Action 9: Family says it is taking a stand against bank

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CORNELIUS, N.C. - A local family feels big banks have gotten away with too much the last few years.  Now they're out to prove a point, even if it means losing their home.

Maria and Chris Friscia bought a house in Cornelius.  When the banking crisis hit, they heard about banks buying and selling mortgages so much, some people had trouble figuring out who even owned their mortgage.  So the Friscias asked Bank of America to see their actual note.

They got the paperwork.  And, Maria says, her husband's initials were wrong.  They accused the bank of forgery.  They decided the mortgage contract was no longer valid, and they didn't have to pay.  So they stopped.  They put the money in escrow.  BofA started foreclosure proceedings.

Action 9's Jason Stoogenke asked them, "Are you willing to lose your house over this out of principle?" 

"Probably.  Probably so this doesn't keep happening to other people,” Maris Friscia said.

Their lawyer, Matthew Ceradini, said there's a double standard, that homeowners have to cross their “T's” and dot their “I's,” but that banks don't. 

"It sounds simple, but it's the fight that needs to be fought right now," he said.

They sued Bank of America, lost and are appealing. 

The bank doesn't typically comment on pending litigation, but it did on this case.

A spokesperson emailed Action 9, "Courts have determined that the claims by Mr. and Mrs. Friscia were without merit. In the original foreclosure case, the state Superior Court ruled that the note was signed by the borrowers, the debt is valid and the foreclosure can proceed. That ruling was not appealed by the Friscias. In January, they voluntarily dismissed a case that they had filed in federal court prior to the judge issuing a decision. Their subsequent state case was dismissed with prejudice by the Superior Court in April and is currently on appeal.  We work hard to assist our customers when they are not able to make their mortgage payment, including identifying alternatives to foreclosure. From 2010 to 2013, we made several attempts to gather documentation and consider the Friscias for a modification, and options may still be available to them, depending on their current financial situation and program qualifications. In the meantime, foreclosure proceedings remain on hold during the litigations and there is no sale date pending at this time."

Attorney Brenna Taylor, with McMillan & Psaroudis in Charlotte, handles real estate cases and is not tied to this case.  She suggests this for viewers who may be upset with their lender: 

"As a general rule, mortgagors should never unilaterally withhold mortgage payments.  If a mortgagor has a complaint with their lending institution, the consumer should navigate through the appropriate channels within that institution to file the complaint and seek relief therefor,” she said. “While it is important to note that the consumer should refer to the terms of their individual Promissory Note and Deed of Trust, missing even just one mortgage payment will generally give the lending institution the right to put the consumer immediately in default.  Default can have significant and lasting consequences, including but not limited to, foreclosure and a negative impact on the consumer's credit."