American Banks’ Record-Shattering Crime Spree

The hottest new revenue flow trend in banking is simply stealing money from your customers. Via the Village Voice:

You wouldn’t know it by watching the news or reading the paper, but America’s banks are on the largest crime spree the country has ever known. Let’s go to the highlight reel, shall we?

In July, Wells Fargo paid a $175 million settlement after the feds caught its brokers systematically pushing minority customers into mortgages with higher rates and fees, even though they posed the same credit risks as whites. One study found that Wells Fargo charged Hispanics $2,000 more in what the Justice Department called a “racial surtax.” The bank docked blacks nearly $3,000 extra for their own improper pigmentation.

But despite a colossal civil rights fraud perpetrated against 30,000 customers, the settlement amounted to just .011 percent of the San Francisco bank’s annual income.

Across the country, in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank also swindled its customers. Instead of logging debit card purchases in the order they were made, the bank rearranged them from highest amount to lowest, the better to artificially stick customers with overdraft fees. U.S. Bank paid $55 million to settle a class action suit in July. It was the 13th major bank caught running this scam.

Yet these titans of finance were pikers compared to American Express. It promised $300 to anyone who signed up for its Blue Sky card, then decided it would be way better to just stiff them. The company was also caught charging illegal late fees and discriminating against older applicants.

Bank of America was caught illegally foreclosing on the homes of active-duty soldiers. Visa and MasterCard were charged with fixing the prices they charged merchants to process credit card payments. Morgan Stanley colluded to drive up New York electricity prices. And in the most depraved case of all, Morgan Stanley was even sued for allegedly swindling Irish nuns in an investment deal.

If they’d been common robbers, the bankers surely would have faced indictments. After all, their scams have run for years, their breadth and coordination breathtaking. But not a single boss went to jail. Some firms settled for just a fraction of what they’d stolen. Most have never admitted wrongdoing, and many saw their stock prices rise. America’s country club set has forged its own replica of the Mafia—only bigger, broader, and capable of unleashing far more damage on the U.S. economy.

22 Comments on "American Banks’ Record-Shattering Crime Spree"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Dec 6, 2012 at 9:34 am |

    this is ‘post-racial’ america, remember.

    • BuzzCoastin | Dec 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm |

      you’d think that Banksters would be nicer to Blacks
      what with Obama’s gifts and slavish attention to their needs
      and Obama being living proof that racism in Der Homeland is dead

      • Jin The Ninja | Dec 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm |

        i kinda bet they feel genRus giving them usury-rates for mortgages and ‘coloured folk’ surcharges. price of bizness afterall.

  2. Anarchy Pony | Dec 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    In other news: Water; wet, sky; blue. Unless you live in Washington, then it’s grey.

    • Jin The Ninja | Dec 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

      sun is entirely overrated. i’d take 350 days of grey and light showers any time.

      • BuzzCoastin | Dec 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

        The sky may be gray in WA, but can it top the pollution content of Beijing?
        It adds a new and substantial meaning to the phrase “gray sky.”

        • Jin The Ninja | Dec 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

          i spent a week in beijing last december. i spent a week recovering from the sinus infection caused by that gray cloud. although TCM worked wonders (some concoction with pig’s gall), i think next time i’ll wear an oxygen tank when i’m anywhere near the ‘big smog.’

          • BuzzCoastin | Dec 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

            after 4 years I’ve developed the “Beijing Hack”
            a cough that sounds like a lung is coming up
            that sound used to repel me, now I understand
            I’m outa here right after Chinese New Year

          • Any thoughts on where you’re going to go?

          • BuzzCoastin | Dec 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm |

            I’m headed back to Hawaii for some R&R
            and see what happens next
            looking into some sustainability projects to see if any fit

            I haven’t spent much time in Der Homeland since 07
            Hawaii is as close as I want to get
            at the same time keeping all my outa Der Homeland options open

  3. sweep in fee | Dec 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |

    The banks do pay more but in lobbying efforts instead of the people they owe or have wronged. Must have been some brilliant exec’s idea to charge by race.

  4. Anybody else notice female bank tellers acting like hookers to get you to join the bank? when say you cash a check? I am not joking. Like serious flirting, cleavage, push up bras, pouting when you don’t join.

    • BuzzCoastin | Dec 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

      I haven’t been inside a bank for years, but based on your report, it sounds like it’s gotten a lot better. Most of the bank tellers I ever saw were not even in the neighborhood of that. I think I need to visit a bank.

      • Well, I finally did join and this buxom brunette was signing me up. My credit’s not the greatest. So then half way through she covers her sweater over her ample cleavage and the smile fades from her face. She said “you have some negative things on your credit score”.. I guess the titties are only for people with good credit!

