Our dream home

Our dream home
This is what the house looks like from the street, it is only when you get closer that you see how incomplete it is.

I have been told by many people I should write a book about my experience with SunTrust, but for now I will share my story through this blog.

My apologies to all my friends and family, and especially to all the brave deployed heroes that I used to support, for dropping off the face of the earth for the past year. This nightmare has consumed my life and has become a battle to protect my childen's future. I guess the easiest way to do this is to tell my story...

SunTrust Mortgage: Fraud, Lies and Deception…

...And How SunTrust Harmed Our Family

We lived the American dream. We decided to become entrepreneurs and with a lot of hard work and sacrifice, became extremely successful. Our business was acquired after five years in operation by a public company. As a reward to ourselves, we decided to build our dream home.

We signed a construction to permanent loan with SunTrust in May of 2005. SunTrust had our lot and plans appraised, subject to completion, for $2.5 million. We only borrowed $1.6 million. We owned the lot free and clear. We had zero debt, perfect credit scores, and $900,000 in equity. The construction loan was supposed to be for 12 months. The bank had us sign a builder direct disbursement agreement which allowed them to pay the builder directly, thus taking us out of the loan disbursement loop.

It is now almost 5 years later, the house is sitting vacant only 60 – 65% complete, there are over $60,000 in mechanics liens, and all but a few thousand dollars of the construction loan has been given to the builder, Premier Construction, by SunTrust’s loan administrator. When the builder realized there was no more money left in the construction loan, he walked off the project. We have since found out that the bank gave our money freely to this crooked builder and never made him accountable for it.

Our contract with SunTrust stated it would only disperse funds to the builder for completed work. The bank would charge us a fee to send an inspector to verify the completed work. Our original contract allowed for 10 draws to be paid to the builder. The bank funded 26 draws to this builder, often funding draws without an inspection. In addition, we have since found out that the inspector was never given our plans and specs, thus he had no idea of what to inspect, nor was it possible for him to determine if anything was “complete”. There are many items that the inspector reported a 100% completion percentage on, but unfortunately do not match the approved plans and specs. In spite of the inflated completion percentages in the inspection reports, the loan administrator chose to fund even a higher percentage of our construction loan than was warranted. At times the construction loan funds disbursed were nearly 20% higher than the percentage the inspection reports claimed was complete. This “gap” between percentage of work complete and construction loan funds dispersed was present during the entire construction period and the percentage of funds dispersed was always higher than percentage of work complete.

Florida lien laws state that when a lender receives a Notice to Owner from a subcontractor or vendor and the lender pays the contractor directly, the lender is responsible for getting lien releases. We asked our loan administrator many times about this and asked if we could see the lien releases. She told us that she could not fund draws without lien releases, that she was keeping track of them, and for us not to worry about them. We now know she never did this. Most of the time she got partial lien waivers stating the subs got partial payment, but she would pay the builder the full completion amount. This enabled our builder to use our money for other projects, including his own home. If the inspector verified that the work was complete, then the loan administrator should have demanded full lien releases before funding a draw. Instead, she would accept partial lien releases and continue to fund draws for other items and the damage just snowballed.

By not following standard lender procedures concerning the handling of liens, SunTrust set our construction project up for failure from the very beginning. For example: Our contracted allowance for foundation work with the builder was for $120,000. SunTrust funded the builder $140,000 and did not get a full lien release for another 14 months after they paid him. We verified the subcontractor was not paid for over a year after he finished the foundation. SunTrust’s negligence allowed the builder to walk around with our money in his pocket, comingle our funds with his other projects, and ultimately rob us and his other clients blind. During the 14 month period the builder had our $140k and had not been forced to provide a full lien release, SunTrust funded another 7 draws totaling almost $400,000 on our project. With this kind of negligence from the very beginning, the builder was almost encouraged to steal from us. Sadly, even after SunTrust overfunded the foundation by $20k, the foundation is still incomplete to this day! We are missing walls that are clearly evident on our plans that SunTrust has in its possession. See how important it is for the inspector to have plans and specs?

We have shown the bank clear evidence of negligent disbursements including:

  • Multiple instances of funding for deposits—our contract with SunTrust clearly states there will be no funding for deposits, only completed work.

  • Funding a draw based on a letter from the builder that stated our contract price had increased. The letter, on our builder’s letterhead addressed only to the loan administrator, did not have our signature on it and was completely false. This can only be described as blatant fraud, and was described as such by our attorneys in a mediation complaint to SunTrust
  • Funding based on invoices for someone else’s home
  • Funding draws where the builder had let the builder’s risk insurance policy lapse for over a year.
  • Funding draws when the builder had let the building permits expire
  • Funding draws WAY over the completion percentages
  • Funding draws for WAY over our contracted amount with the builder
  • Funding 16 more draws than our contract allowed for
  • Funding draws without getting proper lien releases
  • Funding draws without getting an inspection
  • ETC., ETC., ETC…

We kept asking SunTrust’s loan administrator for help when she would send us a letter informing us, after the fact, that she had given our builder large sums of money. We would tell her that we had signed zero change orders and our builder kept asking for more and more money. In fact our bank contract specifically states that we had to get bank permission if we wanted to make any changes to our original contract. We made NO changes! We went in personally to the branch and discussed our problems with the administration of our loan proceeds with a supervisor and were assured that we would get a new loan administrator. This did not happen. This loan administrator was eventually “let go” and the branch was closed. We started dealing with the main office of SunTrust and a new loan administrator. She sent us our entire loan file, giving us access to the paperwork that we had never seen before. In this paperwork we found out how badly our loan was mishandled and how we ended up in such a terrible predicament. Our money is gone and our home is sitting fallow. Our new loan administrator stated that she would have been fired had she handled our loan in a similar fashion.

