Archive for 'homeowners'

Thanks to Nick Capra in Vegas for this very informative and interesting report.

Pass the word and share this one

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Hey Mike,

 The attached report is very good.

88 Page Fraud Assignment Report

(Click Above Link to View / Download)
Even more trouble is coming because, Mers conducted some of their fraudulent assignments to avoid recording fees, now local recorders all over the country are going after them as well.
 
Fraudulent recordings are also considered to be a crime committed directly against the state… so a real can of worms.
 
Now, we’ll see, with all of the hard evidence; will the government support the People, or will they find some way to let the criminals off the hook.
 
The more people that are aware of what’s going on, the harder it is for them to continue committing such blatent crimes
 
 
"…justice should not only be done, 
but should manifestly and undoubtedly 
be seen to be done." 
 
Lord Chief Justice Hewart, CJ 
 
God Bless,
Nick
Question: What’s worse than having your house foreclosed upon?
 
Answer: having your house foreclosed upon twice . Unless, of course, you get it back the second time.
 
Homeowners in Massachusetts are now facing "back-to-back foreclosures," due to problems with property titles. When lenders are unable to get title insurance for the property on which they have foreclosed, they are now opting to try the whole process again. In Massachusetts, where the issue has affected at least hundreds, and "possibly thousands," of homeowners, it has become common enough to merit its own name: "re-foreclosure."
 
It sounds pretty awful. But the “re-foreclosure’’ storm clouds may have a silver lining for some homeowners: Sometimes, the banks lose the second time around.
 
From the Boston Globe article:
 
"Zepheniah Taylor lost his Dorchester three-decker to foreclosure two times in 17 months. Now the 59-year-old grandfather has returned home to stay. The scenario, once implausible, is becoming more common in the crazed and fast-changing world of foreclosures."
 
Also of note, homeowners are able to purchase their houses back at "current market value" — which means if the property value has deteriorated, as is often the case in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates, the homeowner may be able to benefit by buying the property back at a cheaper price.
 
In the words of one such beneficiary: "I’m starting over fresh…It feels good. It is a new chance. "
 
But the whole process can be a little unsettling. In the words of Zoe Cronin, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, a group that represents low income people: "They are weirded out…What is this? I got a letter saying I own my house again."
 
At the moment, it is still unclear how many properties and homeowners could be affected by these types of issues in the future.
 
By: Ash Bennington, writer for CNBC
 
For more: http://bit.ly/a7mX5v

 

 
The owner’s policy assures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy’s coverage. 
 
Title Insurance and Why It Is A Must
 
 
"Prior to the invention of title insurance, buyers in real estate transactions bore sole responsibility for ensuring the validity of the land title held by the seller. If the title were later deemed invalid or found to be fraudulent, the buyer lost his investment".
 
 
 
Standardized forms of title insurance exist for owners and lenders. The lender’s policies include a form specifically for construction loans, though this is rarely used today.
 
Owner’s policy
 
The owner’s policy assures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy’s coverage. It also covers losses and damages suffered if the title is unmarketable. The policy also provides coverage for loss if there is no right of access to the land. Although these are the basic coverages, expanded forms of residential owner’s policies exist that cover additional items of loss.
 
The liability limit of the owner’s policy is typically the purchase price paid for the property. As with other types of insurance, coverages can also be added or deleted with an endorsement. There are many forms of standard endorsements to cover a variety of common issues. The premium for the policy may be paid by the seller or buyer as the parties agree; usually there is a custom in a particular state or county on this matter which is reflected in most local real estate contracts. Consumers should inquire about the cost of title insurance before signing a real estate contract which provide that they pay for title charges. A real estate attorney, broker, escrow officer (in the western states), or loan officer can provide detailed information to the consumer as to the price of title search and insurance before the real estate contract is signed. Title insurance coverage lasts as long as the insured retains an interest in the land insured and typically no additional premium is paid after the policy is issued.
 
Lender’s policy
 
This is sometimes called a loan policy and it is issued only to mortgage lenders. Generally speaking, it follows the assignment of the mortgage loan, meaning that the policy benefits the purchaser of the loan if the loan is sold. For this reason, these policies greatly facilitate the sale of mortgages into the secondary market. That market is made up of high volume purchasers such as Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation as well as private institutions.
 
The American Land Title Association ("ALTA") forms are almost universally used in the country though they have been modified in some states. In general, the basic elements of insurance they provide to the lender cover losses from the following matters:
 
The title to the property on which the mortgage is being made is either
  • Not in the mortgage loan borrower,
  • Subject to defects, liens or encumbrances, or
  • Unmarketable.
  • There is no right of access to the land.
  • The lien created by the mortgage:
  • is invalid or unenforceable,
  • is not prior to any other lien existing on the property on the date the policy is written, or
  • is subject to mechanic’s liens under certain circumstances.
  • As with all of the ALTA forms, the policy also covers the cost of defending insured matters against attack.
 
Elements 1 and 2 are important to the lender because they cover its expectations of the title it will receive if it must foreclose its mortgage. Element 3 covers matters that will interfere with its foreclosure.
 
Of course, all of the policies except or exclude certain matters and are subject to various conditions.
 
