Banks' Paperwork Foul-Up Cost Atlanta Woman Her Home


Sidnetta Smith (pictured at left) had to uproot herself and her children and move to North Carolina, leaving half of their belongings behind, when Bank of America foreclosed on their Atlanta home and evicted them.

That's painful enough, but there's an added rub: Smith's home wasn't BofA's to take – because the bank wasn't her mortgage lender.

Her loan was with Freedom Mortgage, and, Smith said, she had been current on her payments. But a paperwork foul-up had BofA thinking it owned Smtih's mortgage, and when the bank didn't receive her payments, it snatched her house, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

It's a nightmare that's been plaguing Smith since August 2009, when her original lender, a firm called Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, bellied up under a $3 billion mortgage fraud scheme. After TB&W closed, the government transferred many of its mortgages to BofA, but Smith had hers refinanced with Freedom Mortgage. Freedom resolved her debt to TB&W and issued her a new loan. But in the transfer from TB&W to BofA, many records of monthly payments and mortgage payoffs were temporarily lost. It wasn't until more than a year later, in December 2010, that Smith's mortgage transfer to Freedom was officially recorded.

By that time, however, BofA -- under the impression that it was the beneficiary of Smith's loan and that it was getting stiffed on her payments -- had foreclosed on her and hired a repossession company to remove her belongings and her family from her house.

"I miss it. I miss it a lot," Smith told the AJC, referring to her now-vacant home.

She said that -- once she started getting late payment notices from BofA -- she had tried to contact both BofA and Freedom to resolve the misunderstanding of who owned her mortgage. But she alleged that both banks gave her the runaround and refused to contact each other to work it out.

An attorney for Freedom told the AJC: "In connection with that refinance transaction, Freedom Mortgage paid off Ms. Smith's prior mortgage loan, which Bank of America thereafter improperly foreclosed."

BofA blamed TB&W for the mixup, the AJC said, and the bank has been trying to rescind its foreclosure on Smith.

But that doesn't change the fact that the lives of Smith and her children have been permanently disrupted. The family now lives in a three-bedroom apartment near Charlotte, N.C.

"We have a roof over our heads. We're grateful," Smith told the AJC. "But it can never replace a dream home you thought you'd have forever."

She's now suing BofA and Freedom over the ordeal. Her attorney, Charles Pekor, said that if BofA had checked property records, they would have seen that Smith had a new loan issued by Freedom. Smith also contends that Freedom botched the cancellation of her TB&W loan.

See also:
Woman Nearly Loses Home Over Unpaid Tax Bill That Wasn't Hers

Homeless Man Allegedly Rents Out Vacant Home to Tenants

'This Is Crazy': Company Snatches Condos from Owners

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