We have had sympathetic SunTrust employees tell us that they would get a lawyer to go after SunTrust.

We contacted SunTrust corporate with our evidence almost a year ago. They have done nothing to help us and even requested we get an estimate of how much it would take to finish the home. We had to pay $1,000 to a SunTrust approved builder to furnish the estimate and it was $853,000. Almost a year later that figure will have to be adjusted higher because of the damage that is occurring to the home while it sits vacant. We continued to make our construction loan payments on time, as we always did, up until SunTrust told us to “get a lawyer”. That was the last payment of our construction loan and they have now sent us a bill for the entire amount of the loan due in full. We cannot get a permanent loan because the house is barely over 60% complete.

This whole ordeal has caused us grievous harm. We have gone into serious debt during this whole sordid mess. We have had to incur the extra expense of renting a home for an extra four years while continuing to make our construction loan payments. We have paid about $200,000 in interest on the construction loan without having the benefit of having a home to live in, and we paid interest on items and work we do not have. The builder extorted money from us by threatening us with liens if we did not pay him for “cost overruns”. We demanded invoices from the builder to prove his claims but they were not forthcoming. We could not fire the builder knowing he was already paid large sums of money for incomplete work. We have incurred over $30,000 dollars in attorney’s fees. Our attorneys appeared to be confident that after sending SunTrust a mediation demand outlining our complaint, SunTrust would have to make things right. At one point, SunTrust offered to mediate, but then withdrew their offer. Numerous attorneys have advised us that we have an excellent case against SunTrust, but to litigate would require in excess of $100,000 and would likely take two years at minimum. We are no longer using these attorney's and are currently representing ourselves. Since SunTrust has deeper pockets than my family does, especially since our tax dollars bailed them out, we can only conclude that SunTrust wants to test our resolve, resources and patience and hope we come up short.

SunTrust knows that the longer they drag this out, the more financially devastated we become. We have tried to be reasonable and work with them privately without making this a public matter. We know of at least two other families conned by SunTrust and Premier Construction with almost identical circumstances, all with the same SunTrust loan administrator. In fact, one of the other families provided us with a copy of a letter their attorney sent to SunTrust stating their displeasure with the same loan administrator as us and that Premier Construction had misappropriated their construction funds. They went on to say they no longer wanted SunTrust to fund draws to Premier. This letter was received by SunTrust a year before we found out our funds had been misappropriated as well. So even after being warned that this loan administrator and this builder were not conducting themselves properly, SunTrust continued to fund our project to our detriment. The builder had his operating account with SunTrust so I assume this would have been an easy matter to investigate if they were so inclined.

Another interesting fact to our case is that SunTrust loaned the owner of Premier Construction over $600,000 for a construction loan to build his own personal house and it still shows in the public records as being unsatisfied. The interesting part is that the loan was made in May of 2007 and not one bit of construction has occurred on that lot. The builder owned two lots and proceeded to build himself an 8,000 square foot home on the other lot and got mortgages from other mortgage lenders using cosigners to qualify. It appears in the public record that the builder would probably not qualify on his own given his poor credit history.

If the above mentioned paragraph is not suspicious enough, it gets even better. Our project manager and Premier’s operating manager was a man named Greg Campion. We had no idea as we dealt with Campion that he was a disgraced DEA agent caught stealing confiscated drug money up in Atlanta and was indicted on 17 counts of embezzlement. As he was awaiting sentencing, he worked closely with our SunTrust loan administrator. They both stated they were “dear personal friends” on many occasions. We learned that Campion often met with our loan administrator. Campion was the notary on almost all of our Builder’s Lien Releases documents required each time SunTrust funded a draw. Campion continued functioning as a notary even after pleading guilty to felonies and awaiting incarceration. As best we can determine, Florida does not allow convicted felons to be notaries. Here’s where it gets really interesting: When Campion moved into his home that he purchased with the stolen drug money, the Department of Justice filed a lien for forfeiture on that same property. It was in the public records showing his indictment and the lien for almost a month before SunTrust gave Campion a mortgage on that same home. We will let you decide, but many public officials and attorneys have stated to us that there appears to be collusion between SunTrust’s loan administrator and the builder.

I wrote a letter to SunTrust construction loan vp’s and senior construction loan administrators across the country. These SunTrust employees were soliciting construction loan business on the web. In the letter I outlined just some of the facts of our case. I did not identify the lender that had perpetrated these offenses in order to get truthful answers. The responses I got were unanimous in their overwhelming belief that our lender had harmed us. I even had one loan officer ask me “Who was your lender, scams r us?”

