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I Can’t Afford to Pay Brookstone Law for a Mass Joinder Lawsuit

“Dear Steve,

I would be particularly interested if you should come up with any information re Brookstone Law’s mass joinder case they are commencing against Bank of America. Not long ago I noted on your website a similar request from someone who was suspicious about Brookstone Law. Brookstone did not solicit me; I came across them in the course of my own web search, looking for some kind of class action lawsuit I might join. I felt I had strong evidence that Bank of America had scammed me in the course of my 11-month ordeal applying for a mortgage modification under the HAMP plan.

My suspicions regarding Brookstone were initially aroused by the fact that, although the potential “customers” for such a lawsuit are by definition people who do not have enough money to pay their mortgages, to join Brookstone’s lawsuit you have to come up with $900 for a forensic audit, then pay upfront $2000-$4000 to continue, with no guarantee that you will ever win a settlement and get that money back. When I remarked that if I had that kind of money I could pay my mortgage, they replied that once I am accepted onto the lawsuit I am protected because the bank has to promise not to foreclose until the case is settled.

But what if we lose? They replied that I won’t be accepted on to the lawsuit unless they analyze the details of my case and are sure we will win. They cited a previous victorious mass joinder lawsuit. They said that the first thing they would do is complete the forensic audit, and if my case doesn’t look good enough they will refund my $900 and close the case. If my case looks strong and they join me on to the lawsuit, they claimed I might end up owning my home free and clear! They said many people, although already in debt, come up with the up-front retainer fee somehow! They said how much is it worth to you to save your home? (That last gambit really infuriated me!)

My natural skepticism was increased by the fact that neither Carl Saterfield, the “intake” guy, nor Anthony Stout, the follow-up guy who really did sound like a lawyer, ever said anything about up-front fees until they had already had me fax all my relevant mortgage documents and we had already had several conversations. It felt like they had been trying to “hook me in” before lowering the boom! When I expressed dismay that they had waited so long to mention the money, they sounded surprised, as if it must have been an unusual oversight. They said that these lawsuits are very expensive to initiate, and that although they had been very successful and presumably had a lot of money in their coffers from previous lawsuits, they couldn’t be expected to bear all the costs in advance.

I finally told them I just couldn’t see how I could come up with the money. But one evening some days or maybe weeks later I was surprised to get a call from a young man at the Brookstone office asking for details about my case, as if they weren’t finished with me. He interviewed me for awhile, but when I finally mentioned the money problem he put me on hold and consulted with Anthony Stout. He came back and said sorry, I hadn’t realized they had already dealt with this, there’s nothing more we can do. I mentioned then that I had been apprised of a lawsuit that had been initiated against a number of defendents including Vito Torchia, managing attorney of Brookstone. This motivated Anthony to come to the phone himself and assert essentially that the plaintiffs had lost that lawsuit.

That was my last contact with Brookstone Law.

The question that remains for me is, isn’t there a suitable mass lawsuit for me out there somewhere in which the lawyers will get their money on contingency? Given the fact that there must be zillions of people who have been denied a mortgage modification after many months of application and hassle, and who–like me–have good reasons to believe that the bank has scammed them in one way or another, why aren’t there a lot of lawyers out there who see the opportunity?

Thank you so much, Steve, for providing this wonderful service to people at this time of such exceptional need!”

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The Answer

I happen to email back and forth a lot these days with Vito Torchia, Jr., the owner of Brookstone Law and I asked him to directly respond to you question. Here is what he had to say.

Steve:

I appreciate the courtesy in letting me respond to the consumer’s inquiry. As you are aware, on February 9, 2011, Brookstone Law filed Wright, et al v. Bank of America, et al. a mass joinder case in California Superior Court in Orange County on behalf of 128 plaintiffs. Among the causes of action in the Wright case are numerous causes of action for fraud, regarding loan origination, and violations of California Civil Code Section 2923.5, regarding violations in the foreclosure process.

In addition, in the soon to be filed First Amended Complaint, we intend to include a cause of action for breach of contract regarding the lenders’ so called Trial Modification Agreements. This lawsuit and lawsuits we anticipate filing against other lenders, seek to help homeowners protect their rights and hold the banks accountable for misdeeds. We allege that such misdeeds involve unlawful and predatory lending practices, unlawful securitization of the note and unlawful transfer and assignment of Deed of Trust/mortgage.

Brookstone Law has recently joined forces with the attorneys of Apex Law Group, PC, who initiated the Ronald v. Bank of America case in Los Angeles, and Kenin M. Spivak of SML LLP, one of the co-lead attorneys on the Ronald case, and who will associate in as co-lead counsel in the Wright case and in other lawsuits we are considering.

Depending upon the lender and each individual’s circumstance, these lawsuits may be suitable for homeowners who originated or refinanced their loans from as early as 2001 through as late as 2008. These lawsuits may be suitable for homeowners who are current on their mortgage but have lost equity, as well as homeowners who are facing foreclosure or who have already been wrongfully foreclosed upon (though these lawsuits do not, of themselves, prevent foreclosures and such efforts require a separate proceeding that may or may not be successful).

As attorneys, we understand the realities of litigation. We cannot guarantee any particular results – and as the writer correctly points out, we do not.

While all litigation is expensive, mass joinder actions are particularly so because there are large number of individual clients, and very large well-entrenched defendants. The large number of clients creates a need for sophisticated systems and teams of client relationship managers. Discovery can occur at the individual level and require considerable interaction and huge paperwork. This, in turn, increases the need for paralegals and lawyers.

