Foreclosure Fighter

Billi Vogan and Lee Traupel win with support of church and community

Billi Vogan and Lee Traupel win in court with support of church and community

This article by Sharon Delgado was published in Response Magazine, February, 2013.

Foreclosure Fighter

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells of a woman seeking justice from an unjust judge.  She persistently demanded, “Grant me justice against my opponent.”  For awhile the judge refused, but finally he relented and granted her request, “so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”  Jesus then said, “And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.”

Billi Vogan, a member of Nevada City United Methodist Church in Northern California, is living out a modern example of that story.  For almost three years, she has been seeking justice from U.S. banks and courts in an ongoing effort to save her home.

Ms. Vogan and her husband, Lee Traupel, have filed a precedent-setting case in federal court for wrongful foreclosure.  They hope ultimately to regain the title to their home.  Without Ms. Vogan’s willingness to work tirelessly, the couple might have walked away long ago, as  many families do.  But in her case, as the foreclosure process unfolded, she became a “foreclosure fighter,” supported by her church and community.  Here is her story.

Applying for a Loan Modification

In 2004, Ms. Vogan and Mr. Traupel put $100,000 down on a modest home in Penn Valley, California.  They took out a conventional mortgage with affordable payments.  During the economic crisis, their business suffered and their income declined.  In 2010, they approached their bank for a loan modification.  Wells Fargo representatives advised them to stop paying their mortgage in order to qualify.  Ms. Vogan said, “I felt like we were jumping off a cliff, but we did what they said.”

She worked hard on the loan modification process.  “It was like a full-time job,” she said.  She filled out and faxed all the paperwork–again and again.  There was no single point of contact, so she talked with a different bank representative and answered the same questions each time she called.  Six months later, they still encouraged her to wait.

Finally, Ms. Vogan was able to talk in person with a loan modification officer. He told her that they didn’t qualify for a loan modification because their mortgage had been turned into a Mortgage-Backed Security (MBS).

The light went on!  Because she had been doing her homework, Ms. Vogan knew what an MBS was.  The mortgage itself had been sold and pooled with thousands of other mortgages. This pool was then sliced into sections and sold to investors, who traded them in a manner similar to stocks.  MBSs and their derivatives brought down the financial system in 2008, and families are still feeling the results today in the foreclosure crisis.

 Dual Tracking:  Bait and Take

Ms. Vogan and Mr. Traupel soon faced foreclosure.  They had been dual tracked.  Here is how it happens:  The bank advises you to stop paying your mortgage in order to qualify for a loan modification.  You don’t know it, but as soon as start on that track, the clock starts ticking, because you’ve also started down the foreclosure track.  The end of the foreclosure track often comes first.

CJ Holmes, the Housing Policy Director of Home Owners for Justice, calls this “bait and take.”  Sometimes it results in a loan modification.  More often, not.  The “bait” is the offer of a loan mod.  The “take” is foreclosure.

In 2011, Wells Fargo foreclosed.  At this point, many people walk away.  Instead, the couple filed an “unlawful foreclosure” case in Federal Court against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank (which claimed to have an interest).  Bank lawyers attempted to have the case dismissed, but the federal judge declined to dismiss and found ten of their causes against the banks to be valid.  The case will be decided in Spring, 2013.

Finding Support

 Although this case is ongoing, Wells Fargo tried to evict the family.  Ms. Vogan reached out for support to her church and community. She joined the Foreclosure Support and Empowerment Group that met in the church, and joined with others who were struggling to save their homes.  Her story was published on FaceBook and YubaNet, an online news source.  Her interview on  Community Television was posted on YouTube.  A Change.org petition of support was circulated.  The local Occupy Foreclosure Defense group demonstrated their support outside the local Wells Fargo Bank.

On April 13, 2012, Ms. Vogan and Mr. Traupel faced an Unlawful Detainer hearing before a Nevada County judge.  Bank lawyers were pushing for eviction. Before the hearing, supporters held a prayer service in the church, then a vigil outside the courthouse as the case was heard.  Supporters celebrated with the family after the judge ruled in their favor.  They can stay in their home, paying fair market rent, until the federal case is decided

In concluding the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge, Jesus asked, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Billi Vogan is an example of faith.

She is tired.  While working full time, she is trying to keep this case alive.  She needs a lawyer, so that the banks’ lawyers do not crush her in federal court.  But she is persistent.  She continues to seek justice.  Her faith keeps her going and she is grateful for each day.  She said, “It’s only with the support of my church and community that I have come this far.”

3 thoughts on “Foreclosure Fighter

  1. I am so proud of what my sister and brother-in-law are doing. So many people have been affected by the greediness of the big banks but they feel they don’t have a chance of winning. Billi Vogan and Lee Traupel have proven that maybe they can prevail. Keep up the good fight! I am behind you.

