The Psychopaths killed another American this month. Dave Johnson over at AlterNet is telling the story of Norman Rousseau and his wife – two people who did everything they were supposed to do. They were responsible homeowners who did business with Wells Fargo and put a 30% down payment on this home in California back in 2000, and they made every payment from then on – never missing even one single-month. At that same time, the housing bubble frenzy took off. Banks discovered they could make enormous profits dragging homeowners away from safe fixed-rate mortgages and into exploding adjustable rate mortgages. For the bank, it didn’t matter if the interest rate on the new loan would skyrocket and eventually lead to a foreclosure. The bank got their money no matter what, either through missed payment fees, late-payment fees, refinancing fees, and then after foreclosure through government support, tax write-offs, and the underlying value of the property.
As a corporation, a bank Wells Fargo only has one obligation: increase profits for its shareholders – that’s it. To hell with their customers, their community, their nation. Just as long as they’re hitting that bottom-line goal, then Wells Fargo is doing exactly what it’s legally obligated to do. If Wells Fargo was a person, and didn’t give a damn about their fellow man and was willing to do whatever it takes – lie, cheat, steal, kill – for profit, then we’d call that person a psychopath. If a psychopath had defrauded a person, and then harassed her to the point of committing suicide to get it to stop, we’d lock that psychopath up and keep him away from society. But as a corporation, we give companies like Wells Fargo tax breaks and bailouts, and turn the other way when they drive their customers to suicide. So, in 2007, Wells Fargo’s salesmen decided to prey on one of their customers – Norman Rousseau.
According to court documents, the bank approached the Rousseau’s about changing their mortgage to an adjustable rate mortgage. The Rousseau’s stressed they were only interested in a fixed-rate loan and they wanted to pay the same payments through the life of the loan. But they trusted the bank – which was a big mistake. So when Wells Fargo told them that the “new industry standard” is adjustable rate mortgages, and they could save more than $600 a month in mortgage payments, and that the “worst-case scenario” would be an increase of only a few dollars on their monthly payments, the Rousseau’s gave in to the salesmen and took the new mortgage. But a few years later, in 2009, the Rousseau’s knew they were stuck with a bad dealTheir new interest rate was higher than it was before 2007, and even higher than what they were told it could increase to. But as responsible homeowners who had done everything they were supposed to do, the Rousseau’s still made each and every monthly payment on time.
That’s when Wells Fargo – behaving like a true psychopath – moved in for the kill. In May of that year, the bank claimed the Rousseau’s missed a monthly payment. The Rousseaus said that was impossible, that they had made the payment, and even gave proof that they made the payment at the bank with a cashier’s check and that check had been cashed by the bank. But the bank still claimed it never received the payment, and a few months later said the Rousseau’s again missed another payment in June and another in July, even though Norman Rousseau had, again, hand-delivered a cashier’s check to the bank to pay each of those months. Finally, the bank recognized its error and in August told the Rousseaus that they were indeed current on all their payments. But a few months later, Wells Fargo went back to the same scheme – again claiming a missed payment and then hitting the Rosseau’s with fee after fee, penalty after penalty.
Over the next few years, this sort of back-and-forth, double-talk, Kafkaesque nightmare continued between Wells Fargo and Norman Rousseau. The fees kept piling up, as did the lies from the bank – and then the eviction notices came rolling in. By 2012, the financial burden of the whole ordeal became unbearable, and the Rousseau’s – like so many other Americans in the middle of the housing meltdown – were getting wiped out by the increased mortgage payments. That’s when Wells Fargo finished them off, setting the eviction date of May 15th for when Norman Rousseau and his wife had to be out of their house. The Rousseau’s considered moving into the RV in front of their home. But that plan didn’t work out either. Two days before the scheduled eviction, Norman Rousseau, apparently unable to bear losing his home after the bank had already taken all his money, pulled out a gun and killed himself – leaving behind a devastated wife.