By comparison, class action litigation is much less expensive. Though clients may receive mass emails, few individual clients interact with the legal team, there is seldom discovery at the individual client level and it is almost as if the law firm is its own client.

While it is unfortunate that we cannot afford to undertake the costs of working with our clients, litigating the case and discovery without a source of funds to reimburse our costs, it is nonetheless true. Further, seeking investors to cover these costs creates a range of ethical, legal and financial problems – not the least of which is that it likely would lead to far higher contingency fees.

As you know from reviewing our engagement agreements, both our retainer fees and our contingency fees are well below what others charge. Clearly, our retainer fees do not create the incentive for us to litigate these cases and at best cover our out-of-pocket costs and overhead (if the retainers did not cover our out of pocket costs and overhead, our firm would fail and our clients would be unable to pursue their claims).

Without question, we might lose some or all of these lawsuits. Further, without questions, some of our clients might win and others might lose. It is therefore true that the retainer might do nothing more than increase our client’s loss. That is a necessary evil of most litigation, except perhaps a class action. It is noteworthy that most class members generally receive very small recoveries in a successful class action. Our goal (but not our promise) is that many of our plaintiffs will receive much larger recoveries through joinder actions than would typically occur with a class action.

The fact is that no individual who cannot afford the loss of his or her retainer should retain Brookstone, because that could be the result. We hope not, we will work zealously for that not to occur. But there are no guarantees in litigation except that the outcome is uncertain.

I should also observe that if a homeowner were to, instead, consider an individual action, the odds are very high that the fees and costs would vastly exceed what that client would pay to Brookstone. Again, however, there might be exceptions.

In some of these lawsuits, some plaintiffs might seek to be released entirely from their debt. It is possible we may be able to obtain this relief by proving that through the process of mortgage back securities these banks have already been paid the full amount of consideration of the note many times over. However, as both a matter of fact and law, our effort might not succeed.

As for the writer’s mention of a lawsuit in which I am one of the defendants, I have denied the allegations and have asserted – and by this letter again assert – the complaint is in error both factually and legally. Neither I nor anyone who works for me had anything to do with the allegations in that complaint. At the appropriate time I will make a motion in that court for Rule 11 sanctions against the attorneys who failed to do their due diligence before filing that complaint.

As for the writer’s final questions regarding finding a suitable mass joinder, as I mentioned above, I will be working side by side with Kenin M. Spivak and a team of very talented attorneys and staff to file additional cases. Currently we anticipate filing actions against JP Morgan Chase/Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo/Wachovia, Ally Bank/GMAC, Aurora/Lehman Bros., Citibank, One West/IndyMac, and HSBC. However, that list might change based on the results of our investigations and discussions with prospective co-counsel and prospective plaintiffs.

While we will consider filing class actions, for which there would be no upfront cost to any plaintiff, I can’t be certain that will occur and I cannot give the writer advice on whether he would be a member of any particular class.

One benefit of the mass joinder approach is that if the bank offers a mortgage modification that is acceptable to the client, it is well within the client’s right to choose to take the modification/settlement. Doing so might, or might not, require the client to drop out of the lawsuit. It might, or might not, reduce the client’s damage claims. A joinder case involves individual plaintiffs and the answers are specific to each individual’s circumstance.

Vito Torchia, Jr.

So there you go. Mr. Torchia does say they may be filing class action cases where there will be no upfront cost to the consumer so you may want to consider waiting to see how the initial cases go and staying in touch for the no fee class action efforts of the firm if you want to act later.

If you feel this is something you may want to proceed with an you are unsure, find a local real estate attorney and get a second opinion before you do anything.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

I Cant Afford to Pay Brookstone Law for a Mass Joinder Lawsuit
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Andy Faria

    You’re correct Steve, I did just obtain my MA RE Brokers license on 1/26/2011. The license number is 9518603. Before that I held a MA RE Salesperson’s license for six years. That license was issued 1/6/2005 and the license number is 9072725. Did you miss that, or decide to leave it out?

    I’m short on time and tired of you but I’ll do my best to hit it all as quick as I can …

    Nope not a member of NAR, they’re a great assoc but never have joined, maybe someday .. I’ve never once called myself a guru .. RE-LITTER make’s no sense and is stupid (nobody’s laughing) .. I have never preyed upon anybody from this site (fabrication) .. our brokerage’s commissions are actually higher on average than what you suggested (disclosed and legal) .. the straw buyer thing doesn’t even deserve a response .. I wish I had just graduated high school (1997) .. I did skip college after high school, went to boot camp instead (USCG) .. the answer to my question – there can only be one buyer, if there are multiple offers its up to the Seller which one is highest and best, and only that offer is presented to the lender (I know what you read, it came from an unsourced article, you can’t believe everything you read Steve)

    And to think all this started over one simple question, “hire an attorney for what?” It was such an easy question, instead of just answering it you’ve now hurled childish insults and have made a number of completely fabricated statements about me in an attempt to somehow discredit me. Who knows, had you just answered that one easy question, we may have had a pleasant conversation.

    Well I think that just about covers all of your questions. Tomorrow is Monday and I’ll be back in the real world so I’ll have to leave this bizzarre discussion behind. I’ve had fun and I’m glad you got to learn so much about me. I’m sure you won’t miss your opportunity to get the last word, so while your at it how about letting us all know what law firm do you (Steve Duran) represent? (third time)

  • Sduran165

    TYPO

    “I was took many tests licensed in several states to originate mortgages.”

    I meant to say I took and passed many tests in several states to get my license to originate.

