Sunday, September 08, 2013

Nothing left to lose

This is criminal. Witness government sponsored predatory debt collection.
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.

Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.

All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
But mostly because the government sold his city lien to an out-of-town debt collection company which proceeded to rack up a boatload of bogus fees and added it to his bill.
Coleman, struggling with dementia, was among those who lost a home. His debt had snowballed to $4,999 — 37 times the original tax bill. Not only did he lose his $197,000 house, but he also was stripped of the equity because tax lien purchasers are entitled to everything, trumping even mortgage companies.
Mr. Coleman is not alone.
Foreclosures have upended families in some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. Houses were taken from a housekeeper, a department store clerk, a seamstress and even the estates of dead people. The hardest hit: elderly homeowners, who were often sick or dying when tax lien purchasers seized their houses.

One 65-year-old flower shop owner lost his Northwest Washington home of 40 years after a company from Florida paid his back taxes — $1,025 — and then took the house through foreclosure while he was in hospice, dying of cancer. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her family home to a Maryland investor over a tax debt of $44.79 while she was struggling with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home.
How did we reach the point where such vicious preying on the elderly and the weak is legal? These vultures shouldn't be in business, they should be in jail.

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"How did we reach the point where such vicious preying on the elderly and the weak is legal?"

With a lot of righteous rhetoric, business friendly legislation and a lot of the public not giving a shit.

Why is it legal to lend money at 400% to desperate people? Why is it legal to confiscate cash and property without due process? Civil forfeiture is a national disgrace and yet nobody gives a damn because they think it can't happen to them.

It can. Maybe it should.

10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

The invisible hand of the free market, clenched into a fist, battering the old and the weak to a pulp. May we live long enough to see these vile predators suffer their karmic kickback.

2:51:00 PM  

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