Well, what a surprise! JPMorgan Chase is up to its old, "robo-signing" tricks. You'd think that after having to fork up a record $13 billion settlement over its sale of bad mortgage securities in addition to facing increasing scrutiny about its dealings with Bernard Madoff, Chase would clean up its act. But, apparently it hasn't learned its lesson.
Back in 2010 relatively, new employee in good standing, Linda Almonte, discovered major discrepancies in 23,000 credit card accounts. Ms. Almonte had been charged with the task of trying to help sell these supposedly uncollectible, Chase accounts to "junk" debt buyers, who would purchase the accounts for pennies on the dollars, After Ms. Almonte alerted her supervisors that the majority of these accounts were rife with misinformation including but not limited to discrepancies in the account balances. Ms. Almonte was the fired for, simply, doing her job. She fought back, though, and filed a Complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Her allegations were more than disturbing. Among her complaints were that:
- Chase Bank sold hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of credit card accounts to debt buyers with the knowledge that the account balances were wrongly stated.
- Chase Bank routinely destroyed information and communications from consumers including bankruptcy notices, powers of attorney, notice of cancellation of auto-pay, proof of payments and letters from debt settlement companies.
- Chase Bank mass-executed "robo-signed" thousands of affidavits in support of Chase Banks collection efforts without having personal knowledge of the facts set forth in the affidavits.
Despite Almonte's efforts in 2010, Chase does not seem to have learned its lesson. Just this past Spring, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, filed a lawsuit against JPMorganChase alleging that it "flooded California's courts with collection lawsuits against defaulted credit card borrowers based on patently insufficient evidence,". The lawsuit further alleges that JPMorganChase "bet that borrowers would lack the resources or legal sophistication to call bluff,"
And just this past December, Mississippi Attorney General, Jim Hood filed similar allegations of Robo-signing against JPMorganChase in Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. JPMorgan Chase & Co et al, in the Hinds County, Mississippi, Chancery Court of the First Judicial District.
Unfortunately, some of our courts have not yet gotten the message. I have had to defend several debt buyer lawsuits in which my clients either do not either recognize the account or can identify the account and some of the purchases they made but found items that they never purchased at stores in areas that they never visited. I have seen these Chase Affidavits, which all contain the same "boilerplate" information, which is dubious, in and of itself. In fact, Chase is the only credit card company that provides these Affidavits in the multitude of debt-buyer cases my office has defended.
In most cases, the expense of conducting a thorough investigation into the veracity of the Chase Affidavits is beyond the means of my clients. However, under the important Pennsylvania Superior case of Atlantic Financial Systems, Inc. v. Giuliana, the debt buyer has to supply a sufficient number of account statements to allow the Defendant (and the Court) to be able to determine the accuracy of the claim. Because these accounts are being purchased for pennies on the dollars and because Chase doesn't keep the entire account records, the law mandates that the debt buyers should lose every one of these Chase cases.
Despite all of the above, there is a certain predisposition existing that if you are accused of owing the debt and your name is on an account statement, then you must owe the debt. Although, most of our Judges don't think this way, there are still some who do.
That's why it's important to raise public awareness about what Chase is doing. Since credit has become an integral part of our modern lifestyles, the last thing that people need is for their credit to be tampered with by the unscrupulous practices alleged against Chase.