  • Sduran165

    Andrew J. Faria, you are NOT even a member of the THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®…You are a RE-LITTER who barely passed the real estate exam less then 3 months ago, and now you are pretending to be a Short-Sale GURU on the internet…REALLY?? LMAO!! You are wet behind the ears as a newbie RE-LITTER, and you come onto this forum to prey on desperate homeowners. You try to convince them to hand their keys over to the bank so you can make FAT COMMI$$IONS!! What do you make on a $300,000 sale, $9,000 if you don’t know the other agent, and $18,000 if you get a “straw buyer?” That is WAY to much money for a shark like you to make. Most of the struggling homeowners still have hope, but you try to convince them they can’t win against the Big Banks, because it makes you more money. You talk about my lack of credentials…lol You have only been a licensed real estate broker for less then 3 months…LMAO!! I bet you just graduated from high school, skipped college, got your real estate license, and now pretending to be a Short-Sale GURU on the internet. You talk about me not being licensed…I was took many tests licensed in several states to originate mortgages. I don’t know if you got the memo, but I don’t have to have a real estate license in order to help people save their homes.

    You said, “Think about it, how can their be several ratified contracts in place to buy a single property?”—by Andy Faria

    Andy, you are very naive to say the least. I know you just got your license, but go talk to somebody who has 20 years plus in mortgage/real estate business and then ask that question again…

  • Andy Faria

    Wow that was a lot of words to simply say … you were never licensed. Who is the law firm you work for? I bet you won’t tell us.

    You’re right Steve, I’m not a Realtor, never was. Never joined the organization.

    You say that I’m a “piece of scum who preys on desperate homeowners to give up their homes in a short-sale transaction so you can make your FAT COMMI$$IONS”. You have absolutely no basis or proof whatsoever to say that. You’re only saying that because you’re mad at me. It’s ok though, I’m sure everybody will see it as exactly what it is … a poor attempt to change the subject from your clear lack of any credentials or transparency.

    And as for submitting all offers to the bank on short sale transactions. You need to do some more research on that one Steve. Think about it, how can their be several ratified contracts in place to buy a single property?

    What law firm do you work for again Steve?

  • Steve Rhode

    I did not. It was caught in the spam filter.

  • Sduran165

    Andy, I replied and gave you a nice long response, but it appears your buddy Steve Rhode deleted it.

    Steve Rhode, why did you delete my response? Please repost it. There was not vulgar language in it, and I answered all his “concerns”….

  • Sduran165

    Andy…the rebuttal from TWO YEARS ago explained this was a false allegation posted from an “anonymous” blogger who was later unmasked, so that should be good enough. However, since you don’t seem to know much about mortgage financing and loan restructuring, let me see if I can answer your concerns.

    “Steve Duran Not even legal! Laguna Nigel Internet”—I think Steve Duran has a Birth Certificate and a Social Security Card he can show you that will prove he is legal.

    “California law requires companies acting as loan modification processing companies be affiliated with a Licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of California.”—Steve was working with a licensed Real Estate Broker AND a licensed Attorney who the DRE does NOT have jurisdiction over.

    “He is not licensed by the State of California.”—In 2009, you did NOT need a real estate license to originate mortgages or help people obtain loan modifications.

    “California law requires that the individuals acting in the capacity of “negotiator” have a valid California Real Estate Salespersons License. This person has conversation with the homeowner and the bank, relaying terms, paperwork requirements, proposed mortgage payments, etc.”—Steve never acted in the capacity as a”negotiator.”

    “and then operates outside of the regulations and laws of the State?”—Steve will tell you this isn’t true.

    Mr. Andy Faria, you are not a Realtor. You are a RE-LITTER piece of scum who preys on desperate homeowners to give up their homes in a short-sale transaction so you can make your FAT COMMI$$IONS. I heard the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is looking closely at your short sale transactions to determine whether or not a fraud was committed against the lenders.

    The FBI is investigating to see whether or not the you submitted all offers to the lenders in your short sale transactions. A real estate broker who does not submit ALL offers to the lender could be charged with being involved in a conspiracy to commit fraud against the lender. Even when contracts are submitted to the lender, but not yet approved by the lender, the real estate broker must continue to submit all offers to the bank. You should worry about yourself. It seems you have your own problems brewing ahead…just sayin’

  • Andy Faria

    Steve, I did read the rebuttal, and it didn’t actually answer any of the questions raised. Here is what the complaint alleges…

    Steve Duran Not even legal! Laguna Nigel Internet

    California law requires companies acting as loan modification processing companies be affiliated with a Licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of California.

    California law requires that the individuals acting in the capacity of “negotiator” have a valid California Real Estate Salespersons License. This person has conversation with the homeowner and the bank, relaying terms, paperwork requirements, proposed mortgage payments, etc.

    He is not licensed by the State of California.

    The above information can be verified at the California DRE website.

    So he meets clients in public places and then operates outside of the regulations and laws of the State?

    So, I can understand that you would be unhappy that someone would post this to ripoff report and I don’t blame you one bit for fighting back. The problem is that you didn’t actually have an answer to the allegations made, instead you accused every other person you have ever pissed off on Brokers Outpost (or wherever else you lurk) of being the “anonymous poster”.

    Come on Steve, this question was a softball. All you had to do was respond with, “this allegation is false, I am in fact licensed in CA, and my license number is XXXXXXX”, and then maybe a link to prove it. Otherwise, it leads the reader to believe that you are in fact unlicensed and operating illegally in the state of CA.

    So which one is it Steve, were you were operating illegally? Or were you in fact legit? There isn’t any gray area.

  • Sduran165

    Great Job Inspector Gadget! If you are going to post links from anonymous bloggers, at least read the entire thread to see if it has any credence, BEFORE you attempt to harm someone’s reputation…Otherwise, it makes you look like an ass-hat.

