The Daily Dupe: How a borrower goes to jail, but the big bankers don’t

Welcome to “The Daily Dupe,” your daily highlight of the big banks’ spin machine. We’ll be posting a “dupe” everyday in the lead up to our second National Attorneys General Call-In Day on Tuesday, March 29.

Come back to Crime Shouldn’t Pay tomorrow for info on how you can make your call. Tomorrow is critical because the state Attorneys General will be meeting with Bank of America, Wells Fargo,  J.P. Morgan Chase and more on Wednesday to start negotiations for the final settlement. The Attorneys Generals need to hear from us now!

Today’s Daily Dupe brings us the story of Charlie Engle, now in federal prison for his role in the housing market mess. Is he a big banker that gambled with mortgages and crashed our economy?


One of the shady mortgage brokers that the financial firms turned to for generating the mortgages they repackaged and sold on Wall Street?

No again.

Charlie Engle isn’t one of the big guys, like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo, who turned our housing market into a betting table and lost big for families and communities—but still managed to line their pockets following a massive public bailout.

Unlike the big bankers the federal government won’t touch, Charlie Engle is a borrower convicted of mortgage fraud, resulting from a couple property deals that went bad when the bubble burst. He’d been speculating in real estate to fund his training for ultramarathons, and his appearance in a 2008 ultramarathon documentary caught the eye of an IRS investigator, who did undercover surveillance of Engle and eventually sent a wired female agent to get him to say something on tape.

Joe Nocera, who shared this story over the weekend in the New York Times, calls the case “seriously weak.” But Engle was convicted and is now serving his term in federal prison.

As Nocera writes, this case shows “if nothing else, that when the federal government is truly motivated, there is no mountain it won’t move to prosecute someone it wants to nail.”

With millions of families losing their homes to foreclosure (including untold number of fraudulent foreclosure), and millions more seeing home values plummet, why aren’t the big banks being held accountable?

Our state attorneys general are investigating the big banks for massive foreclosure fraud and mishandling of loan modifications. Homeowners are demanding that the result be a strong settlement that holds the big banks accountable for their crimes and provides justice to millions of homeowners.

For more info on what a final settlement should look like, read The Homeowner’s Bottom Line.

Tomorrow, thousands of homeowners from around the country will call their Attorney General and demand that they choose a side—the homeowners they’ve sworn to protect or the big banks that broke the law and bankrupted the economy. Click here to join on our campaign on Facebook and to tell your friends to join the fight on March 29.

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