SunTrust has made many changes to their construction-permanent loan program in the last couple of years. These changes are commendable if they were made to prevent the kind of problems that we have endured. I know that when we started this in 2005 SunTrust and their competitors were working very hard to increase their footprint in the Florida market. Perhaps they grew too quickly and did not have the proper resources in place. If that is the case, then SunTrust should continue to make changes, but SunTrust should fix the problems that were already created! They are ruining people’s lives, and in my case, putting my young children’s future financial stability at risk. This I cannot tolerate! SunTrust’s highly paid attorney suggested that we give the house back without receiving any reimbursement for all the money we have already invested in it. When SunTrust stands to gain all of our equity I might call that EQUITY STRIPPING and is the most egregious form of predatory lending I have ever heard of.

Now, in retrospect, I can only draw conclusions as to why this happened to us:

  • The bank was not aware of this errant employee that blatantly disregarded bank protocol. Now that they have become aware of it, they do not want to own up to it because of vicarious liability.

  • This practice was more widespread than just my family and the couple of others that I already know about and the implications of a public scandal would not bode well for investor confidence in this volatile market.

  • The bank knew that in lending to a “golden” customer with impeccable credit, that when the borrower found out that the money was all gone they would just modify their loan for a much higher amount (talk about a low credit risk, the borrower has already been qualified and has a perfect payment history. This borrower would have a huge financial and emotional investment in the property and would willingly increase their loan amount to finish the home incurring additional closing costs as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional interest to the bank). We know of a couple of people that did just that. In fact we had to modify the loan once already for an additional $150,000. If the customer is not willing or able to modify the loan, the bank could take the house back with a tremendous amount of equity. I believe this is called “asset based lending” or “equity stripping”, just on a VERY large scale

My dream home has become an absolute nightmare because of this bank. This is a story that the media has not reported on as of yet. It is a very different side of the housing and economic crisis and one that many might find interesting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stay tuned....

I will be posting more recent pictures of the house shortly. This is a picture of our front door. Nice huh? SunTrust gave the builder 28k for the exterior doors, do you think the inspector missed something?

Notice the stately walkway up to the front door. Uh-oh, there is no walkway up to the door! In fact, there are no walk ways and the driveway is still incomplete. SunTrust paid for a 90% completion level. THEY GAVE OUR BUILDER $18,240 BACK IN 2006 FOR THE DRIVE AND WALKWAYS. The funny thing is that the house was only in the foundation stage at that time and there were ZERO walks and driveways! Our loan administrator originally gave an allowance of 2% for this line item and funded 1.14% back in April of 2006. After paying the builder over 18k, she then later changed the allowance to 1% and showed it to be 90% complete. 90% completion of 1% of the loan comes out to $14,400. Where did the money go?


  1. What jerks!!!!!! I will certainly avoid doing business with then in the future, if that is how their cutomers are treated..........

  2. OK- I stumbled across this blog by sure luck and I am glad that I did.
    First, I did my construction/perm loan through SunTrust as well at the very same time your did yours. During the process I was very involved. I am not quite sure why you weren't more involved with the way your money was disbursed for your home. Everytime the inspector went out and there was a draw released I received a spreadsheet that illustrated very clearly how much money was being released and it very clearly defined what percentage of completness for my home. My question to you "Mrs Victim" is were you tracking this- ultimatley you have to step up to the plate and share in the resoponsibility that this was your home.
    Also, I see that you have the finger stuck right in the face of SunTrust- at what point does the builder hold any responsibility in this or the inspector that fabrocated the inspection reports that were submitted to the bank. These were all third parties to the transaction in my case, yes the bank sent them out but they were not employees of the bank- furthermore it sounds like your builder and your inspector simply lacked integrity, since you chose a builder that basically robbed you- are you pursuing any legal action against him/her. Let me guess, he has gone out of business therefore the only group left with any money you can sue is the bank.
    You mentiomned a mechanics lien agaist your home- why did your builder not pay his sub contractors?? Not the banks fault- that is either your fault or YOUR builders fault. The bank is not responsible for paying your individual bills.
    We have builders who played this system in my area as well. They are systers!!! This person whom you hired asked for this money, took this money, and spent this money else where with zero regard for you and you family. How in the world can you borrower $1.6 million dollars and not manage it along side of the guy you hired to build this home? How could you not see that there was $1.6 million dollars disbursed for this home and only have 60% done?
    In conclusion, this almost sounds like you put your entire faith and confidence in a very shady Builder. SunTrust has a great reputation- I have done a little research on the TARP money you mentioned as well. It appears that SunTrust passed the litmus test our Government gave them, no problem. I would still love to hear what you are doing with your builder situation. Keep in mind that if there are false or fabrocated draw requests submitted to the Bank that is the fault of you and your Builder. You have to check up on these types of guys.
    I know you are looking for some entity to point the finger at and place this blame as any human being would do in your situation. Based on your topic they are multiple palyers in the wrong situation and you are one of them.

  3. "Anonymous" is obviously a shill for SunTrust, attempting to shift the blame away from the bank. Did the builder steal the money from the SunTrust?...or did SunTrust give it to him? If the bank contract says they only pay for completed work, then there is only one answer to the above question if you informed the bank that work was not getting done and to stop paying the builder, irregardless of whether or not the inspector was in collusion with the builder or the loan administrator, or both. Looks like the bank had the builder's interests ahead of yours in this deal or your house would have been completed a long time ago.