    You say that you think Richard has done a great job escalating the file to the advocacy group, but that doesn’t mean he will qualify for a loan mod. He’s already been trying for 11 months with no success, and apparently he’s too cheap to hire someone to to help him out, so I don’t feel sorry for him. I’ve talked to many people in the past who listened to the Bank when they instructed homeowners that there is “free” help out there with NACA or they tried to get a loan modification done themselves, only to be rejected, because they didn’t calculate their income correctly, they didn’t know they could only use 75% of boarding income, they didn’t know that Social Security income is grossed up by 125%, they didn’t know they could use another person in the household’s income, ect.

    I’m not saying he should stop making payments and pay Brookstone instead. As far as Brookstone, I did shop them and didn’t feel comfortable with them. They said they were going to work towards getting me a “free and clear” property and not a principle reduction, and that they were 6 for 6 in getting free and clear properties. If they would have told me they were going to ask for a principle reduction down to 80% of the value of the property and a 2% fixed for the life of the loan, that sounds more realistic then only going for a “free and clear” property. He told me Mitchell J. Stein was the attorney from the movie Erin Brockovich, so I rented that movie, but I didn’t see him in that movie. When I talked to the Brookstone Law intake guy and confronted him, he said he was not the lead attorney, but was one of the attorneys on the case. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Of course, this was before they had a falling out with Mr. Stein. They said the legal department took a look at my file, but then wanted me to drive to the office so they can take a more “thorough” look at my loan documents. I told him I didn’t feel comfortable to come into the office yet until I knew which attorney I was going to be meeting with. It seemed like the main goal was to give me the least amount of information possible and get me to come into the office to meet with an attorney.

    The guy finally got frustrated when I started drilling him with the tough questions that he had to cut the conversation…lol

  • Andy Faria

    Oh you’ve been to my site. I noticed your from Laguna Niguel CA. Funny when I run your screen name here and “Laguna Niguel”, I came up with this site…

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/bb

    thats not you sduran165, is it?

    then I found this….

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/lo

    how about that?

    And by the way, I think Richard is doing the right thing by escalating his file to the advocacy group within the office of the president at BOA. If there’s any chance of getting his loan modified he’s in the right department.

    Sure, seeking the advice of council is alway’s a good idea, but are you saying that he should stop making mortgage payments in order to pay Brookstone?

  • Sduran165

    Good Point Andy! Why pay an attorney to protect his home against Bank? You can help him do a short-sale and make FAT commissions on it. If you get the short-sale listing though, just make sure you use some of your commissions to help pay for the U-Haul trucks…

  • Andy Faria

    pay an attorney for what?

  • Sduran165

    What is your mortgage balance, interest rate, loan type, payment? I’ve talked to people like you who did everything they could including dipping into their retirement savings to not fall another month behind. Then once their life savings are gone, they have no money to pay for an attorney…

  • Richard Hoff

    We started our process of applying for a loan modification with NACA in early Nov. 2009. In April 2010 B of A solicited our direct application, even though I pointed out that we were already with NACA. The NACA process went nowhere, but at the end of Sept. 2010 our direct B of A application was rejected because our lender was claimed to not be a party to HAMP. We found out independently that our lender was (allegedly) Deutsche Bank. The obvious question then arose: if Deutsche Bank has been our lender all through this agonizing 11-month period of our application process, why did it take B of A 11 months to notice this?? Or did they “switch horses in midstream” in order to screw us?

    Since then I have been in a long, tortuous struggle involving my Nov. 2010 complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, B of A stonewalling, and a now third round of dealing with B of A’s Office of the President–personnel of which cringe and change the subject when I point out that another department of B of A illegally violated B of A’s contract with NACA. Things appear to be heading toward some kind of climax now in this third round, but who knows?

    As for what we’re doing with our “extra money,” you gotta be kidding! Almost all our money goes for mortgage, in a desperate attempt to stave off foreclosure each month! Various friends have given us help, but this cannot go on. We struggle to find some part-time work, but with little success. B of A appears to be trying to stonewall us to death. But after six months of waiting for the OCC process to go somewhere, I have managed to press the OCC at a higher level for action, and something does SEEM to be happening.

    Thanks for your interest and attempted help!

  • Sduran165

    Richard, you can go to NACA and get FREE help…lol If you are not paying your mortgage right now, what are you doing with all the extra money?

  • Steve Rhode

    Apparently nothing. No response is a response in itself.

  • Richard Hoff

    It’s been over a week now since you said you’d point out my comment to Vito, and apparently no response. What seems to be happening?

  • Steve Rhode

    I think you commented yesterday and I didn’t respond. Missed it.

    I’ll point out your comment to Vito.

    Steve

  • Richard Hoff

    I take it there has been no response from Vito to my very basic questions regarding the apparent impracticality of paying Brookstone thousands of dollars for a lawsuit instead of paying my mortgage, then waiting for years for a settlement while B of A forecloses on me. There’s also the issue of Anthony Stout falsely telling me that I couldn’t be foreclosed on while my case is pending. I really think Vito needs to respond! These are questions that would concern all their potential clients, not just me.

    –Richard

  • Richard Hoff

    Actually, this is for Steve; I am Richard Hoff–I don’t know if I’m using your web set-up correctly. Apparently we have received no response from Vito. Don’t you agree we deserve one? Have you contacted him?

