Wells Fargo Repossesses Fully Paid-Off Car

Looks like banks are really bad at more than just home foreclosures. A woman in Tacoma, WA, was left car-less after Wells Fargo had her vehicle repossessed, even though she owned her car outright.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I thought they couldn’t take my car, but it’s gone!” the woman told Seattle’s King 5 News. “This was my only car…We’re missing out on a lot of stuff, I can’t take them to choir practice.”

The woman’s name is on the title, which she showed to police and which King 5 confirmed was authentic with the state’s Dept. of Licensing. Regardless, her 1999 Chrysler LHS was still hauled off to an auction yard.

“I called the police, showed them my title, and they still let them take my car,” the car’s owner said.

The owner was lucky enough to get the attention of King 5 problem-solver Jessie Jones, who managed to get a hold of Wells Fargo. The bank didn’t give the reporter a reason for the f-up, but did act to resolve the situation.

“The next thing you know the president of Wells Fargo is calling me,” says the woman, who finally got her car delivered back to her driveway. “They brought it back they way they got it.”

Once again, it’s nice to have this woman’s particular case resolved, but banks still don’t appear to be doing anything to fix the systemic problems that cause screw-ups like this to happen in the first place.

She owns the car but the bank repossessed it [King5.com via HuffPo]

Thanks to Rose for the tip!

Comments

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  1. nova3930 says:

    I’d be more worried about why the police are allowing someone to haul off a car with clearly held title. That’s all but allowing grand theft auto….

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Agreed. Do police uphold laws anymore? Or just ones that make them money through fines?

      • mikedt says:

        Bingo. If there’s no money in it, they don’t want to be bothered. And I’m sure the word of a Fortune 500 Corp always trumps an individual.

      • PsiCop says:

        My guess is that — as the situation presented itself — the cop viewed it as a “he said, she said” issue. That is, on the one hand he’s got a repo guy with paperwork from WF authorizing the repossession, and on the other, a title held by the owner. The cop can thus reject the word of a car owner and allow the repossession, or reject the word of a multi-billion-dollar corporation and send the repo guy packing.

        Naturally, then, the cop sided with the multi-billion dollar corporation, which probably has enough pull to get him/her into big trouble if they wished to, against the lone car owner who very likely cannot do the slightest thing to him/her.

        It all boils down to influence and incentive, and in this case, they were enough to render WF the “winners” in that contest.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          You use the word “naturally” as if this is the obvious choice. In a “he said, she said” situation, there’s nothing stopping the officer from siding with the “she” instead of the “he.”

          I doubt WF can put pressure on a police officer.

          • whittygirl says:

            Yeah, but my guess is they also go with the most likely scenario. If 9 times out of 10 the repossesser is correct, then they probably assumed they were correct this time as well. I’m not defending the rightness of their actions, but highly doubt they were malicious.

      • crashfrog says:

        I think the police consider their job to be to do “the most official thing”, that is, to side with and act on behalf of “authority.” And the rule for recognizing authority is basically this – a regular citizen is never the authority.

        In other words – show up in sunglasses and a suit, claim to be a cog in a very vast machine, and wave around some small-print paperwork, and the police will literally do whatever you say, to whoever you say to do it to. You look like just a regular person? You’re only a potential criminal, to the police.

      • cluberti says:

        The police are officers of the court, first and foremost. If it is true that there was an (incorrect) court order to repo the vehicle, the police officer, as an officer of the court, is legally required to uphold the court order. It’s not up to the police to make those types of decisions once a court has ordered something – they must simply uphold the law, or in this case, the court order.

    • Lucky225 says:

      I can see where this looks REALLY bad, however if there’s a court order for repossession this becomes a civil issue. For all the police know she may have gave the car as collateral for a loan (title-loan) and then went and filed a missing title application to get a duplicate. The duplicate would show the car outright owned by her, but the original may have her signature on the back with a lien held by Wells Fargo. At this point it’s for the court’s to decide, not the cops.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i see your point, but if she’s holding the title, you’d think the police would at least make wells fargo show proof of a situation like you described.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          This. It is not the police’s job to create possible scenarios and act on them. Their job is to respond to the factual information they have at the time and act accordingly. They had a title in her name and no evidence that WF owned the car other than their word.

          • Difdi says:

            I live in Washington state, and she would have been within her rights to go get a firearm and order the repo agent(s) to leave her car alone, and/or place them under citizen’s arrest for attempted grand theft. The fact that the police were present, but not interfering with the grand theft, does not negate her rights under state law.

            I kinda suspect the police would have gunned her down if she’d tried it though…

            • SChance says:

              Didn’t we go over this in the movers thread, Difdi?

              Washington state law – it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Absent a threat of bodily harm, the woman DOES NOT have the right to escalate the confrontation by using lethal force.

              I REALLY suggest you check up on the applicable RCWs, before you a)kill somebody, and b)wind up in prison for “criminal stupidity with a firearm.”

              • obits3 says:

                Could she lay on her car and demand that they leave her alone?

              • Difdi says:

                Using a firearm is deadly force, that’s true. However, the firearm is not in use in that sense until at least one bullet emerges from the barrel at high velocity. Threat of force to deter felony robbery is brandishing or menacing, but is considered justified if used to deter a felon. If someone chooses to use violence to commit a felony, deadly force is fully justified in Washington state.

                Further, Washington state permits a citizen’s arrest for both felonies (which is quite common among states) and misdemeanors (which is less common). Possession of a firearm does not in any way change a citizen’s arrest into a crime. Perhaps you are the one who should go read a few RCWs?

          • Lucky225 says:

            The COURT ORDER for repossession was evidence, a court had already decided it wasn’t hers. Until a court reverses that order or awards ownership back to the real owner, it is not for the police to decide. The COURT was supposedly shown evidence that there was not a clear title, they relied on that evidence and issued an order of repossession.

