CORNELIUS – After raising children at their home and running a successful business, a Cornelius couple is risking it all to stand up to a bank they believe is committing fraud.
Chris and Maria Friscia claim that after calling Bank of America out for alleged forgery and stopping their mortgage payments, more “illegal” actions were made to documents to start the foreclosure process. They are at risk of losing their home and have spent thousands of dollars fighting back. To warn others of the alleged foreclosure fraud by falsifying documents, the couple has created a Facebook page and hung signs on their lawn proclaiming, “We exposed Bank of America fraud & forgery on our note. Now they are illegally foreclosing on our home. Stand with us!!”
“It’s disgusting,” Chris said, citing other cases this has happened. “This isn’t just us. If it was just me, I understand it would be a selfish motive. This isn’t about me.”
Multiple phone calls were made to representatives of Bank of America, who said they wanted to look into the case before making comment.
Chris and Maria moved into their home in 2003 with their two kids, now aged 21 and 14. Three years later, they refinanced with the mortgage company Countrywide. Bank of America bought the company in 2008.
Starting in 2010, companies, including Bank of America, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citigroup, were called into question regarding foreclosure fraud. Federal investigations found the banks signed foreclosure-related documents without a notary and without knowing if the facts were correct. In 2012, the National Mortgage Settlement required banks to pay a total of $25 billion in relief to distressed homeowners and to the government.
Concerned about their own mortgage, the Friscias requested their original bank note in 2011. They received a photocopied version that contained Chris’ initials in a spot that had originally, erroneously been left blank. But Chris said, he was never contacted and deemed the new initials a forgery.
“If they had just called and said ‘hey, can you sign this,’ there wouldn’t have been a problem at all,” Maria said. “But anything forged is a breach of contract making it null and void.”
Maria said they stopped making payments on the house, but keep the funds in a separate bank account.
They were told by others that if they kept paying the bank could use it against them saying there must not be anything wrong. But by going through foreclosure proceedings, they believe they could prove the forgery in court.
Foreclosure proceedings began July, 2012 with a letter stating the case had “no fraud, no forgery,” but it came with a third copy of their note.
This time, Chris said, in addition to the alleged forged signature, the document contained a stamp saying it was “An Endorsement in Blank” from Countrywide with a handwritten signature. The Friscias couldn’t understand how the stamp that wasn’t there before appeared after the company had gone out of business.
Going through the foreclosure process, the couple alleges other documents were filed without proper protocol. Their investigation has led them to a paper trail involving several states.
Their lawyers have been to court several times, though the Friscias have only been once for an April hearing where the court dismissed the forgery claim and ruled in favor of Bank of America. They are in the process of trying to appeal.
The couple said they have devoted a lot of time and money to the case, losing a company van and reducing business contractors.
“We are probably going to lose our house,” Maria said. “But I want to expose them, I want this out there and I don’t want this to happen to someone else.”