  • Richard Hoff

    Thank you so much for this vital piece of information! This would seem to more than imply that Anthony Stout did not tell me the truth. He actually made a big selling point out of the claim that a major advantage to me from joining this mass joinder case is that the bank would be enjoined from foreclosing for the duration of the case. Vito Torchia needs to be aware of what’s going on in these solicitations. It will do them no good in the long run to mess with people’s trust and make false promises.

    I also very much appreciate your informing me that the case could take years. This, combined with the fact that being a member of the lawsuit will not prevent the bank from foreclosing, is a really important factor! How do the Brookstone lawyers expect people who are already on the verge of foreclosure to survive for years while their case is being litigated? And wouldn’t a vengeful bank have extra incentive to foreclose? Why wouldn’t it be in the bank’s interest to just foreclose on everybody in the case, so that years later, even if the plaintiffs get cash settlements, they will already have lost their homes? This might be okay for those who like the money more than their homes, but for people like me who love their home dearly it would be a catastrophe!

    I think Vito Torchia really needs to respond to these points!

  • Steve Rhode

    It is true, membership in the lawsuit will not prevent foreclosure. That came straight from the mouthes of the attorneys involved in this case, to me.

    And you need to understand a case like this may take years.

    Keep me posted on what happens.

  • Richard Hoff

    A big hug to YOU, Steve! When I submitted my account of my experience with Brookstone Law, I never dreamed I would get such an immediate and pertinent response, and from Vito Torchia himself! I also thank you, Mr. Torchia.

    By an odd coincidence, I received a call this morning from yet another customer advocate from the office of the president at Bank of America. This is the third “round” of office of the president level customer advocacy for me. The first two petered out over B of A’s staunch refusal to provide proof that Deutsche Bank–which they say refuses to grant mortgage modifications (even though they got a $290 B bailout from the Fed)–really was my lender throughout the 11-month period B of A kept me on the hook, falling farther and farther behind on my mortgage, waiting for a decision on my application. B of A keeps throwing the word “proprietary” at me like a magic amulet to ward off the Evil Eye. They cited “12 U.S.C. sec. 2605 (B)” as their legal cover for refusing to give me clear documentary proof of who was my lender when, but upon examination this citation appears to be irrelevant.

    These sessions with the office of the president occured as a result of my initial complaint to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency almost 6 months ago. Since then B of A has stalled and stalled, but now they have apparently reached the end of the OCC’s acceptable stalling period and are giving me yet another customer advocate so they can begin a new round of stalling and pseudo-legalistic obfuscation. I can hardly wait for my new customer advocate to call me back and tell me, in a puzzled and apologetic voice, that my lender does not give mortgage modifications, and that his higher-ups maintain that the information we seek is–well, “proprietary!”

    Perhaps the explanation for this recalcitrance will really turn out to be, as some say, that in fact there are no documents with dates and signatures proving ownership of my mortgage Note. Maybe the ferocious financial Godzilla will turn out to be just a big, hollow balloon. Certainly my MERS record turned out to be a pitiful joke, showing Deutsche Bank coming on the scene just a couple of months ago, with NATIXIS–a company I have never heard of–filling in the void over most of the years of my mortgage. B of A says it was just a mistake, and that’s probably true, but it goes to show the irrelevance of MERS as an official authority of record.

    What I basically need at this point is to come up with $900 for a good forensic audit. But even if I do that and the audit looks bad for the bank, what good would that do if I can’t come up with several thousand more dollars to pursue a case in court? And what good will pursuing a case in court do if I’m drifting into foreclosure because I’m spending my money on legal expenses instead of paying my mortgage? Anthony Stout at Brookstone told me they will make the bank agree to hold off on foreclosures until the case is settled–but what if we lose and the bank slaps me with a huge bill for delinquent mortgage payments? Also, Vito Torchia’s statement above seems to contradict what Anthony said; he seems to be saying that membership in the lawsuit will not prevent foreclosures! No doubt the bank would just love to foreclose the bejeezus out of anyone who’s giving them a hard time in court!

    How do Brookstone’s other plaintiffs come up with thousands of dollars to pursue a lawsuit if the reason they are in this mess in the first place is they can’t afford to keep up with their mortgage payments? And I don’t have the luxury of waiting around for a class action case to come up–I’ll already be foreclosed by then!

    After all the torture I’ve been through at the hands of B of A, a big damages settlement would indeed be sweet vengeance! But all I really need is a modest mortgage modification that would enable me to pay my mortgage and still have a little left over for basic expenses. That would be vengeance enough for me.

    Thank you again, Steve, for all your good work and help!

    Another big hug!

    –Richard

  • Richard Hoff

    A big hug to YOU, Steve! When I submitted my account of my experience with Brookstone Law, I never dreamed I would get such an immediate and pertinent response, and from Vito Torchia himself! I also thank you, Mr. Torchia.

    By an odd coincidence, I received a call this morning from yet another customer advocate from the office of the president at Bank of America. This is the third “round” of office of the president level customer advocacy for me. The first two petered out over B of A’s staunch refusal to provide proof that Deutsche Bank–which they say refuses to grant mortgage modifications (even though they got a $290 B bailout from the Fed)–really was my lender throughout the 11-month period B of A kept me on the hook, falling farther and farther behind on my mortgage, waiting for a decision on my application. B of A keeps throwing the word “proprietary” at me like a magic amulet to ward off the Evil Eye. They cited “12 U.S.C. sec. 2605 (B)” as their legal cover for refusing to give me clear documentary proof of who was my lender when, but upon examination this citation appears to be irrelevant.