        • InfvoCuernos | Dec 7, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

          Isn’t that always the way? I was having no fun one day at my local credit union and the teller couldn’t understand why I was making such a fuss over a small ($60) charge for something I didn’t think I should have to pay (more) for, so I resorted to some pettiness of my own: I pointed to the band-aid on her wrist that was obviously an attempt to cover a healed tattoo. I asked her if her boss made her cover it. when she said yes, I looked her in the eye and called her a slave. Probably not the most diplomatic move, considering she has access to my money, and she was black, but fuck em, I got a balance of $35 in there right now so how much damage could she do?

          • Yeah, that would be cool if Bank tellers looked like people working for head shops! Co-op, head shop, coffee shop-those seem to be the only places people can work and pretty much be themselves.

          • InfvoCuernos | Dec 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

            Ya, its funny to watch how that hippie-crit generation that talked all that nonconformity shit back in the 60’s and 70’s is perpetrating it now. My cool hippie parents are rupublicanized now. Pop is probably going to swing back to the left once he retires and wants to smoke pot again.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Dec 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
    Henry Ford, 1923

    There are either a lot of really ignorant people out there or they don’t mind being taken for ride, because the information is now widely known and there isn’t even an inkling of a revolution, let alone a reformation.

    • Excellent points, sir or madam, most excellent points.
      The Chaos Primer

      We use the word “chaos” in the title as that is the way in which the financiers, those senior capital holders, increase their wealth in the usual manner, e.g., corner the chocolate market, then finance violence and turmoil in the major chocolate producing country, massive concentrated speculation in the oil/energy markets, fomenting wars, etc.

      The Breakdown, Bitchez

      I may have been the first commenter on the Web to cite the example of the comparison of obvious fire insurance fraud to their economic weapons of mass destruction: a criminal covertly purchases numerous insurance policies against his neighbor’s home, then burns it to the ground, and collects many times over for his act of arson.

      Many attacked those of us who presented this example, and yet recent history has proven us 100% correct — dead center on the bull’s eye of the target.

      The prime example: John Paulson and his hedge fund, Goldman Sachs et al.

      Paulson and Goldman Sachs met and devised a CDO, the Abacus CDO, made up of the crappiest loans possible (guaranteed to default), then they purchased a boatload of credit default swaps (CDS, called naked swaps when the purchaser has no immediate connection to the investment, as was the case with Paulson), and then made a fortune — as in $3.4 billion for Paulson and billions for Goldman Sachs.

      You see, for each CDS purchased at $1.4 million Paulson had purchased, the payout was $100 million, and he purchased oodles and oodles of them.

      So AIG’s Financial Products group sold $460 billion of those unregulated insurance policies , or CDSes, with no capital on hand to back up a potential payout of between $20 trillion to over $40 trillion (note, the currency amount was in the trillions — hence the bailouts from the US Treasury along with over $23 trillion pumped out worldwide by the Federal Reserve Bank (we know it was over $23 trillion, but not how much over as there’s never been a forensic audit of the Federal Reserve).

      Magnetar Capital followed the same financial fraud process — 96% of their deals went bad, yet they walked away with billions. Ever wonder how those private equity guys make so much money while destroying companies (and employment) all the time? Well, now you know!

      Now, since the US Treasury is adamant that the naked swap continues to exist and thrive, this situation will occur again and again and again, only far worse, as debt has accumulated — their debt that is, the stuff they keep shoveling onto the rest of us while screaming for austerity for the rest of us! (Not surprising, given that the Treasury is comprised of so many Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase alumni.)

      Torpedoes of Trust

      I usually don’t quote Charlie Sheen, but this is an apt phrase.

      Around 2004, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the FBI announced an epidemic of mortgage fraud — no, not the banksters, who were actually and actively behind it, but individuals who they claimed purchased houses which they couldn’t afford and then flipped them or purchased houses they couldn’t afford and lived there until evicted — thus artificially setting the stage for the future disinformation campaign on the causes of that meltdown (see previous paragraph for that).

      A bizarre bit of news that was, especially given that the FBI has been orchestrating all those phony “terrorist events” over the past decade; the most recent one written about in a most outstanding and succinct fashion by Arun Gupta.

      The FBI typically goes into the poorest of neighborhoods and, using various snitches, etc., supplies some wayward and needy youth with money, and keeps pointing them towards some terrorist act or other, then makes their “newsworthy” bust for all to see.

      Of course, all during this time their director has been Robert Mueller III. Raised in a wealthy family — on the Truesdale side, connected to the Rockefeller Railroad Trust, William Truesdale was one of those involved with the Rockefeller South Improvement Company, which rigged transportation prices and either would ship only Rockefeller products, or give special preference and discounts to Rockefeller products, thus removing any and all competition from the market. (The organization still exists to this very day, only it’s now officially a government agency, the Surface Transportation Board.)