            • obits3 says:

              But why was she not given notice? You have the right to defend yourself before the court per the U.S. Constitution which is the “the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” If a court did issue a judgment then they have violated her Constitutional rights.

            • ShruggingGalt says:

              Not every state requires car repos to go through a court. All it takes is their word to the police, unfortunately…..

              So there is usually not a court order…..unless it’s after the fact and they’re looking for a deficiency judgment.

            • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

              What court order? My state, and I think most states, don’t require them for automobiles.

        • Lucky225 says:

          The proof is the COURT ORDER for repossession.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            i’m unable to watch the video at work but the linked article doesn’t specifically mention a court order. i have lived in states where the lender was able to reposses without court order so as far as i know, they might have.

          • physics2010 says:

            I’ve read the story and watched the video. There is no mention of a court order. A court order is not required for a lender to repo your vehicle. Actually having a claim on the vehicle would be nice though.

      • obits3 says:

        There is one BIG problem with your logic: This is a violation of due process!

        She had NO notice that the car was up for repossession. She should be allowed to defend her case in a court of law before this had happened. Why no notice?

        “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”

        • Firethorn says:

          It’s a civil matter, not a criminal matter.

          If the bank refused to make it right, it would have been up to her to file a lawsuit, especially given that WF had obtained a court order(indicates the court screwed up).

          • Difdi says:

            So if you told someone to go to a bank and “repo” the cash drawers, telling them you have the legal authority to authorize the “repo”, would that person be guilty of bank robbery if they believed you and obeyed your order?

            Yes.

      • madmallard says:

        they have to provide documents of such titleship during repossession afaik…

      • metalman420 says:

        The title loan people TAKE YOUR TITLE until you
        pay the loan. Please get a clue.
        If you have a title in your name you
        OWN the car free and clear.
        ONCE AGAIN..if you have a lean on your
        car for ANY reason they HAVE the title.

        • Lucky225 says:

          They take your title, but they do not necessarily file a lien on that title right away, thus if you head on over to the DMV immediately after your title loan and say ‘hey, I lost my title’, guess what the DMV is going to do, they’re going to issue you a 2nd title under your affidavit of lost title.

        • Billl says:

          wrong… I had a title mailed to me and I had to send it to the lienholder.

      • buckeyegoose says:

        And the title would say DUPLICATE while in this case it said ORIGINAL. Often times when a lien is cancled, they have to take it to whoever handles the titling in your state, and have them stamp it lien cancled. Then they mail you that title, that was issued in your name, but their name was listed as a lienholder. You can then take that and request a new title be issued that no longer shows them a a lienholder and would appear like you paid cash for the car from whoever you purchased it from, but there would be a new title number issued and it would say ORIGINAL. When i paid off my vehicle I did exacty this to advoid years later the bank having a screw up and puling what happened to this lady.

      • LastError says:

        There are relatively few court orders for repos. Nearly all vehicle repos are done using contract terms such as when you take out the car loan, you agree that the lender or lien holder has the right to repo the car without a court order. A mortgage will often have similar terms where allowed by law (i.e. non-judicial repos).

        If you don’t agree to the terms of that car loan, don’t borrow the money. That’s the simple way around it.

      • keepntabs says:

        You do have somewhat of an argument, but the issue date is also printed on the title document. If it has a date that is more recent than the date the bank claims it obtained title, then it is very unlikely that bank has a valid claim. However, it is not the police’s responsibility to investigate such matters; it needs to be settled in court.

        Besides returning her car, the bank should compensate the women for any inconvenience that was caused by erroneously repossessing her car.

    • kjherron says:

      The critical point here is lack of criminal intent. This was a big screwup by the bank, not a crime.

      • nova3930 says:

        The bank fully intended to take property that wasn’t legally theirs, sure sounds like the legal definition of “theft” to me….

        • Firethorn says:

          Yes, but the bank fully thought it WAS their property(due to default on secured loan), and when it was pointed out that it was false, they gave it back and apologized.

          That it took a watchdog organization is more a matter of getting somebody with the power(the president, in this case) to fix thing’s notice.

          • FredKlein says:

            Yes, but the bank fully thought it WAS their property(due to default on secured loan)

            The bank INCORRECTLY though it was theirs. If I buy a widget at a flea market, I think it is mine, because I paid for it. But, if it’s proven to be stolen, the cops can come and take it from me and give it to the rightful owner. And i get charged with receiving stolen property.

            , and when it was pointed out that it was false, they gave it back and apologized.

            No, when it was pointed out that it was false, they took it anyway. It was only after a large amount of attention was called to the case by the media that they gave it back. With an empty tank of gas. And no apology.

            • MrEvil says:

              Correction, you’re only charged with receiving stolen property if you know it’s stolen property. Or you might get charged with it anyway if you refuse to give it up even though you didn’t know it was stolen.

              When my dad was in high School a guy he knew offered to sell him some stereo equipment and auto parts real real cheap. My dad, having known this guy was rarely on the up and up refused because he KNEW this guy would drive into Amarillo at night and on the weekends and steal stereos out of cars. Pawn Shops have to hold any new buys for at least 30 days in most states in order to show due-dilligence in researching weather an item is stolen or not.

              • Greely says:

                You’re always going to be CHARGED with receiving stolen property in that situation. You might not be convicted, but be prepared for kangaroo court.

      • Bativac says:

        I just don’t get this criminal intent thing. They are trying to take something that they do not own, regardless of whether they think they own it or not.

        I understand the thought behind it — but that doesn’t make “taking something you don’t own from someone who does own it by force” any less criminal.