    These sessions with the office of the president occured as a result of my initial complaint to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency almost 6 months ago. Since then B of A has stalled and stalled, but now they have apparently reached the end of the OCC’s acceptable stalling period and are giving me yet another customer advocate so they can begin a new round of stalling and pseudo-legalistic obfuscation. I can hardly wait for my new customer advocate to call me back and tell me, in a puzzled and apologetic voice, that my lender does not give mortgage modifications, and that his higher-ups maintain that the information we seek is–well, “proprietary!”

    Perhaps the explanation for this recalcitrance will really turn out to be, as some say, that in fact there are no documents with dates and signatures proving ownership of my mortgage Note. Maybe the ferocious financial Godzilla will turn out to be just a big, hollow balloon. Certainly my MERS record turned out to be a pitiful joke, showing Deutsche Bank coming on the scene just a couple of months ago, with NATIXIS–a company I have never heard of–filling in the void over most of the years of my mortgage. B of A says it was just a mistake, and that’s probably true, but it goes to show the irrelevance of MERS as an official authority of record.

    What I basically need at this point is to come up with $900 for a good forensic audit. But even if I do that and the audit looks bad for the bank, what good would that do if I can’t come up with several thousand more dollars to pursue a case in court? And what good will pursuing a case in court do if I’m drifting into foreclosure because I’m spending my money on legal expenses instead of paying my mortgage? Anthony Stout at Brookstone told me they will make the bank agree to hold off on foreclosures until the case is settled–but what if we lose and the bank slaps me with a huge bill for delinquent mortgage payments? Also, Vito Torchia’s statement above seems to contradict what Anthony said; he seems to be saying that membership in the lawsuit will not prevent foreclosures! No doubt the bank would just love to foreclose the bejeezus out of anyone who’s giving them a hard time in court!

    How do Brookstone’s other plaintiffs come up with thousands of dollars to pursue a lawsuit if the reason they are in this mess in the first place is they can’t afford to keep up with their mortgage payments? And I don’t have the luxury of waiting around for a class action case to come up–I’ll already be foreclosed by then!

    After all the torture I’ve been through at the hands of B of A, a big damages settlement would indeed be sweet vengeance! But all I really need is a modest mortgage modification that would enable me to pay my mortgage and still have a little left over for basic expenses. That would be vengeance enough for me.

    Thank you again, Steve, for all your good work and help!

    Another big hug!

    –Richard

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      It is true, membership in the lawsuit will not prevent foreclosure. That came straight from the mouthes of the attorneys involved in this case, to me.And you need to understand a case like this may take years.Keep me posted on what happens.

      • Richard Hoff

        Thank you so much for this vital piece of information! This would seem to more than imply that Anthony Stout did not tell me the truth. He actually made a big selling point out of the claim that a major advantage to me from joining this mass joinder case is that the bank would be enjoined from foreclosing for the duration of the case. Vito Torchia needs to be aware of what’s going on in these solicitations. It will do them no good in the long run to mess with people’s trust and make false promises.

        I also very much appreciate your informing me that the case could take years. This, combined with the fact that being a member of the lawsuit will not prevent the bank from foreclosing, is a really important factor! How do the Brookstone lawyers expect people who are already on the verge of foreclosure to survive for years while their case is being litigated? And wouldn’t a vengeful bank have extra incentive to foreclose? Why wouldn’t it be in the bank’s interest to just foreclose on everybody in the case, so that years later, even if the plaintiffs get cash settlements, they will already have lost their homes? This might be okay for those who like the money more than their homes, but for people like me who love their home dearly it would be a catastrophe!

        I think Vito Torchia really needs to respond to these points!

      • Richard Hoff

        Actually, this is for Steve; I am Richard Hoff–I don’t know if I’m using your web set-up correctly. Apparently we have received no response from Vito. Don’t you agree we deserve one? Have you contacted him?

      • Richard Hoff

        I take it there has been no response from Vito to my very basic questions regarding the apparent impracticality of paying Brookstone thousands of dollars for a lawsuit instead of paying my mortgage, then waiting for years for a settlement while B of A forecloses on me. There’s also the issue of Anthony Stout falsely telling me that I couldn’t be foreclosed on while my case is pending. I really think Vito needs to respond! These are questions that would concern all their potential clients, not just me.

        –Richard

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        I think you commented yesterday and I didn’t respond. Missed it.

        I’ll point out your comment to Vito.

        Steve

      • Richard Hoff

        It’s been over a week now since you said you’d point out my comment to Vito, and apparently no response. What seems to be happening?

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Apparently nothing. No response is a response in itself.

      • Sduran165

        Richard, you can go to NACA and get FREE help…lol If you are not paying your mortgage right now, what are you doing with all the extra money?

      • Richard Hoff

        We started our process of applying for a loan modification with NACA in early Nov. 2009. In April 2010 B of A solicited our direct application, even though I pointed out that we were already with NACA. The NACA process went nowhere, but at the end of Sept. 2010 our direct B of A application was rejected because our lender was claimed to not be a party to HAMP. We found out independently that our lender was (allegedly) Deutsche Bank. The obvious question then arose: if Deutsche Bank has been our lender all through this agonizing 11-month period of our application process, why did it take B of A 11 months to notice this?? Or did they “switch horses in midstream” in order to screw us?

        Since then I have been in a long, tortuous struggle involving my Nov. 2010 complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, B of A stonewalling, and a now third round of dealing with B of A’s Office of the President–personnel of which cringe and change the subject when I point out that another department of B of A illegally violated B of A’s contract with NACA. Things appear to be heading toward some kind of climax now in this third round, but who knows?

