Finding out that your bank is attempting to foreclose on your home is up there among the most distressing things that could ever happen to you. But this couple from Florida weren’t about to go down without a fight – especially as they’d already paid for their home. And their plan for revenge was deliciously ironic…
Warren and Maureen Nyerges live in the Golden Gate Estates in Naples, Florida, where they own their home. But, as you might have guessed, they were about to be in for a shock – and one that had absolutely no bearing on the truth of their situation.
You see, Warren, a retired police officer, and his wife, Maureen, purchased their 2,700-square-foot home with $165,000 in cash in 2009. And because the couple effectively owned it outright, with no outstanding debts, they had no need for a mortgage.
Indeed, the couple had purchased the home directly from Bank of America after its previous owner had defaulted on payments and the bank had reclaimed the property. This was all simple information that would certainly have been in the bank’s records. But apparently that didn’t occur to the multinational corporation at the time.
Because in 2010 the Bank of America attempted to foreclose on the Nyerges’ home. Foreclosure is a broad term that applies to any loan, not just one levied against a house or property. It refers to the process whereby a lender tries to recover the full amount of a loan because the borrower has ceased making payments.
The usual means by which the full amount is recovered is by selling, or claiming back, the asset. So in the case of a house, if mortgage payments had stopped, the bank would normally try to reclaim the property. And this is exactly what happened with the Nyerges’ home’s previous owner.
Warren and Maureen, however, had paid cash for their home, and so there was no mortgage to stop making payments on. The Bank of America, therefore, was clearly in the wrong. “I talked to branch managers, I called anyone who would listen to me,” Warren Nyerges told the Naples News. “I wrote a certified letter to the [bank] president. No response, nothing.”
To ensure the bank didn’t wrongfully seize the property they rightfully owned, then, the couple hired an attorney to defend them. That attorney was Todd Allen, a man who had only been practicing law for a mere eight months. Allen, however, was the only lawyer who would take the Nyerges’ case and fight the powerful corporation.
Eventually, then, the Bank of America dropped the case against Warren and Maureen. And to its mind, that was probably the end of an embarrassing chapter. But in fact it was only really the beginning for the bank. After all, it had caused undue stress to the couple – and that wasn’t the only damage incurred.
It turned out that the whole ordeal had caused the couple to rack up a whopping $2,534 in legal fees. And as the Bank of America was the party at fault, the pair informally asked that it cover their outstanding debt to their attorney.
But despite multiple requests from Warren and Maureen, their request fell on deaf ears. And so instead, they were forced to turn to the courts. Thankfully, the court sided with the couple. In fact, the Bank of America was formally ordered to settle the pair’s legal fees, which had been incurred through its mistake.
Five months later, however, the debt had still not been paid off – despite plenty of phone calls and letters from both the Nyergeses and their attorney, Allen. Finally, then, Allen had no choice but to take the last resort to make the bank hand over the cash.
“They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated,” Allen told CBS News in June 2011. So, what was that next step? Well, it was a move that would absolutely turn the tables on the Bank of America.
Indeed, Allen retaliated by moving to foreclose on the bank itself. He first acquired an order of foreclosure and then turned up at a local branch with sheriff’s deputies in tow. And that’s when the real revenge could begin.
The deputies, under instruction from Allen, began removing furniture, computers and even cash from the bank tellers’ drawers. Eventually, the bank manager relented. After checking with his own superiors, he wrote Allen a check for $5,772.88, covering the original fees and the extra costs that had been incurred since.
Furthermore, the bank issued a written statement to Warren and Maureen, apologizing for the late payment of the funds. It did not, however, express any regret for attempting to foreclose in the first place. Plus, the corporation even managed to spell the couple’s surname incorrectly in the correspondence.
An aggrieved Allen later told WINK-TV, “Having two Sheriff’s deputies sitting across your desk, and a lawyer standing behind them, demanding whatever assets are in the bank can be intimidating. But, so is having your home foreclosed on when it wasn’t right.”
Unsurprisingly, Warren and Maureen were happy to put the ordeal behind them, as Allen said they were “drained emotionally.” After all, almost having your house taken away – the house you always thought you had owned – is a frightening prospect.
Bank of America spokesperson Jumana Bauwens, meanwhile, told ABC News, “Basically, we’re truly sorry for the series of unfortunate circumstances that Mr. Nyerges experienced. He received a judgment – and rightly so. On Friday, that judgment was paid.”
Nevertheless, the settlement was still paid five months late, and only after Allen and the couple had turned the tables on the corporation. The fact they needed to do it at all paints a sorry picture for the bank and its haste to foreclose, but there’s no denying how wonderfully on point this revenge was.