        • DanRydell says:

          It does, actually.

          • dolemite says:

            So let’s say you were born without the ability to comprehend “possessions”. You simply use/gather things as you come across or need them. This person could steal anything they wanted, because they lack the ability to determine ownership?

            • Firethorn says:

              Well, no, but it’s likely they’d end up declared mentally incompetent and in a mental institution.

              • Pax says:

                You can’t institutionalise someone unless they can be proven to (a) be unable to care for themselves, or (b) are a danger to themselves or others.

                • MikeF74 says:

                  They become a danger to themselves by virtue of taking stuff that doesn’t belong to them. They’re likely to be hurt or killed by someone defending their property. That sounds like an easy case for institutionalization.

          • Sumtron5000 says:

            If I’m going 60 mph in a 20 mph zone, and I honestly don’t know what the speed limit is, I still get a ticket. I didn’t mean to break the law, and I didn’t even know I was. Still guilty of speeding.

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              No, but if you get caught going 65 on a 55 like I did once, and you later explain to the judge that it was an honest mistake, you can often get a reduced sentence.

              Intent matters a great deal in the law, whether or not it’s a royal bank screwup. Just because people want to see the bank get really scolded very badly for being a baaaad baaaaad boy, the law considers intent (for better or for worse.)

      • kenj0418 says:

        So the police will assist/allow you to take someone else’s car when you can prove it belongs to you — As long as the person taking it is either crazy or stupid?

      • obits3 says:

        I didn’t intend to break your ribs when I punched you, so we’re cool right?

        • drizzt380 says:

          The crime is battery. You fully intended to commit battery by punching someone.

          Repossessing a car is not a crime. They fully intended to repossess a car.

          • obits3 says:

            You have proved my point.
            They did so without proper title. Because they should have known that they did not have title, they are acting as a criminal. Try to see this without the bank:

            I take your car and say that I have orders to take it. BUT I should know whether I have the title or not. If I do not have the title, then I am acting with the following intent:

            “I intend to take your car even though I don’t have the title.”

            This is criminal intent.

          • Sumtron5000 says:

            I wouldn’t call taking possession a car that’s paid off, while seeing proof that the title is in the woman’s name, “repossessing.”

            My neighbor just got a sweet lamborghini. I think I’ll go repossess it.

          • Difdi says:

            Hypothetical case: A man who lives in a castle doctrine state gets disoriented in some manner, and mistakes his neighbor’s house for his own. He can’t get the key to work, so he breaks the lock and goes inside. He quickly discovers there is an “intruder” asleep in his bed, so he grabs a handy kitchen knife, and proceeds to wake up the “intruder”. The “intruder” fights the man, and in the struggle, the “intruder” is killed. At no time did the disoriented man have intent to commit a crime; Would he face charges of breaking & entry, home invasion and murder? Yes, because whether he intended to break the law or not, he still committed those actions.

            Whether the bank believed they had a right to repo that car or not does not change the fact that they seized it from the lawful owner, and left.

          • Joe_lovz_buying says:

            You can not reposes what you do not own. The bank intended to repossess and auction off property they had no legal claim to.

            Taking what you do not own is theft.

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        And this is EXACTLY how they profit from things like this — the assumption that there was no criminal intent. How do you know? The odds and the laws work in their favor so why not rip people off?

        Consider how banks ‘mistakenly’ take money from people’s accounts. It’s a wealth-without-risk scam: if they steal it and A) you don’t notice (in cases of small amounts missing from your checking/savings account) or B) you don’t have the money to fight back (in the case of home or car repossession), it’s a win for the company. If you do notice and/or fight back, and you’re lucky enough to win, they simply shrug and chalk it up to a ‘mistake’. There’s no downside for them so they keep doing it. Where’s the oversight? Where are the fines for these so-called ‘mistakes’? If it suddenly became financially risky to screw people over it probably wouldn’t happen…as often.

        They know damn well what they’re doing. It’s 100% grade-A bullshit and it needs to stop.

        • obits3 says:

          I wonder how fast the banks would get thier act together if every time they F’d something up like this they had to give the wronged person 50% of the original value as a penalty?

          1. Wrongly take a $26,000 car = $13,000 to owner
          2. Wrongly take a $100,000 house = $50,000 to owner

        • Buckus says:

          They would probably clean up in a big damn hurry.

        • masterage says:

          I agree with this. Something isn’t right, something hasn’t been right, and nothing is actually being fixed.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          I fully agree. But never mind fines — how about real consequences for screw-ups like this one? How about jail time for the miscreants who repoed the vehicle (they should also be doing due diligence to ensure the repossession is valid) and the high-ups at the bank that told them to do so? There has to be accountability for things like this–a fine of a few thousand dollars would just be written off as a business expense. Let these idiots truly suffer, and we’ll see sh!t like this happen far less frequently.

      • Sumtron5000 says:

        Lack criminal intent? So if I’m driving drunk and kill someone, I only get charged with drunk driving, not murder/manslaughter/whatever legal charge? I didn’t intend to kill anyone, just drive drunk.

        • hansn says:

          You had intent to drive drunk. Involuntary manslaughter is murder without the intent to kill. This includes killing someone in the commission of another crime or through gross negligence. Many jurisdictions now also have a vehicular manslaughter and intoxicatory manslaughter offenses specifically.

        • banndndc says:

          i believe drunk driving falls under criminal negligence. actual intent becomes irrelevant because you should have known better. i would think the same applies in a wrongful foreclosure/taking case since a reasonable (not lazy ass) person would know.

        • JustLurking says:

          A man was convicted of murder in New York a few years ago for driving drunk, going the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway and then killing a limo driver and a young girl riding in his car, along with injuring several family members on the way to a wedding reception.

