Bank of America ordered to pay Fla. couple $1M after alleged loan harassment


A kind of David and Goliath battle plays out as American families are allegedly terrorized by hundreds unrelenting robo-calls round the clock from one of the most powerful banks in the nation, and now there's a victory for those families.

The automated robo-calls to the Coniglio family of suburban Tampa about their overdue mortgage payments came morning, noon and night - 700 times over a four-year period, unrelenting, long after the family begged the bank to stop as they told Tampa TV station WTSP.

"If I did what Bank of America did, I'd probably be behind bars," Joyce Coniglio said.

Furious, the Coniglios sued the giant bank, and now a federal judge has ordered Bank of America to pay them more than a million dollars - $1,500 per call.

"It's the law, $1,500 for every single unwarranted call," said Billy Howard, Morgan and Morgan Consumer Protection Department.

It's a problem across the country. An elderly couple in California claims they got 2,000 calls from Bank of America, 350 to a family in Arkansas, and more than 600 to the phones of Mehran Valiyi of Indiana.

"I would describe it as harassment, it was repetitive calls daily," Valiyi said.

It's not the first time Bank of America has been accused of going over the line. Four years ago, ABC News found they used a collection agency in Texas that used profane, racist pressure tactics.

"I have you scared, you don't want to pick up the phone now? Huh?" one recording said. "Or is it because you are in bed with your sister?"

Bank of America did not stop using the firm until ABC News confronted the bank
president, Brian Moynihan.

"It would not be acceptable. It would not be acceptable to me. I'll find out," Moynihan told ABC.

Consumer lawyers say the abusive language may have stopped, but the repetitive robo calls represent another kind of abuse. Bank of America says only that it is studying the most recent verdict and has no comment.
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