  2. Stay the course. The banks and Wall Street have created the largest Ponzi scheme and land grab ever created in all recorded history. They should be in jail for creating this monster.
    Your loan was paid off by credit default insurance.The average home was insured at least 30 TIMES over the loan amount. When the default was registered, the insurance had to be paid, but not to the pool investors, instead to the swindlers who constructed the scheme. The law says that no matter WHO paid off the loan, such as a kindly aunt or a stranger, once it is paid off, there is no obligation on your part. The debt is gone and without a debt, the deed of trust is worthless. The law does not allow collection on an already paid off debt. FRAUD is never a basis for taking away your home!

    —Without your knowing consent, and with numbers showing more money could be made by the banksters if people defaulted than if they paid, you were made part of a scheme in which you never would have knowingly taken part. This is called FRAUD. I know you want to pay someone, but the all the “someones” possible have already received insurance money for your loan many times over!
    You are honest and do not want a “free house” but you should not be forced to pay the wrong people or the ones who have already collected the full amount over and over again for your one loan. Who should you pay? The insurance company would have a claim if they had written that into the credit default insurance policies,as a subrogation clause, but they did NOT. How would you be responsible for paying off your loan 30 times or more to an insurance company? The greedy insurance company got paid nice premiums for the insurance policies. The bankers could insure each loan as many times over as they liked and even marketed the “we are betting you will default” policies as investments! Do you want to reward the crooks who got you involved and have already made many times the amount of your loan because of your unknowing participation?

    A REAL lender (old fashioned bank) would be helping you find a way to make payments during hard times. They would avoid foreclosure as their first choice in outcomes because it hurts the bank (who would NOT have taken out numerous credit default policies on your loan – a practice which used to be illegal for obvious reasons). They would have counted on you paying on the loan in order to make their money, not hoping you would fail in order to give themselves a windfall worth 30 times the loan amount! These Wall Street investment pool collection agencies (loan servicers) have an entirely different agenda. They plan to get paid many times over AND take the house! That your credit rating is destroyed and even renting an apartment after this loss could be nearly impossible for you is their icing on the evil mortgage foreclosure fraud cake. (BTW please ask that your credit rating be restored by the servicer reporting to the agencies as part of your lawsuit)

    IMPORTANT: if you get an attorney, his hands will be tied without research and professional witnesses, same for you, it you are pro per.

    Get a private investigator to research the person who signed your notice of default and also any other important “foreclosure” documents (substitution of trustee, assignment (years after the closing date of the pool). Over and over it is found that the signers had no personal knowledge of the loan, did not hold any authority to sign, didn’t even work for the companies stated, and are “robo-signers”. The California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights is now in effect. You can get an injunction to stop the loan servicer for the pool from taking your home and they can also be fined for using robo-signed documents.
    Please research the new law for details about your rights!
    ALSO:
    You need a reputable and skilled home loan researcher to look into your loan documents and do a BLOOMBERG report. This shows if your loan has already been paid off. Most HAVE BEEN PAID by the credit default insurance. it is also entirely possible the loan pool that the servicing company (US Bank, Wells Fargo, etc, as servicer) is collecting for, NO LONGER EXISTS, is DEFUNCT, and DISSOLVED! You could sign up with Bloomberg yourself ($2,000.00permonth) and Bloomberg can train you to look up loans and their status, but you still need an independent witness to do this and present the research as a declaration under penalty of perjury in support of your case. Your researcher-witness must be ready to go to court as a live witness if needed and have credentials and experience in this field that can stand up to the opposing attorney’s efforts to knock them down.

    AND: Research into the wire funds transfers also usually show that the entity named on the note and deed of trust is usually NOT the actual FUNDER of the loan. The law is simple…the loan originator has to have put up money in order to have the right to collect it or transfer that right or sell that right to anyone else. If, according to the funds transfer record, you received funding for your loan from someone else, not the entity on note, you need to deny ever getting a loan from the entity listed on the note. It is fraudulently trying to take your money and home.

    Further research into these “Franken-loans” reveals that the loans were usually never transferred into the pools to begin with! The pools are a fraud! Look at the “Horace” case. It is a blueprint for how these pooled loans were handled. The winning key of course was the excellent research and professional declaration and report by a credentialed witness (in that case, an attorney who specialized in New York securities law) used to verify what happened to the loan. The judge was amazed that the bank had failed to put the loan into the pool. The bank had tried to put it into the pool years after the closing date. The IRS does not allow these Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (REMICS) to do that. They lose REMIC status and owe 100% in tax penalties if they disregard this.The New York laws and controlling instrument (Pooling and Servicing Agreement) governing the pool were (as usual) ignored by the bank.

    This is a little of what I have learned after about 3 years of battle with a nasty loan servicer, whose attorneys have lied and cheated every inch of the way, including recording fraudulent documents with the county recorder DURING the case!

    God be with you. I congratulate you for taking a stand. You are taking part in shining a light in the dark for others. Evil hates light.

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