        As for what we’re doing with our “extra money,” you gotta be kidding! Almost all our money goes for mortgage, in a desperate attempt to stave off foreclosure each month! Various friends have given us help, but this cannot go on. We struggle to find some part-time work, but with little success. B of A appears to be trying to stonewall us to death. But after six months of waiting for the OCC process to go somewhere, I have managed to press the OCC at a higher level for action, and something does SEEM to be happening.

        Thanks for your interest and attempted help!

      • Sduran165

        What is your mortgage balance, interest rate, loan type, payment? I’ve talked to people like you who did everything they could including dipping into their retirement savings to not fall another month behind. Then once their life savings are gone, they have no money to pay for an attorney…

      • http://northeast-properties.com Andy Faria

        pay an attorney for what?

      • Sduran165

        Good Point Andy! Why pay an attorney to protect his home against Bank? You can help him do a short-sale and make FAT commissions on it. If you get the short-sale listing though, just make sure you use some of your commissions to help pay for the U-Haul trucks…

      • http://northeast-properties.com Andy Faria

        Oh you’ve been to my site. I noticed your from Laguna Niguel CA. Funny when I run your screen name here and “Laguna Niguel”, I came up with this site…

        http://www.ripoffreport.com/bbb-better-business-bureau/steve-duran-sduran16/steve-duran-sduran165-aol-com-7f4x3.htm

        thats not you sduran165, is it?

        then I found this….

        http://www.ripoffreport.com/loan-modification/steve-duran/steve-duran-not-even-legal-la-m43e2.htm

        how about that?

        And by the way, I think Richard is doing the right thing by escalating his file to the advocacy group within the office of the president at BOA. If there’s any chance of getting his loan modified he’s in the right department.

        Sure, seeking the advice of council is alway’s a good idea, but are you saying that he should stop making mortgage payments in order to pay Brookstone?

      • Sduran165

        Great Job Inspector Gadget! If you are going to post links from anonymous bloggers, at least read the entire thread to see if it has any credence, BEFORE you attempt to harm someone’s reputation…Otherwise, it makes you look like an ass-hat.

        You say that you think Richard has done a great job escalating the file to the advocacy group, but that doesn’t mean he will qualify for a loan mod. He’s already been trying for 11 months with no success, and apparently he’s too cheap to hire someone to to help him out, so I don’t feel sorry for him. I’ve talked to many people in the past who listened to the Bank when they instructed homeowners that there is “free” help out there with NACA or they tried to get a loan modification done themselves, only to be rejected, because they didn’t calculate their income correctly, they didn’t know they could only use 75% of boarding income, they didn’t know that Social Security income is grossed up by 125%, they didn’t know they could use another person in the household’s income, ect.

        I’m not saying he should stop making payments and pay Brookstone instead. As far as Brookstone, I did shop them and didn’t feel comfortable with them. They said they were going to work towards getting me a “free and clear” property and not a principle reduction, and that they were 6 for 6 in getting free and clear properties. If they would have told me they were going to ask for a principle reduction down to 80% of the value of the property and a 2% fixed for the life of the loan, that sounds more realistic then only going for a “free and clear” property. He told me Mitchell J. Stein was the attorney from the movie Erin Brockovich, so I rented that movie, but I didn’t see him in that movie. When I talked to the Brookstone Law intake guy and confronted him, he said he was not the lead attorney, but was one of the attorneys on the case. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Of course, this was before they had a falling out with Mr. Stein. They said the legal department took a look at my file, but then wanted me to drive to the office so they can take a more “thorough” look at my loan documents. I told him I didn’t feel comfortable to come into the office yet until I knew which attorney I was going to be meeting with. It seemed like the main goal was to give me the least amount of information possible and get me to come into the office to meet with an attorney.

        The guy finally got frustrated when I started drilling him with the tough questions that he had to cut the conversation…lol

      • http://northeast-properties.com Andy Faria

        Steve, I did read the rebuttal, and it didn’t actually answer any of the questions raised. Here is what the complaint alleges…

        Steve Duran Not even legal! Laguna Nigel Internet

        California law requires companies acting as loan modification processing companies be affiliated with a Licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of California.

        California law requires that the individuals acting in the capacity of “negotiator” have a valid California Real Estate Salespersons License. This person has conversation with the homeowner and the bank, relaying terms, paperwork requirements, proposed mortgage payments, etc.

        He is not licensed by the State of California.

        The above information can be verified at the California DRE website.

        So he meets clients in public places and then operates outside of the regulations and laws of the State?

        So, I can understand that you would be unhappy that someone would post this to ripoff report and I don’t blame you one bit for fighting back. The problem is that you didn’t actually have an answer to the allegations made, instead you accused every other person you have ever pissed off on Brokers Outpost (or wherever else you lurk) of being the “anonymous poster”.

        Come on Steve, this question was a softball. All you had to do was respond with, “this allegation is false, I am in fact licensed in CA, and my license number is XXXXXXX”, and then maybe a link to prove it. Otherwise, it leads the reader to believe that you are in fact unlicensed and operating illegally in the state of CA.

        So which one is it Steve, were you were operating illegally? Or were you in fact legit? There isn’t any gray area.

      • Sduran165

        Andy…the rebuttal from TWO YEARS ago explained this was a false allegation posted from an “anonymous” blogger who was later unmasked, so that should be good enough. However, since you don’t seem to know much about mortgage financing and loan restructuring, let me see if I can answer your concerns.

        “Steve Duran Not even legal! Laguna Nigel Internet”—I think Steve Duran has a Birth Certificate and a Social Security Card he can show you that will prove he is legal.

        “California law requires companies acting as loan modification processing companies be affiliated with a Licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of California.”—Steve was working with a licensed Real Estate Broker AND a licensed Attorney who the DRE does NOT have jurisdiction over.