          Intent, indeed.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        That fails in the same way that pleading ignorance of a law fails.

        If you get a speeding ticket for doing 50 in a 40 zone, you don’t get off because you “didn’t know it was a 40 zone – I had no intention of being a criminal!”

        Someone seriously needs to talk to those police. That the state’s AG.

        • tanyaandkarl says:

          Sometimes criminal intent is required, sometimes it’s not.
          Google “strict liability”, then “mens rea” and read up on it.
          Check the laws in your state, IANAL, yadda yadda yadda…

      • kc2idf says:

        Once the title was shown, however, the power-trip should stop. For it not to do so seems criminal to me, and no, I’m not just being a smart-ass.

      • ludwigk says:

        Your analysis is incomplete. In some jurisdictions, recklessness will suffice for a finding of criminal scienter to satisfy the elements of a crime.

      • Shadowfax says:

        It’s called negligence. They have these problems. They know about these problems because they keep repossessing houses they have no right to repossess. They’re doing nothing to solve these problems. That’s negligence, and that means they’re liable for anything that happens as a result of that negligence.

    • milkcake says:

      Robots signed it off. Now that they are done with houses, moving on to the next big thing: cars.

    • you-toe-pee-an says:

      I’d sue them for trespass to chattels. Let the tort system handle the robo-signers.

    • Thorzdad says:

      The police will always side with the business. ALWAYS. Doubly-so when it’s a mega-corp like Wells Fargo.

  2. galm666 says:

    What sort massive error occurs in their system that says “this paid off car that this person owns in full is now back by X number of months on payment”?

    Seriously, I mean, once a car IS paid off, its account should somehow flip departments or be routed to an archive of some sort, right?

    • E. Zachary Knight says:

      Considering all the bills people get that state they owe $0.00 and must pay or it will go to collections, it is no surprise to me that this happened.

  3. Robofish says:

    This is getting more ridiculous every day. It’s making me scared to trust any bank except my credit union

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I feel like I should use the old bury-a-coffee-can-full-of-money-just-in-case trick.

    • galm666 says:

      I’m glad my bank is small and hometowney. That way, I can drive over to the offices and yell at someone if this happens to me.

    • Difdi says:

      When Wamu failed, and Chase took it over, I moved my money to a small, local bank. One that had branches in just my home town, and had few enough customers that they greeted me by name when I walked in the door. It failed without warning October 1st, and is now GBC International Bank. So much for small and local, eh?

      • jamar0303 says:

        For a bank with that kind of name it’s not that international. HSBC is international. GBC doesn’t reach quite so far going by their website.

    • jbandsma says:

      Don’t even trust your credit union. Ours sent us bills for a loan that had been paid off for 2 years. We had to get a lawyer to finally settle it.

  4. Angry JD says:

    She should sue Wells Fargo for the Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress and Gross Negligence.

  5. dreamfish says:

    Am I missing something or was there a total lack of apology from Wells Fargo for this screw-up (apparently making things worse by having effectively ‘stolen’ a tank full of gasoline).

    • Julia789 says:

      She said the president of the bank called her personally after the car was towed, shortly before it was returned. I would assume he called to apologize?

      I think it was nice of them to call her personally to apologize, rather than issue a press release apology. That counts quite a bit in my book. Most companies just send out a press release.

      They should do a little something extra though. A nice fat gift certificate, or a trip to the amusement park for her and the kids.

      • jnads says:

        Or if they were smart, money and offer to settle the matter in full legally binding.

        Before some lawyer reads the news and calls her up to offer to sue on contingency (*ca ching*).

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      She said it was just like they got it, empty tank and all.

  6. Murbob says:

    In situations like this, I think it is best to defend your ground and make the police arrest you and take you to jail. I would have treated the guy who was trying to reposes the vehicle like a common car thief.

    You then have a nice lawsuit and can make a few bucks against both the bank and the police.

    Is it just me or does this $hit never seem to happen in Texas where people have guns?

    • rlkelley says:

      I have often thought the same thing about people trying to foreclose on the wrong house in Texas. I mean here my neighbor can shoot you if he thinks you are taking my property while I am gone.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Well, your neighbor will most likely get away with it, but that’s NOT how the law is written. The crank in Houston who shot burglars coming out of his neighbor’s house should have been convicted as long as they weren’t threatening him or HIS property… and the deadly-force-protecting-property thing technically only applies at night, if memory serves, the Houston thing happened in the afternoon.

        • obits3 says:

          One of my favorite quotes:

          I’m from Texas. In Texas we have the death penalty. And we USE it.

          That’s right, if you come to Texas and kill somebody, we will kill you back. That’s our policy.

          They’re trying to pass a bill right now through the Texas Legislature that will speed up the process of execution in heinous crimes where there’s more than three credible eye witnesses. If more than three people saw you do what you did, you don’t sit on death row for 15 years, Jack, you go straight to the front of the line.

          Other states are trying to abolish the death penalty … my state’s puttin’ in an express lane.

          -Ron White

          • Pax says:

            … almost makes me want to move to Texas …

          • OnePumpChump says:

            Says someone who has never had multiple witnesses lie about him.

          • cluberti says:

            Because no one has ever been wrongly convicted of a crime and put on death row. Until humans are no longer a part of the “process”, and someone can convince me that whatever replaces the humans will be guaranteed to be right 100% of the time when sentencing someone to death, I’m not for it. Not because I think the death penalty is bad in and of itself, but because the people making the decisions are not infallible.

        • physics2010 says:

          You remember correctly, however that was prior to castle. It doesn’t have to be dark anymore.

        • physics2010 says:

          Oops. Theft vs Robbery. You were correct. Since this was only theft then it did have to be after dark.

