If you're one of the nation's top "foreclosure mill" law firms—representing Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo in their attempts to foreclose on homes and evict homeowners—what better way to celebrate Halloween than by throwing a party where everyone comes as a dirty, homeless victim of your practice?
The New York Times' Joe Nocera was sent a series of photos from a Halloween party thrown last year by the firm of Steven J. Baum—the "merciless" foreclosure mill, subject of a Justice Department investigation, and defendant in at least two class-action lawsuits over its shady foreclosure practices. In one photo, two women with fake dirt on their faces hold a sign that says "3rd party squatter. I lost my home and was never served!!"; in another, a woman holding a beer bottle in a paper bag pushes a shopping cart with a sign saying "will work for food." They're pretty horrible! Like, "would offend the richest, whitest frat at the most conservative university in the south" horrible. You can see the rest of the photographs here.
But, oh, it's just Halloween, right? Usually Baum employees are kind and empathetic to the people whose lives they're ruining, aren't they? Well... no. The anonymous woman who sent the photos to Nocera says that they're emblematic of the culture at Baum:
In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners - invariably poor and down on their luck - that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm's mind-set. "There is this really cavalier attitude," she said. "It doesn't matter that people are going to lose their homes." Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
The firm, when contacted by Nocera, called the photos "another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work." Well... yeah. Because your firm is horrible and your work sucks.