        “He is not licensed by the State of California.”—In 2009, you did NOT need a real estate license to originate mortgages or help people obtain loan modifications.

        “California law requires that the individuals acting in the capacity of “negotiator” have a valid California Real Estate Salespersons License. This person has conversation with the homeowner and the bank, relaying terms, paperwork requirements, proposed mortgage payments, etc.”—Steve never acted in the capacity as a”negotiator.”

        “and then operates outside of the regulations and laws of the State?”—Steve will tell you this isn’t true.

        Mr. Andy Faria, you are not a Realtor. You are a RE-LITTER piece of scum who preys on desperate homeowners to give up their homes in a short-sale transaction so you can make your FAT COMMI$$IONS. I heard the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is looking closely at your short sale transactions to determine whether or not a fraud was committed against the lenders.

        The FBI is investigating to see whether or not the you submitted all offers to the lenders in your short sale transactions. A real estate broker who does not submit ALL offers to the lender could be charged with being involved in a conspiracy to commit fraud against the lender. Even when contracts are submitted to the lender, but not yet approved by the lender, the real estate broker must continue to submit all offers to the bank. You should worry about yourself. It seems you have your own problems brewing ahead…just sayin’

      • http://northeast-properties.com Andy Faria

        Wow that was a lot of words to simply say … you were never licensed. Who is the law firm you work for? I bet you won’t tell us.

        You’re right Steve, I’m not a Realtor, never was. Never joined the organization.

        You say that I’m a “piece of scum who preys on desperate homeowners to give up their homes in a short-sale transaction so you can make your FAT COMMI$$IONS”. You have absolutely no basis or proof whatsoever to say that. You’re only saying that because you’re mad at me. It’s ok though, I’m sure everybody will see it as exactly what it is … a poor attempt to change the subject from your clear lack of any credentials or transparency.

        And as for submitting all offers to the bank on short sale transactions. You need to do some more research on that one Steve. Think about it, how can their be several ratified contracts in place to buy a single property?

        What law firm do you work for again Steve?

      • Sduran165

        Andy, I replied and gave you a nice long response, but it appears your buddy Steve Rhode deleted it.

        Steve Rhode, why did you delete my response? Please repost it. There was not vulgar language in it, and I answered all his “concerns”….

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        I did not. It was caught in the spam filter.

      • Sduran165

        Andrew J. Faria, you are NOT even a member of the THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®…You are a RE-LITTER who barely passed the real estate exam less then 3 months ago, and now you are pretending to be a Short-Sale GURU on the internet…REALLY?? LMAO!! You are wet behind the ears as a newbie RE-LITTER, and you come onto this forum to prey on desperate homeowners. You try to convince them to hand their keys over to the bank so you can make FAT COMMI$$IONS!! What do you make on a $300,000 sale, $9,000 if you don’t know the other agent, and $18,000 if you get a “straw buyer?” That is WAY to much money for a shark like you to make. Most of the struggling homeowners still have hope, but you try to convince them they can’t win against the Big Banks, because it makes you more money. You talk about my lack of credentials…lol You have only been a licensed real estate broker for less then 3 months…LMAO!! I bet you just graduated from high school, skipped college, got your real estate license, and now pretending to be a Short-Sale GURU on the internet. You talk about me not being licensed…I was took many tests licensed in several states to originate mortgages. I don’t know if you got the memo, but I don’t have to have a real estate license in order to help people save their homes.

        You said, “Think about it, how can their be several ratified contracts in place to buy a single property?”—by Andy Faria

        Andy, you are very naive to say the least. I know you just got your license, but go talk to somebody who has 20 years plus in mortgage/real estate business and then ask that question again…

      • Sduran165

        TYPO

        “I was took many tests licensed in several states to originate mortgages.”

        I meant to say I took and passed many tests in several states to get my license to originate.

      • http://northeast-properties.com Andy Faria

        You’re correct Steve, I did just obtain my MA RE Brokers license on 1/26/2011. The license number is 9518603. Before that I held a MA RE Salesperson’s license for six years. That license was issued 1/6/2005 and the license number is 9072725. Did you miss that, or decide to leave it out?

        I’m short on time and tired of you but I’ll do my best to hit it all as quick as I can …

        Nope not a member of NAR, they’re a great assoc but never have joined, maybe someday .. I’ve never once called myself a guru .. RE-LITTER make’s no sense and is stupid (nobody’s laughing) .. I have never preyed upon anybody from this site (fabrication) .. our brokerage’s commissions are actually higher on average than what you suggested (disclosed and legal) .. the straw buyer thing doesn’t even deserve a response .. I wish I had just graduated high school (1997) .. I did skip college after high school, went to boot camp instead (USCG) .. the answer to my question – there can only be one buyer, if there are multiple offers its up to the Seller which one is highest and best, and only that offer is presented to the lender (I know what you read, it came from an unsourced article, you can’t believe everything you read Steve)

        And to think all this started over one simple question, “hire an attorney for what?” It was such an easy question, instead of just answering it you’ve now hurled childish insults and have made a number of completely fabricated statements about me in an attempt to somehow discredit me. Who knows, had you just answered that one easy question, we may have had a pleasant conversation.

        Well I think that just about covers all of your questions. Tomorrow is Monday and I’ll be back in the real world so I’ll have to leave this bizzarre discussion behind. I’ve had fun and I’m glad you got to learn so much about me. I’m sure you won’t miss your opportunity to get the last word, so while your at it how about letting us all know what law firm do you (Steve Duran) represent? (third time)

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