      [There was an attorney, George Truesdale, who was involved in defending the Rockefeller people responsible for blowing up the refineries of competitors, but it’s unclear if he’s related to the Mueller-Truesdale family.]

      Robert Mueller III was first appointed to the DOJ at the time of Iran-Contra proceedings; later he was promoted during President George H.W. Bush time to be chief of DOJ’s criminal division when the BCCI investigation began getting closer to the White House, but fortunately for them Mueller managed to quash it.

      One week prior to 9/11, Robert Mueller III would become the director of the FBI; another auspiciously timed appointment.

      A number of books have recently been published, all promoting Robert Mueller III as a pristine, stalwart shining knight of the justice system — contrary to the reality of his background.

      Should the powers-that-be happen to be positioning the FBI director for a 2016 presidential candidacy, the FBI has at least succeeded in removing one possible competitor, Gen. Petraeus, the former director of the CIA.

      (Interesting to note that Mueller is the grandnephew of Richard Bissell, one of the three top CIA people President Kennedy fired before he was assassinated, and Mueller’s wife is the granddaughter of Gen. Cabell, another of those top three!)

      From 1960 to 1970, the richest families in America were the Rockefellers, Morgans, Mellons and du Ponts. David Rockefeller, in 1960, was estimated to be worth approximately $30 billion, yet today he is “officially” worth only $2 billion?

      In 1970, the Mellon family was estimated to be the third richest family on the planet — yet today we are supposed to believe they are also-rans in the wealth department?

      Ditto for the du Ponts, Guggenheims, etc.

      Simon Johnson, former IMF stooge, now a professor of “economics” at MIT, would have us believe that Rockefeller gave away all his money; this is called philanthropy, as in the case when the super-rich purchases a piece of art for $100,000, then values it at $1 million, and donates it to a museum, deducting $700,000 on their tax returns — a cool profit of $600,000 — philanthropy?

      The Mellons were called philanthropists when they first established their foundations, yet these foundations took in more monies from tax exemptions than they ever paid out in donations (assuming those were real charitable donations and not more financial scams), but their foundations and trusts were ideal tax-exempt structures to hide wealth and ownership of other companies, more trusts, securities, and other investments, etc.

      How many foundations and trusts does the Rockefeller family have? No one truly knows, but certainly over 35 in number.

      Since 1970, it has been almost impossible to track the wealth of the uber-rich, with offshore trusts, unregistered trusts, endless holding companies obscuring ownership.

      The American public is led to believe the richest Americans are named Gates and Buffett — and while they certainly enjoy gargantuan wealth — their fortunes are reported using public sources by Forbes magazine, and the super-rich primarily list their wealth in private places (and if you believe a Forbes or a Rockefeller, you are one gullible rube!).

      The super-rich can afford the most extensive and subtle propaganda networks and conduits. Kevin Phillips is supposed to be a former conservative who writes critically of conservatives, yet an article of his in the ostensibly “leftist” or “progressive” Harper’s magazine, blamed the economic meltdown on the CPI (Consumer Price Index) — a patently absurd pronouncement!

      Barry Lynn also has written confusing drivel for Harper’s — plus a number of murky, confusing books of drivel: Lynn is a fellow at the New America Foundation, financed by the oil people, that is, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Rockefeller protégé, Peter G. Peterson.

      Notice anything suspicious about the aforementioned?

      The present consists of magical fiction and magical beliefs, where no one knows who owns the oil corporations, the banks, the pharmaceutical corporations, the weapons makers, etc., nor do we really know who the super-rich are today. We are told the Koch brothers’ combined wealth makes them the richest at $80 billion, but estimating the wealth of those four richest in the decade from 1960 to 1970, each an estimated worth of between $30 billion to $50 billion back then, one might guestimate they are worth at least hundreds of billions today.

      Gandalf has labored long and now must rest.

      (This is sgt_doom’s final rant.)

      Sources and suggested reading:

      Wealth, Power and the Crisis of Laissez Faire Capitalism, by Donald Gibson

      The Fine Print, by David Cay Johnston

      Extreme Money, by Satyajit Das

      Retirement Heist, by Ellen Schultz

      The Rich and the Super-Rich, by Ferdinand Lundberg

      Wall Street Capitalism: the Theory of the Bondholding Class, by E. Ray Canterbery

  6. lilbear68 | Dec 8, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    altogether now people BAAAAA

  7. This, the ‘Democracy” spread at gunpoint though out the world?

  8. alizardx | Dec 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |

    I’ve read that the average American pays an invisible tax of roughly 22% to the financial sector which is for practical purposes, totally unproductive. But unproductive is what rent-seeking is supposed to be all about.

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