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Bank's foreclosure mistake leaves couple's retirement home in ruins

September 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local couple's dreams have been shattered by a foreclosure mistake that left their retirement home in ruins.

When banks take over foreclosed homes, they often try to salvage the contents inside to recoup their losses. But what if they have no right to those contents in the first place? Alvin Tjosaas says that scenario is all too real for him.

Back in 1961, a 14-year-old Tjosaas literally helped his father build a vacation home in Twentynine Palms. He's taken his family there ever since, sharing unforgettable moments.

"I put my whole life into this place, building it for my mom and dad," said Tjosaas.

The house recently had valuables stored in the garage, including decades worth of family heirlooms. But the house was in ruins after Tjosaas says subcontractors hired by Wells Fargo entered the property with a foreclosure notice in hand. The notice had the name Stephen A. Janosik on it, but the address for the Tjosaas family home.

"It's the wrong house, simple as that. It's a big mistake, but sort of a simple mistake," said Tjosaas.

Tjosaas says the subcontractors broke down doors, smashed windows, tore down walls, taking anything of value to sell later on.

He says they took three tractor mowers and three golf carts. Their camper trailer was badly damaged. His wife, Patricia, couldn't believe her eyes.

"We had all of his masonry tools, all of his carpenter tools, all of his plumbing tools, everything that he owned," she said.

Tjosaas said his dad's WWI uniform and flag were also gone. The Tjosaas say they've tried to reach out to Wells Fargo for answers, but to no avail.

"The way it's been going, I don't think they really care. That's the way it's been for the three months. Now, all of a sudden, it's you guys. Now, all of sudden, they call me," said Tjosaas.

After repeated calls from Eyewitness News, Wells Fargo released a statement, saying, "We are deeply sorry for the very personal losses the Tjosaas family suffered as a result of their home being mistakenly secured and entered by an outside party hired to address a different nearby property. We are moving quickly to reach out to the Tjosaas family to resolve this unfortunate situation in an attempt to right this wrong."

Tjosaas says because of the media calls, a Wells Fargo representative asked to meet with him in person on Thursday to apologize. He hired a lawyer, who will be at that meeting. They hope they can reach an agreement and avoid legal action.

The couple and their attorney met with the bank Thursday. The bank offered the couple $260,000. The couple had not yet reached a decision Thursday.


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