  4. Anonymous,
    I am so glad that things went well for you, I would not wish this situation on anyone. I will answer your questions gladly.
    As I said above, the disbursements were given directly to the builder with no input from us, we were told AFTER they were made. We were completely out of the payment loop. We would get a letter after the fact with a draw schedule included. This was not the draw schedule we had signed with our contract and as the loan progressed, the categories and percentages would change completely. It was impossible to follow!
    How do you keep track of a schedule that has categories that appear and dissappear, and percentages allowed that go up and down? Can SunTrust change our originally agreed upon contract at will without our signature or approval?
    We were never privy to the inspection reports although we were charged for them. These reports were ordered by Suntrust to justify a draw, and were kept in the SunTrust file without our ever seeing them. SunTrust funded draws based on inspection reports that clearly showed work either incomplete, or completely nonexistant. They chose the inspector, they ordered the inspections, why did they not give the inspector our plans and specs so he could inspect properly? How could we know that any of this was going on?
    As for your opinion about the builder, we can agree on that one. But I relied on the bank's internal controls including a builders questionairre where the builder had to give references and they did a credit check on him. This credit check is one that an ordinary citizen does not have access to and is only available to businesses. This check is done internally on an annual basis. At what point did SunTrust see the builder was not paying his bills but chose to continue giving him money? We have a copy of a letter sent by another family in our same situation. This letter composed by an attorney informed Suntrust that the builder was misappropriating their funds. At this same time we were calling the bank and voicing our concerns. Why did the bank not inform us that we could control the money? We were clearly told that there was nothing we could do. SunTrust has furnished us with a copy of a document that states that we could have requested a change in writing, but that document was conspicously missing in the loan file given to us. The closing attorney doesnt even have a copy in his file. We had no idea that we had that option. We were actually told by a Suntrust manager that if we tried to take control of the disbursements we would make the builder angry and would never get our house completed. At that point we knew a)the builder had been way overpaid, and b)we would never see that money again and could only hope that the builder would do the work. He WAS still working on the house, albeit very slowly. The bank put us into a position where we could not fire the builder.


  5. continued...
    We ARE going after this builder, but on a criminal basis. We are having his license investigated by the proper authorities as well. The funny thing is that every one of these investigative professionals asks us what we are doing about the bank. They unanimously agree that the bank was liable.
    You ask why the builder did not pay the subs, good question! I had no idea and did not have access to the documents that showed this. Only SunTrust did! Remember, I never had access to my loan file until a year ago. The way you know that a sub was paid is by getting a lien release. FL statutes clearly state that when a lender pays a contractor directly, they are liable for ALL damages caused by not getting these releases. How could I as the borrower even know to get a lien release when I do not even know that a draw is being paid? Again, I was informed after the fact and the damage was already done. For example, I could see that the roof was complete and the bank paid the builder for the roof. I have since found out that the builder did not pay the roof contractor and they have a lien on my house. Before the bank paid the builder for this item, they were required by Florida law to get a lien release. They did not do this and now we have a sub unpaid. If the builder keeps getting paid and is not being made accountable for proof that the work is complete and paid for, who had access to that information? SunTrust did and we did not!
    In conclusion, we relied upon a contract that clearly stated that the bank would only pay for completed work, would not pay for deposits or stored materials, and had a clearly defined and agreed upon draw schedule. They recklessly paid money to a builder without following their own contract. We also put our faith in a reputable large lender who we assumed would manage our money in a responsible manner.
    Again, I am happy that your experience was a good one. Unfortunately, I know of several others who were not as lucky as you. As I have become public with my story, I am finding that there are many others in my same situation and I am contemplating contacting the Federal Reserve board and the Florida Attorney General. I have already informally spoken to an investigator at the Fed Res and they agreed that with us that the bank harmed us.
    Any thoughts on why the bank would fund a draw for a letter stating our contract price had increased without our consenting signature? How about draws paid for invoices showing a different address?

  6. I will agree that this is a mess and I wouldn't wish it on anyone either. In regards to the liens on your home, I had a friend that got into a bind due to the fact his builder went out of business prior to the completion of his house, moreover, he did not pay several of the sub contractors. I am not all to familiar with FL law however, since you had a contract with the General Contractor/Builder and you can proove that you paid the builder the liens are filed in error on your property. Although the work was proformed on you property you can poove that you paid the GC through the draws made to said GC. My friend had an attorney write the sub contractor a letter and indicated that you did pay the GC (included the draw sheet) and to immediately remove siad lien. It took a couple of weeks to get these liens removed however if those liens cause any damages to you, you can than in turn sue that Sub for said damages. These are BS liens and due to the ignorance of the subs they file them on the property and not against the GC. They do not know any different.
    I do hear you loud and clear about the fact the draws were released recklessly- sounds like it. It also sounds like your builder cozied up to someone at the Bank and got his way- good sales person, eh? I would love to see these inspection reports and how they were viewed to release so much money and that home still remain 60% complete. There is absolutley no reason a draw should ever be made from you account for another address.
    When I did my loan I really controlled the way the money was funded. I met with my builder weekly to go over production and when the next draw was going to be made. He never submitted anything to the Bank without my review first. As a matter of fact I was the one that actually faxed or emailed the requests to ensure no fraud- in the end I knew I was the ultimate one responsible for finishing my home for my family and I was the one responsible for paying the loan. I am sure you paid interest on only the disbursed funds- I wanted to pay as little interest during construction as possible.
    I know that it probably sounds like I am pro Bank, however quite the contrary. I am pro ME and after reading your blog I concluded that you sat back and expected everyone to work for you and than when things went horribly wrong you take the "whoa as me" posture. That is garbage- we as individuals are completely responsible for ourselves, period. Your scenario is very unfortunate indeed.
    Just so you know- I am a commercial contractor and I do know a tremendous amount about this topic. I work with these banks and CP admins daily. I feel your pain and wish you the best. You also need to pursue the CP admin as well. That person sounds like another very responsible party for your misfortune.

