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Wisconsin Borrowers to Receive Restitution From Countrywide; Other Settlement Money Continues to be Used Towards Mediation Programs


"I am pleased that this settlement will now provide direct relief to Countrywide customers who lost their homes to foreclosure."
- Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen


MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that Bank of America (BOA), which acquired Countrywide Financial Corporation in 2008, will begin sending out over $824,000 in restitution to Countrywide customers who lost their homes to foreclosure.  


"I am pleased that this settlement will now provide direct relief to Countrywide customers who lost their homes to foreclosure," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.  "My office continues to make foreclosure issues and mortgage fraud a priority.  In the long run, prevention is key.  However, in these instances homeowners were misled into unaffordable loans and unfortunately lost their homes to foreclosure.  Restitution is now due."


Eligible borrowers took out subprime Countrywide loans between January 2004 and December 2007 and then lost their homes to foreclosure between 2004 and 2008.  Of the 648 eligible borrowers, 256 will receive at least $1,947.45 and 392 will receive at least $830.63.  The borrowers have already been notified and submitted claim forms.


The restitution is the latest part of DOJ's 2009 settlement with Countrywide, resolving a lawsuit that alleged misleading and deceptive practices in the sale of residential loans.  Under the terms of the settlement, Countrywide also paid over $800,000 to be used towards foreclosure mitigation efforts. 


Today's announcement reflects the Attorney General's continued focus on mortgage-related issues.  In May, 2009 Attorney General Van Hollen used a portion of the Countrywide settlement funds to join Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Marquette University in launching the Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program.  The Milwaukee program is intended to mitigate foreclosures in Milwaukee and serve as a resource for similar programs throughout the state.  As part of the program, Van Hollen named Nelle Rohlich as Special Assistant Attorney General for Mortgage Foreclosure Mitigation.


In  November, 2009 Van Hollen joined the FTC in a sweep targeting loan modification schemes.  Van Hollen also secured $3.2 million in restitution for Wisconsin homeowners in a multistate action against Ameriquest Mortgage Co.