          • Difdi says:

            Actually, the “repo” was robbery not theft. The key difference between the two is whether it happens in the presence of the owner. Theft is by stealth or when the owner is absent or otherwise unaware. The owner in this case was present, disputing the “repo” and the car was seized anyway. That’s robbery.

        • Powerlurker says:

          Directly from the Texas Penal Code:

          Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:
          (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and
          (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
          (A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
          (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and
          (3) he reasonably believes that:
          (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or
          (B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

    • freelunch says:

      heh…. Texas has two sides…

      Proper Texas: I gentleman in a suburb of Dallas saw a young man dropped off at a house where he proceeded to run around to the back… Seeing this as suspicious, the gentleman witnessing this grabbed his gun and ran around to the back of his neighbors house and found the young man about to kick in the back door. Though nobody ended up being shot, the young man did find himself with a gun pressed into the back of his head for the 10 minutes it took for police to arrive.

      Ghetto Texas: An East Texas woman’s car was being reposessed (legitimately), and her reaction was to toss her 1+ year old toddler through the back window of the suburban. Somewhat wreckless, but effective since the vehicle can not be recovered with someone in it (state law).

      • rambo76098 says:

        “Ghetto Texas: An East Texas woman’s car was being reposessed (legitimately), and her reaction was to toss her 1+ year old toddler through the back window of the suburban. Somewhat wreckless, but effective since the vehicle can not be recovered with someone in it (state law).”

        Was this Longview by chance?

  7. 3skr1mad0r says:

    Considering the CEO of Wells Fargo got paid over $21 million last year, he should have bought her a new car.
    I hope she has the badge numbers and names of the officers who F’d up. Considering she showed them the title, they sat idle as her car was stolen. They possibly were accesory to theft but good luck making that one stick.

    • obits3 says:

      I like your solution. WF should agree to buy her a new car up to $30,000 with TT&L(they keep the old one). This would be great PR for WF and teach the repossession people not to F up these things.

      • DanRydell says:

        Then we get a follow-up article complaining about the higher insurance rates and the income tax the owner would have to pay on the free car.

    • Difdi says:

      Actually, they were accomplices to robbery, not theft. The seizure of the car happened in the presence of the owner, elevating it from simple theft to mugging (robbery).

  8. Talisker says:

    We own the god damn 1999 Saturn that my wife brought to our marriage. I wish Wells Fargo would come tow it away so I can justify spending the money on a new car.

  9. dolemite says:

    Sorry, I’d need more than just my car back in that situation. I’d say …$1,000 would suffice, for my trouble and anxiety.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Also, Wells Fargo brought it back with an empty tank of gas. You stay classy.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Aren’t cars usually towed? How did they go through gas int he car during a towing?

      • The Black Bird says:

        The gasoline was probably siphoned from the tank by one of the people involved in the theft. My guess is it wound up in someone else’s gas tank. No one ever thought she would be getting back the car and even if she did it would be her word against their’s.

  11. Murbob says:

    In situations like this, I think it is best to defend your ground and make the police arrest you and take you to jail. I would have treated the guy who was trying to reposes the vehicle like a common car thief.

    When you tell the cop, “You’re going to have to arrest me because I am going to sue the crap out of you and your department when you do”, the cop will think twice.

    If they still take the car, then you have a nice lawsuit and can make a few bucks against both the bank and the police.

    If you take the attitude of a submissive twinkie, there’s not much you can do.

    Is it just me or does this $hit never seem to happen in Texas where people have guns?

    • Gravitational Eddy says:

      and you get to stand in front of a judge and say what?
      I acted the fool because the cops let them other fools steal my car?
      What does this accomplish?

      • c!tizen says:

        It accomplishes justice. What would you have done? Let them take your only mode of transpiration for you and your kids because the bank fucked up? Way to stick it to the man!

        • lucky13 says:

          Actually, it accomplishes publicity. If she had insisted on being arrested after showing she had clear title to the car, it would have made the cops AND the bank look even worse and she’d have more ammunition for legal action.

          I’d just tell the judge that I was arrested for preventing someone from stealing my car and the charges against me should be dropped. Then file suit against the police AND Wells Fargo.

          • Azzizzi says:

            I don’t think her goal was to make the cops look bad or to make the bank look bad, either.

            She wanted her car back. She eventually got it back. I think she did a good job.

            Getting herself arrested would have accomplished nothing, but would have kept her away from resources that would help her resolve the problem.

            If she couldn’t get to where she needed to be without her only mode of transportation, I doubt her kids could have gotten to where they needed to be without their only chauffer.

    • obits3 says:

      I live in Texas and my Dad used to joke that the local Gun store had NEVER been robbed (all employees were required to carry a sidearm).

      • econobiker says:

        There was a gun store near where I lived in TN where some suicidal noodle head thought that he could walk out of with various rifles on display near the front entrance. As he was exiting the store the owners/clerks yelled “Stop!” and said noodle head drew down on them with one of the guns as if he was going to shoot at them. Yes, gun store employees do carry loaded weapons, and no, the noodle head robber did not live beyond the front sidewalk at the doorway…

    • kmw2 says:

      I’m pretty sure threats of lawsuits don’t actually stop cops from arresting anyone.

  12. You-Me-Us says:

    The car wasn’t repossessed. It was stolen. That’s what you call it when someone, be it an individual, bank, or police department, takes something that belongs to you. Wells Fargo should be prosecuted for theft and the police officer (and maybe the entire department) for aiding and abetting.

    • humphrmi says:

      Unfortunately it’s a broken system. When repossessers (not a real word, I know, but bear with me) take a care it’s reported to the local police as a repossession. The police don’t ask for much in the way of evidence of said repossession… pretty much their word. If you call the police and report the car stolen, they won’t take a report because it’s on their “repossession” list. Apparently, even if you show them a clean title.