  7. Commercial Contractor,
    Thank you so much for your insightful input. I really appreciate your interest in my blog and getting your experienced and knowledgeable advice.
    First, let me say I wish I had been just as experienced and knowledgeable as you when this whole process began. We were newbie’s to the construction business and had no experience with the custom home process. We relied upon a lender who had vast experience with these matters and the fact that the builder was on their approved builders list.
    We were VERY involved in the project, often visiting the site bringing the subs lunch and Gatorade. I have often wondered what people do that are building homes from afar and do not have this luxury as is frequently the case here in FL. These people rely on the builder to construct their home, and the bank to make sure the work is paid for. They are expected to pay the construction loan interest.
    SunTrust relied upon your requests for draws in your build; they never consulted us for these requests and in fact, did not heed our warnings, or the warnings of previous customers. Again, the builder made the requests, the bank paid him, and THEN we were told of the disbursement. The bank gave all the control of the build and the money to the builder and themselves. By the time we learned of the disbursement, it was too late. Would you fire your builder knowing he had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money and was promising to do the work? The bank put us into this position.
    I also want to reiterate that we did not learn of the above misdeeds until 4 years into the process. The only parties that had this knowledge were the builder and the bank. As the project progressed, our suspicions grew. Our frantic calls to the bank in reference to the time frame and the builder’s claims that he needed more money were totally ignored. The loan administrator disregarded our concerns. We never signed a change order and all our selections were well within our contracted budget.
    continued below...

  8. Florida Lien law:
    A notice to an owner served on a lender must be in writing, must be served in accordance with s. 713.18, and shall be addressed to the persons designated, if any, and to the place and address designated in the notice of commencement. Any lender who, after receiving a notice provided under this subsection, pays a contractor on behalf of the owner for an improvement shall make proper payments as provided in paragraph (3)(c) as to each such notice received by the lender. The failure of a lender to comply with this paragraph renders the lender liable to the owner for all damages sustained by the owner as a result of that failure. This paragraph does not give any person other than an owner a claim or right of action against a lender for the failure of the lender to comply with this paragraph. Further, this paragraph does not prohibit a lender from disbursing construction funds at any time directly to the owner, in which event the lender has no obligation to make proper payments under this paragraph

    I would assume SunTrust would be knowledgeable about the state laws that they are lending in. The subs do not want to go after me, but they have no other recourse.
    If the bank required full lien releases for work performed and paid for from the very beginning, none of this mess would have occurred. The lack of following FL laws was one of the biggest contributors to this nightmare. When the builder realised he could get money from the bank and not pay the subs, it encouraged him to steal even more. Again, we had no idea this was occuring!

    We are very responsible people and lived up to all our contractual obligations. We made our construction loan payments that included interest for hundreds of thousands of dollars for work that was never done. We even paid this large interest payment after learning of the misdeads because of our sense of obligation. We paid large amounts of interest for a long period of time while all the while having to maintain a separate household and all the expenses of two homes for several years causing us much financial harm. We paid until the last payment when the bank became uncooperative. They have now called the total loan due when they know the home is incomplete. We were responsible enough to try to work with the bank after receiving our file and learning of the errors, but the bank is unwilling to work with us. We told them that we were willing to finish the home and continue to make payments as we originally agreed if they would replace the money they foolishly gave away. The irresponsiblilty lies with SunTrust for not following state laws, breaking their contractual obligations, and now trying to cover it up.

    What are your thoughts on the bank funding draws when the permits had expired, funding draws knowing there was no insurance in place, giving him personal loans for himself and his employees, etc.? Does it sound like the bank was looking out for the best interest of the builder or borrower? Could the builder bring them more business or could I? Remember, SunTrust was very aggressive during this time and I have evidence from bank employees attesting to this fact. Why do you think the bank is not going after this builder or loan administrator? This is their collaterol we are talking about! If a person robs a bank and takes money from a bank branch do you think they call the authorities and go after the thief? If the teller willingly gave the money to the thief, do you think they would investigate the teller? And most importantly, would the depositors of the bank lose their money?

  9. How terrible for you & your family! UN-Trust held the purse strings and did not allow you to stop this from occurring; how could anyone with a brain see it any other way? It sounds like you & your family were put between rock and a hard place.

