Then, last Saturday, the couple received a letter saying Chase foreclosed and the condo was sold online.

Just a few minutes after 9 a.m., on Tuesday Ms. Cervantes and Mr. Bermudez stood before the judge. In broken English, they tried to explain the situation. “There’s nothing I can do about the sale,” Judge Deehl says matter-of-factly. “You’re going to have to deal with the bank.”

They tried calling Chase many times, they said, but couldn’t get anywhere. After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, Chase looked into the matter and discovered they made a mistake. In an email, a Chase spokesman said, “We are working to reverse the sale, and are reaching out to the customer to apologize. We have also been reviewing the application for a permanent modification.”

Excellent.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.