      So clearly the police failed here – in the face of clear evidence that this woman owned the car, they still let a repo man take it.

      Wells Fargo clearly misbehaved here, but I’m becoming increasingly annoyed and dismayed to hear about police and the justice system going along with these companies mistakes. Clearly we need to make a change in how government handles civil disputes.

      • hypochondriac says:

        How hard is it to list a car as in repossession? We just need to start “repossessing” the cars/boats of senators their friend/families we should get a law clearing up the matter soon

  13. donkeydonkeypublicbathroom says:

    She should file charges on both the towing company and Wells Fargo for vehicle theft. She showed them the title!!! Stealing someone’s car and bringing it back later doesn’t clear you of the crime. If that were the case, I’d be borrowing all sorts of consumer goods from Best Buy!

    • dolemite says:

      Yeah…the thing with this and mortgages…it seems to be setting the precedent that a bank can do whatever it wants with your property, whether you own it or not, and they will suffer no criminal consequences.

      • donkeydonkeypublicbathroom says:

        Maybe we, the American People, should start repossessing the cars that belong to the Wells Fargo managers…and their houses…and return them later with an “Oops, sorry.”

      • Murbob says:

        Maybe not criminal, but if I’m on a civil suit jury, the financial suffering the bank is going to experience is going to be considerable. The windfall the victim is going to get will mean they never have to work again.

        A great way to send a message to the corporations.

        • oldwiz65 says:

          The victims do not have anywhere near enough money to fight a civil suit against a huge bank. the bank will simply overwhelm them with high priced lawyers who will manage to “prove” that the victim was negligent and Wells Fargo was not at fault.

          • cluberti says:

            Given a legal case, the clean title (which is on file with the DMV office as well) is what she would want to have in court, along with loan paperwork and payment history proof. That would be enough to prove she paid the loan, as payments, timeframe, and total dollar figure would match the loan paperwork the bank would also have a copy of.

            For reference in most states (including Washington State, maybe all 50?), the lien-holder must sign the title indicating it’s paid when the loan terms are fulfilled, and the DMV will send you a new title with said signature. The DMV duly notes that the lien has been removed and you are now the sole owner of the vehicle, and the signed title is released to the owner via the mail. The story indicates she had a clean title, and the DMV had a copy on record as well, meaning the bank had to have signed off on the title as paid for the DMV to have released a clean title to her and have a copy on file.

            She technically wouldn’t need to hire a lawyer for this, either. The bank would have to find some way to refute the title was valid, that she hadn’t paid off her loan given the payment history and loan paperwork, and that they hadn’t indicated to the DMV that the title was paid and that they in fact didn’t sign it. The woman, assuming she kept these things (and you should as long as you still own the vehicle!), would have the record of her payments to the bank, the loan paperwork showing the payments covering the loan in full, and the signed title that the bank released to her via the DMV.

            At that point, I’m really uncertain how the bank would be able to find a way to prove that she had actually not paid the loan, nor to find a way to refute the bank’s legally-recognized signature on the clean title the DMV released to her that she appears to have. I’m not saying they couldn’t try to argue it, but if you have a clean title from the DMV and the paperwork to back your payment history on the loan behind it, I can’t imagine what evidence a bank could come up with proving that they hadn’t made a mistake. Because something like this in our broken system is a civil case, she also is likely to have the benefit of the doubt, and the bank would have to go a LONG way to prove it wasn’t their negligence (which we now know they couldn’t prove anyway), and she’d win. She wouldn’t need a lawyer, although having one is always a good idea, even in a seeming open-and-shut case. I doubt she’d have a problem finding one to take such a case as this, either, given it’s an obvious win for the client.

  14. crucislancer says:

    Oh, great. I have that to look forward to. I just refinanced my auto loan through Wells Fargo. So, who is going to F it up first? Chase, as they were the previous Lien holders, or Wells Fargo?

    • travel_nut says:

      Chase and WF will both try to repossess your car, and while you’re trying to get that mess sorted out, some overzealous douchebag will tackle you for refusing to show your receipt.

      It’s the Trifecta of Getting Screwed.

  15. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    Wonder if either the bank failed to serve, or if she ignored it, thinking that since she had the title she could ignore it.

  16. oldwiz65 says:

    Why is anyone surprised? Wells Fargo knows that nothing bad will come of it. They can’t be prosecuted since they are a corporation. I can’t imagine why the police would allow it, but it just shows that the police are no longer there to help citizens anymore.

  17. The Wyrm says:

    She should have gotten into her car, closed and locked the door, then called 911 and say she was being kidnapped, and that the guy had a person impersonating a police officer.

  18. RxDude says:

    I don’t know about other states, but in Kansas (where my brother is an attorney) there is such a thing as “criminal deprivation”. Doesn’t matter if you “meant” to steal the item, you deprived the rightful owner of the use of their proptery.

  19. flbas says:

    talking about the cops respecting the law . . .

    Comcast regularly enters my private back yard to “service their equipment”. they basically act like children on a playground – snooping around, leaving trash, and acting rude. they cite something like “easement”, and they think that gives them every right while abolishing my rights.

    the constitution clearly outlines these “easements” in the 5th Amendment, ” nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”. So, comcast is violating a pretty big right, right?

    I called the cops, and report that people were trying to break in (my property is fenced). at the same time, comcast called the cops, and said they had a problem. the police arrived, told me that I didn’t have any rights, and proceeded to open the gate (where are my 4th amendment supporters!)

    So, I can see (from personal experience) that the police do not obey the laws, only company policies.

    • travel_nut says:

      I am not anywhere near a lawyer, but from what I understand they do legally have the right to enter your backyard to service their equipment. The easement portion of your yard does not belong to you, and you are legally required to give them access to it.