    I hope you have a really big jack hammer (sharp real estate attorney) to crush the rock (SunTrust) that has you pinned.

    "Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."- Thomas Jefferson

  10. That is absolutely unbelievable. There is no way for you to sue Suntrust?

  11. Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats even if we were the ones that didn't know how to read the map.~Voltaire

  12. OK, so here's another obvious shill for SunTrust misquoting Voltaire and implying that somehow it is Cat's fault that SunTrust mishandled her money. This is the problem with elitists and fat-cat attorneys: they think that by obfuscating, lying, misrepresenting and generally stalling that it makes their wrongdoings go away. Not this time! This thing will go viral and SunTrust will have to own up to their mistakes or be vilified. They won't be able to open up a $50 savings account for a little old lady, or they could do the right thing. I wonder which they will choose?

  13. Mr Commercial Contractor I do agree with you that we all have to take accountabilty for our own actions and maybe Cat and her husband should have could have been on top of things a lot earlier BUT do you really think SunTrust would ever have tried to pull this over on a 'Commercial Contractor'??? I would say NOT! Why? Because like you said you are very Knowledgeable in this area and it sounds like you are a dot your i and cross the t type person which I admire BUT ALL of that being said you are blaming and I won't use the word victim, but the people that keep the banking process and YOU in business and American busisness in business. We have become such a messed up society and the way to fix it is by starting with ones that are be deceitful!!!!! Was Cat deceitful or Suntrust? That is the question and that is where the fault lies. Has Cat and her husband learned a valuable lesson I would say they got the education of a life time and boy did they pay for it! So on to you Mr.Commercial Contractor, I appreciate your wisdom but don't be so pompous and be Thankful you have this knowledge and spread it around because this world definitely needs people with your talent.

  14. Cat, I am so sorry this happened to you. From what I understand, the bank required you to sign papers giving all the control of disbursements to them, and that the contract put all of the responsibility on THEM, not you to see that everything was on the up & up before draws were made.
    As you stated, people living elsewhere build homes in Florida all the time, and do not have to be right there everyday to see that everything is handled properly. The Contractor of course would oversee the building of his home as any contractor would do.(My father was one) They know the ins and outs of the buisness and can spot in an instant when something is wrong. You did not have that the benefit of his experience, and you trusted the Bank like most of us do.
    So, like some have already said, I think these are Sun Trust shields trying to put the blame on you. It's amazing how people just shoot the wounded instead of having compassion. That's like blaming the victim who is beaten up and robbed. Saying, he should have been more careful,and that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,etc. How ridiculous!
    I for one will be praying for you and your family. God Bless,

  15. We at SunTrust recognize that some reading this blog may be wondering if SunTrust is responding. We wanted to indicate that have been in steady communication with the Brooks for some time now. Our policy is to protect the privacy of our clients and refrain from publicly discussing the personal business we have with all of our clients.

  16. I have just read through a synopsis of the account and detail according to the Brooks family. I have also read through the blog comments as such. Whereas there is certainly a feasance" type claim here, (Mal, Non, or Mis), that is certainly something a qualified attorney could take on. Problem is you need a firm that has the financial strength to take on SunTrust.

    Having said that, unless I missed something, why have you not contacted your Circuit's State Attorney's Office? Again not knowing all the facts or documents in the case at hand, I would say at least 5 Florida State Laws have been violated here by both the agent(s) for SunTrust Bank, as well as the Builder Premier Homes, and the "Inspector" Most of these are minimum 3rd Degree Felonies with the most serious as a Second Degree Felony along with the Principals charged as well.

    I think BESIDES civil litigation in this case, is put a few in jail and let them face Felony penalties and defenses etc, and also Sue them as well in Circuit Court for your damages, hardships etc etc etc.

    I wouldnt think that a SunTrust official would really want to take the chance that he or she knew OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that this was going on. I know I would not want to take the chance of going to Jail over the covering of someone elses issues.

    Best thing SunTrust can do in this case is STOP the damages immediately, and FIX this issue.

    Because the funny thing is once one individual gets "thrown under the bus" by getting arrested, ALL will get thrown under the bus.

    Hope it works out for you civilly, but I think you have a better interim solution pursuing a criminal case and THEN the civil side.

  17. We had dealings with some "very prestigious contractors" in Florida as well. They were supposed to get the work done in 18 months. 18 months later they had not yet broken ground. By the time they were finished with the job, which was about as half-assed a piece of cr@p as you can imagine, the bottom of the market had fallen out and the place was worth half what it had been. Construction workers in Florida are, as far as I have experienced, a group you need to watch day after day. We saw Trump build a 25 story tower in New York in the same time Florida people put up a 3 story shell. We also found that the courts are in the Builder's pocket. So good luck, my friends.

  18. Just When I Think I Have It Bad...

  19. Holy crap! I hope you get this resolved soon. This is the kind of stuff that created the support for all those famous bank robbers in the 30's.

  20. Cat, I would also call [in fact haunt] your governor and send the link to your blog and make sure you include the inspector in your suit!

  21. Caveat Emptor or buyer beware. Sounds like you picked a crooked builder. You must get references from other homeowners when choosing a builder. You look at his work. Talk to his customers. See if he's responsible and knowledgable. Talk to the suppliers and subs. If you had made as much effort before you hired your builder as you are making now, you'd be sitting in your new home admiring your tile. Let me ask you this? Were there any change orders on the job? Did you stay in your budget on materials selection? There are always two sides to a story and I'm only hearing yours. Also, lets see more photos of the house, inside and out. If this builder is as shoddy as you say, then the quality of his work will show it. Lets see a photo of the attic rafters and ceiling joist, the basement unfinished areas floor joist and framing mistakes, and mechanical issues. If the builder was shoddy, then why not cut corners in every facet of construction. Did he use a house wrap, did he properly waterproof, did he properly insulate. As for your beef with SunTrust, I say again, cavet emptor. Also, you personify just what is wrong with our country. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Where were you when this house was being built. Why weren't you on top of things. Blame it on Suntrust, but blame it on you even more.

  22. Cry me a river, Sweetheart! You seem like a nice enough person HOWEVER I have to wonder just how you made enough money to consider building a $2.5MM home? Was the money given to you or are you and your husband (can you say wimp?) just that incompetent with money.

    You hired the Contractor to build the house, the bank agreed to lend You and Your husband the money based on the terms of your loan. Now it appears the bank did not do a good job monitoring their loan and collateral (by the way, the Bank does not want to DISBURSE funds on incomplete work anymore than you (if you had monitored the construction progress, Princess!) so maybe they have an employee who didn't do their job, but it's also very clear that a) YOUR Contractor was, at beat, third-rate (probably worse) and that you and your husband are completely irresponsible and should not he allowed to care for small children.

    All that being said, I feel bad for you and hope both you, your husband, the Contractor and the Bank can resolve these problems.

  23. To the last 2 Anonymous commentors:
    I know this blog is long, so I really do not fault you for your obvious lack of standing with your comments. If you read this entire blog, your questions have been addressed and answered.
    Bottom line here: SunTrust agreed contractually to disburse funds for completed work, to order inspections to determine completion levels, to ONLY pay for items completed on OUR project, to not pay for deposits, etc etc etc. They paid the builder directly and only informed us of the disbursements after the fact. The inspections were ordered without our knowledge and the results were never shared with us. These documents were internal documents that SunTrust does not share with the borrowers. As novices to construction we monitored the project almost on a daily basis, but without the internal documents that SunTrust posessed, we had no idea they were paying over and above the ACTUAL completion percentages. We had no idea they were paying this builder for invoices for other projects with our construction funds. We had no idea they were paying for deposits as was strictly prohibited in our contract. We had no idea that SunTrust was violating FL lien laws and were paying draws without making sure the builder was paying the subs and getting lien releases. We had no idea they were paying this builder OUR money every time he asked for it with no justification! When we started to get suspicious and informed the bank something was not right, they continued to disburse our funds in the same exact manner. We had no idea that a year earlier another family had their attorneys give formal notice to SunTrust that this builder had been taking draws and not using them on their project. They were informed that this family was firing the builder and they were filing a complaint that SunTrust had given this builder hundreds of thousands of dollars of their money with no accountabiility. These customers were in the same boat as we ended up being in a year later!
    You talk about personal responsibility? We were diligent in everything we were contractually responsible for. We expect the same diligence from a large lender who not only must be accountable to their borrowers, but now who are accountable to the American taxpayers that bailed them out!

  24. I'm not sure I understand the connection between Suntrust's tarp funds and your bank loan. Were your funds dispersed from the tarp funds? Are you trying to say the American Taxpayer's are getting shafted by Suntrust?
    Also, did you ever ask to see dispersal sheet? Did Suntrust refuse to show you a dispersal sheet? I cannot believe that had you requested a list of dispersal checks drawn by the builder, Suntrust would tell you it's none of your business. Like I said before, you should have known where the money was going and when. Sounds to me like there is one of two answers here. A. There's more to this story that you haven't told us. B. You are really stupid and irresponsible.

    As for Suntrust acceptance of tarp money, give it up. It ain't got nothin to do with your loan.

  25. robbery, plain and simple. to those that are blaming the family here.....wow! i am currently looking for land to build a home on and will certainly stay as far away from suntrust as possible! the fact that changes and unearned payments were made knowingly by the bank is disconcerting to say the very least. as for the TARP $$$, we the people should NEVER have bailed out the private sector.