      I could be way freakin’ off base here, actually, so someone correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Pax says:

        IANAL either, but: you are not wrong.

        An Easement is written directly into the Deed for the land.

        If someone is citing such an easement, and you don’t believe it’s there … look at the deed. Make sure you get a NEW copy of the deed, from your City or Town government.

        And if it’s nto there? Next time they show up, call the police – and have that recent copy of the deed in hand, to counter the trespassers’ claim of an easement.

        Oh, and, WORD OF WARNING: if you allow someone to make repeated use of your property for something, that can CREATE an easement. For example, if the neighborhood kids always cut across that giant field behind your house, to get to/from their house and the school bus-stop? If you let it go on for long enough, that CREATES an easement for them to do so, along that same path. Forever – even if the property is sold.

      • banndndc says:

        even if they have an easement it is still your property. they just have a right to use it.

    • tomz17 says:

      Pro tip flbas : Your vague understanding of the constitution does not apply to this situation. Since the easement was willingly given up by someone in the past nothing was “taken” for public use (*). In all likelihood, the zoning required that the original owner of the property grant the easement before developing the property, or the easement was granted by the owner at the time the poles were put up. The easement passes with the deed of the property, and it was *your* responsibility to figure out what you were buying before signing on the dotted line!

      Read up on easements… it is almost 99.9999% certain that Comcast is legally right in this situation. It is VERY common for utility companies to have easements to service poles on private property and if you interfere with their work or keep calling the cops you are likely to end up in jail.

      If you want to pursue this matter *FIRST* research the easement situation on your property. In the *HIGHLY* unlikely situation that comcast doesn’t have one, you should contact a lawyer.

      (*) P.S. Some follow-up reading… Eminent Domain… Even if an easement for the property was “taken” for public utility use (unlikely) it still falls squarely into the scope of Eminent Domain. Current case law does not view this as a 5th amendment violation!

  20. catnapped says:

    Hey, where’s our corporate shills to say the woman no doubt deserved it somehow?

  21. KrispyKrink says:

    About 15 years ago a local Bank pulled this crap on a friend of mine. The repo guy, after informed he was trespassing and the car was paid off over 3 years prior, pulled a tire iron on us. The repo guy was shot and killed. The bank was sued and shelled out a lot of money to many parties. I’ll leave it at that.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      This is something like how it would probably end up in Texas… perhaps even in my driveway, if it came to that. The appropriate response to “I have clear title to this car” is not “I have a tire iron!” and given the opportunity, I would shoot someone before I let them steal my car (which has no liens against it.) Since the clip has 11 JHPs in it when I’m not shooting cheaper rounds at paper targets, well, it’s going to be messy.

  22. u1itn0w2day says:

    I can’t believe with all the money and liability at stake that these banks don’t have any checks and balances.

    If nothing else the bank wasted a trip by a repo crew that could’ve actually done a repo that would’ve made money for them. Financial incentives and penalties should be the order of the day. Along with finding out why the cops let the repo fly.

    • cluberti says:

      Why should they if they can get away with this sort of thing without it? Until someone DOES sue and wins a large judgement (and it may take more than one, who knows), why should they spend money when they don’t have to?

  23. classic10 says:

    So, they stole private property and the cops helped? Am I reading right?

  24. LastError says:

    This is interesting. At the point she paid off the lien, the bank no longer had an interest in the vehicle. If she’d wrecked it, it would be on her and any insurance payout would go to her, not the bank.

    Now along comes the bank, at this point a non-party. They take the car. Even if they thought it was theirs to repo, it wasn’t. Even if they got the cops to agree, the car is still not theirs.

    It’s the same as if they repo’d another car they just happened to see on the street, or if a common car thief came along and took it.

    This is theft. The paperwork they had apparently supporting it could be called fraudulent.

    Now, she got the car back and is essentially whole so it would be hard to really sue for big damages. It would be better if the tow lot had trashed the car or something. I mean, really, a 1999 Chrysler LHS? Yikes. And it came back? And it still runs? Yeesh.

    A coworker’s LHS was stolen from work. She was sad at first then happy because the insurance would let her get a better car. Then the police found it with little damage. She was sad again. Oh well.

    • Difdi says:

      Actually, it was felony robbery, not theft. The lawful owner was present, and objecting to the seizure of the car. The police became accomplices to felony robbery; The fact that the police were armed with deadly weapons may well elevate it up to a Class B or Class A felony.

  25. Woodside Park Bob says:

    Whoever did he “repossessing” ought to be charged criminally with car theft.

  26. buckeyegoose says:

    And the title would say DUPLICATE while in this case it said ORIGINAL. Often times when a lien is cancled, they have to take it to whoever handles the titling in your state, and have them stamp it lien cancled. Then they mail you that title, that was issued in your name, but their name was listed as a lienholder. You can then take that and request a new title be issued that no longer shows them a a lienholder and would appear like you paid cash for the car from whoever you purchased it from, but there would be a new title number issued and it would say ORIGINAL. When i paid off my vehicle I did exacty this to advoid years later the bank having a screw up and puling what happened to this lady.

  27. MrEvil says:

    Easiest thing to do, jump in the car with yourself. Legally, the repo man can’t tow with a person in the vehicle and if he tries to forcibly remove you it could be considered assault. Last thing a recovery service wants is their wrecker licence to be pulled.

    Of course in Texas….
    “A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect his property to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime, and he reasonably believes that the property cannot be protected by any other means.” (source: Texas penal code).

    So if showing the clear title to the repoman isn’t enough for him to go away, there are other means to make him go away. Any liens against a vehicle are listed right on the front of a Texas vehicle title and when a lien is released you can get a clean copy of the title or a signature proving release of the lien.

  28. DanKelley98 says:

    I’d like to know why the police didn’t take action. Clearly, someone was stealing an automobile. I guess its once again “corporate exclusion” where the laws of the country do not apply to them.

  29. EverCynicalTHX says:

    She’s lucky she got it back, this happens every day and people usually never see their cars again. Damn those heartless banksters!

  30. sopmodm14 says:

    Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do !

  31. Gulliver says:

    To those who keep screaming bring criminal charges. AGAINST WHO? It won;t change things. You want to hurt a corporation, you sue, fine, and make them pay punitive damages. If you take my car, I do not need you in jail. I want MONEY to reimburse me for it, and I want YOU to suffer financially. I guarantee a couple hundred million dollar fine will get them to fix the issue.

  32. Groanan says:

    Personally I believe we should dissolve repossession companies and make the practice illegal.

    If someone fails to perform a contract (i.e. they promised to give you the car if they default on the loan) then you take them to court, get a judgement against them, and have the local law enforcement handle the repossession (or at least watch over it).

    That way, at least one judge or magistrate has actually looked at the robosigned papers, and if it were this case, the judge would clearly see that the woman owned the car outright.

    This would also give an incentive to the banks to check the paperwork better, because they should not want to go to court ($$$) if they do not have a case because their paperwork is erroneous.

    This would also mean that lenders will be less risky / collateral would be worth less, as to make collateral worthwhile the company giving the loan would have to spend the extra dollar/hour/employee to have some competence.

    We do not allow self help in many areas of the law; I think repossession is a bit too much power to give to people (especially amoral companies that are not founded on serving the public interest).

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      This would drive up the costs too much and 0.9% APR would go the way of the dodo bird.
      I would really like credit to remain cheap but have people be responsible. I believe cheap car loans still have a place.

      Besides, the case load would be so high they would setup special repo courts and we would just be employing a bunch of government employees to robosign too.

  33. FrankReality says:

    This kind of BS will stop only when bankers start going to prison.

    In my state, when the car loan is paid, the bank is REQUIRED to give you a release. You take it to the license registrar with the title and the title and registration are updated to state “no security interests”, which means you own it free and clear.

    But, you aren’t supposed to keep the title in the car. There is a cab card which you can keep in the car, but its not required for passenger cars. The police can radio into the DMV and request the information if necessary.

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      This. (And I usually hate making a “this” comment.)

      Seriously, the entire time I read this, I wondered why the police didn’t request for ownership from the DMV while they were there.

      I may be wrong, but I thought that the police could call dispatch or whoever and that they could contact the DMV to straighten things out.

  34. SilverBlade2k says:

    I would sue anyways..doesn’t matter if she got the car back. Negligence, emotional stress, etc. I’d sue Wells Fargo and the city. 5 million from each. Teach them a lesson.

  35. u1itn0w2day says:

    On one hand the repo crew is probably numbed to alot of the stories they hear. On the other hand you can’t tell me they would not be able to figure out something isn’t right with a particular repo.

    And nobody at Wells Fargo is checking/matching names, accounts and vehicle numbers? This sounds like everybody is rushing this through their system so they can get paid.

  36. TuxedoCartman says:

    Ah, you silly, silly people with your archaic ideas of titles proving property, and the roles of police in protecting us!

    Ask me about the time my ex left and took my car with her (title solely in my name, and she did not have permission to use it.) Because I’d lived with her, police in two states (Texas being one of them) refused to allow me to reclaim my car. In fact, the wonderfully helpful pigs in Austin threatened me with stalking charges for trying to find where it was.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      How does it go- possession is 9/10 of the law

      Too complex to actually learn the law or what actual documents look like in a particular state.

  37. Spanky says:

    When I lived in Seattle, I loved the Get Jesse segment.

    Gald to see that she got the car back, but makes me sad it even happened.

  38. areaman says:

    This reminds me of the time when a wrecking company in Arizona demolished the wrong house.

    They didn’t get a pass from the law because they weren’t a bank.

  39. bellabell says:

    “I’d be more worried about why the police are allowing someone to haul off a car with clearly held title. That’s all but allowing grand theft auto….”

    they were allowed to haul off this woman’s car because we are more interested in protecting the banks than the consumers.

  40. yagisencho says:

    Guess which family will never do business with Wells Fargo ever again? You can’t *buy* this kind of publicity!

  41. LucasM says:

    What the hell were the police doing by allowing Wells Fargo to take her car when she had proof of ownership??? The officers responsible should be fired… they are complicit.

  42. Puddy Tat says:

    My rental fee’s are steep $1000 a day how would you like to pay for that cash, credit or me whopping your @$$?

    CHOOSE!

  43. peebozi says:

    This lady should have a back up vehicle AND 6 months salary in her savings account just in case something like this happened.

    i can tell just from looking at her, like a few other posters on this board, that she’s been doing drugs, getting her nails and hair done, probably has a cellphone, eats, lazes around 8 hours a day sleeping and simply sucks money from my hard earned paycheck.

  44. peebozi says:

    I think WF could learn a thing or two from Verizon…verizon simply adds $1 to 60% of their 40,000,000 customers every month.
    40% call, complain and get their money back.
    40% don’t notice and pay the $1
    20% don’t feel $1 is worth the time and aggravation to fight over it.
    Verizon increases “shareholder value”, as is their sole responsibility, by $4,800,000 every month and hasn’t broken any laws. They do get reprimanded by the FCC every few years and pay $50,000,000 but they’re still way ahead…

    Listen up wells fargo, you could learn a thing or two!

  45. Invader Zim says:

    I would love to hear a story where the bank believes that the car or house is paid off, by mistake. It seems the error is always to the banks benefit.