  26. Mr SunTrust Rep,
    You are sorely mistaken when it comes to TARP. Lets go back to WHY SunTrust needed to be bailed out in the first place. Specifically, did they have sufficient capital reserves to back up their aggressiveness in trying to gain a larger market share? I do not have to go into the accounting games SunTrust has played to circumvent the reserve requirements, it is well documented in public forums. Even if they passed the bogus stress tests, they were ordered to raise 2.2 billion in capital. If SunTrust grew too quickly and made poor business decisions, why should the American taxpayers bail them out? Too big to fail? I do not think so and public opinion is on my side. If I owned a business and conducted myself as the way your bank has (Land America, compensation to Mr. Reed and Mr. Panther, Sarbanes-Oxley filings, the firing of Mrs Jansky to cover up accounting malfeasance, the Foster Farms debacle, alleged securities fraud, etc.) I would be out of business! In true capitalist fashion, my doors would be shut and another business would take over my market share.
    SunTrust remains the largest bank to NOT have paid back the American taxpayers. How do they have the money to pay for expensive legal fees to fight good customers, pay "excessive executive compensation" as recently chastised by Pay Czar Feinberg, pay lobbyists to influence lawmakers in their favor, pay for agressive marketing tactics such as paying for the the elite section of Braves stadium, the list goes on and on.
    The American people (juries), and judges are catching on to the corruption that has been occuring for a long time. The days of "too big to fail" banks railroading good people with political manueverings financed by deep pockets are ending. SunTrust made terrible business decisions and the American taxpayers bailed them out. They SHOULD be held to a higher standard! When the public has asked about TARP repayment, they should have gotten honest answers, not arrogant statements like "we are not providing dollar-in dollar-out tracking" (translation: we took your money twice but it is none of your business).
    All this evidence of corruption and arrogance starts from the top and has EVERYTHING to do with my case. Hence your desperate attempts to have my case dismissed and kept from a jury of our peers to make the ultimate decision of who is right and who is wrong. I am not afraid of a jury, why is SunTrust afraid?

  27. First let me say I am not now, nor have I ever been an employee, director, borrower, customer, depositor or associated in any way with SunTrust Bank. Now with that said, let me ask you again, did you ever ask to see a funds dispersal sheet? If you did, did SunTrust tell you it was none of your business? If you didn't ask to see a dispersal of funds sheet listing the draws and the percent of completion then I ask you again, why the hell not. I would want to know where I stand at all times. You are trying to put blame on everyone but yourself. Like I said in an earlier post, there are two sides to every story and we are only hearing one. I searched the builder on Florida Sec of State Corporations website and they are still in business. What's their status at this point. They look like they're still in business. Are they just refusing to finish the home? Are they Bankrupt? What gives?

  28. I have answered this question already in this same thread, please see my answers above.

  29. I have looked at your answers and at no time did I see you asking SunTrust to let you see the draw sheet. You could have asked them to let you have a copy each time there was a dispersal. Why didn't you? You gotta be pretty dumb not to want to know where you stood on the dispersements. Tell me flat out that Suntrust said you couldn't look at the draw sheet any time you wanted. Say it for the record. SunTrust refused to let me see the draw sheet whenever I requested it. I'm waiting.

  30. Again, let me direct you to my answer found in this very thread. Look at my first two responses where I address the issue of draw schedules. Please look at the fourth and fifth comments in this thread posted from Cat.
    Also look at the seventh comment from Cat and see where I explained that finding out AFTER the fact does you no good, the damage is already done!

  31. Why didn't you stop construction after the draw sheet changed? After the catagories changed. If you had demanded explanations at that point you could have limited the overdraws by the builder or fired the builder early on. You are saying you have no liabiablity here. It's all SunTrust fault. They made you use that builder and took you out of the loop where you could cosign the draw checks. You were cohearsed by the bankers at Suntrust. I'm seeing things more clearly now. I'm still a little fuzzy about why Suntrust taking TARP funds has any bearing on your grievance.

    Most prudent borrowers would want to keep close tabs on funds dispersement and completion percentages. I sure the courts are gonna want to know what you were doing while all this deception went on right under your nose. You could have made daily or weekly visits to the jobsite and noted work done and work in progress. Then looked at the amount dispersed and compared. If you felt something was amiss, stop work immediately and demand an accounting of work done for funds dispersed.

  32. Wow! What a horrible Story! Kudos to you for taking this to the web! I hope it has a happy ending for you and your family!

  33. Everyone is to blame - including the owners. No one has a "not me" cloud above their heads. It's obvious that things should have/could have been done differently, but weren't. Sometimes Life sucks, and because of actions we take or don't take, consequences happen. The contractor was obviously misappropriating funds; the bank wasn't watching closely enough; the owners weren't on top of things demanding proof from the builder; so much could have been done differently but wasn't. Sometimes we learn expensive lessons and this was certainly one. I'm sorry you've had to experience this - and I hope you have a satisfying end to this story, but remember, EVERYONE is to blame. The blame does not fall on just one person or one entity.

  34. Short and to the point, a nice long prison term would be too good for these thieves. The sad part is, they've done this to so many other people and have gotten away w/ it.

  35. Cat...I am a home owner advocate and I too have been screwed by SUNTRUST! My story is so BAZAR that I can not even find another person with my same issue! I am looking for an attorney who knows Suntrust from the INSIDE! My loan was fixed for 7 years and set to roll over into a 23 yr fixed. I followed all the terms of my contract as did you and they refused to roll my loan over per the terms of my Deed of Trust, they refuse to return my calls and never told me why they are in breach of our contract. It is crazy! I did not read your entire blog, but I would love to speak to you and compare notes. I am planning on a breach of contract class action. I can be reached at carepro@live.com.

  36. We're filing breach of contract against SunTrust for helping builder get paid for overbilling / incomplete / unacceptable work. Anyone still checking this blog ? Is there a Tort that applies?, Federal Consumer Agency?

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