There are also ALTA mortgage policies covering single or one-to-four family housing mortgages. These cover the elements of loss listed above plus others. Examples of the other coverages are loss from forged releases of the mortgage and loss resulting from encroachments of improvements on adjoining land onto the mortgaged property when the improvements are constructed after the loan is mad
 
 
 
For more: http://bit.ly/bj1GgO

 

 
The FBI report draws attention to one type of fraud that has grown considerably since the bubble burst: borrowers on the brink of foreclosure who hope to avail themselves of financial assistance related to federal stimulus legislation. 
 
October 14, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ — Once the dust had cleared from the recent economic collapse, the media focused a great deal of blame on one group: financial professionals involved in real property transactions who were accused of fudging documents, lying to buyers, falsifying appraisals and other illegal activities. New data from one federal agency reveals a growing interest in investigating all types of mortgage fraud and helping the Department of Justice pursue convictions.
 
The latest annual mortgage fraud report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reveals that the agency has taken a greater interest in crimes involving financing of homes and other real estate. From 2008 to 2009, investigations rose over 70 percent. The stakes are high: two-thirds of pending investigations during 2009 involved losses totaling more than $1 million.
 
When the real estate bubble was swelling at double-digit rates, some industry professionals padded profits by encouraging borrowers to maximize their debt load by entering into unsustainable adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). The FBI report draws attention to one type of fraud that has grown considerably since the bubble burst: borrowers on the brink of foreclosure who hope to avail themselves of financial assistance related to federal stimulus legislation. "Vulnerabilities associated with these and similar programs include the lack of transparency, accountability, oversight and enforcement that predisposes them to fraud and abuse," the FBI stated in its report.
 
The FBI indicated five states with the worst mortgage fraud problems: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Arizona. In light of journalistic investigations revealing that a significant number of ex-criminals had received mortgage licenses, Florida state regulators have responded with a variety of measures to minimize risks, including annual criminal background checks for brokers and lenders.
 
Assembling Straw Buyers for Profit
 
Financial institutions are not the only parties who may be accused of making material misstatements, misrepresentations or omissions during the mortgage application process. One typical scheme perpetrated against banks and other lenders is the use of "straw buyer" scams, which involve using a stand-in to purchase property. Straw buyers can be used to obtain mortgage approval for an otherwise unattractive borrower, or to eliminate a paper trail on fraudulent investments and other scams.
 
One such situation recently investigated by the Tampa office of the FBI involved Mark J. Moncher, an Orlando man who posed out-of-state family members as buyers to channel mortgage funds to his business, Dream Home Management. Moncher was recently sentenced to 57 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as part of a larger mortgage fraud scheme. His cadre of straw buyers all defaulted after obtaining more than $3.7 million in loans from various financial institutions. In addition to several years of incarceration, Moncher must pay nearly $2 million in restitution.
 
As this case reveals, the basic accusation behind a mortgage fraud case can be surprisingly simple: falsifying a borrower’s identity, income, employment, assets or other information can lead a mortgage lender to approve an application that would otherwise be denied. While lenders have become much more wary since the mortgage meltdown, there is still ample room for dishonest hustlers to game the system. At the same time, simple misunderstandings, honest mistakes and creative accounting can lead to baseless accusations of criminal intent and protracted legal struggles.
 
Protecting Your Interests by Avoiding Mortgage Fraud Accusations
 
Criminal allegations can arise at any stage of a real estate transaction. For example, appraisers can be suspected of mortgage fraud on behalf of either the seller or the lender by inflating the value of the property. Lenders or brokers can be accused of changing details in the paperwork, amending contracts after they are signed or failing to disclose pertinent information. Entrepreneurial buyers who quickly fix and sell homes can face allegations of illegal property flipping.
 
Federal and state authorities will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud involving everything from loan origination, builder bailouts, and offshore transactions to equity skimming, short sales, reverse mortgages and loan modifications. But the facts surrounding even the most basic property transaction are complex, and parties who suspect that they may be under investigation should act swiftly to protect their interests and head off a prosecution before it gets off the ground.
 
The FBI, DOJ and other federal and state government agencies have tremendous resources to draw from to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. A defense attorney who has experience in federal white collar criminal cases can assess your situation, explain your rights, represent you in an investigation and defend your rights in the event that federal criminal charges are filed.
 
Article provided by Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
 
For more: http://bit.ly/cuwFpf
 
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 See How Responsible Tax Payers Get Another Door SLAMMED In Their Face

 
Here is some food for thought.
 
There has been a lot of focus on borrowers are behind on payments and those who are facing foreclosure. But what about the responsible borrower who are being responsible living up to their financial obligations?
 
The credit scoring machine has really kicked into high gear and lenders are actually relying on credit scores like never before. 
 
With all of the "Re-Focus" and "tightening up" of lender’s qualifying standards, this has literally slammed the door shut on millions of borrowers who are current on their home loans.
 
Many borrowers who are current have been affected by this screwed up economy. Just imagine all of the variables affecting credit scores. 
 
Combine these variables with lenders having raised the bar (your credit score) to perhaps the highest since they have been lending, and you will see exactly what this involves.
 
Another Door SLAMMED in the face of responsible tax payers struggling to do the right thing.
 
Right now, the interest rates are the lowest on record. 30 year fixed rates at 4% and this is just the ballpark.
 
But what good is it, if you can not qualify for a re-finance, or a purchase?
 
Interesting food for thought.

What Do You Think?
 
 
Please Share Your Comments
 

 

 Mike,

Here is the latest, this is some pretty grim and scary stuff. The following information comes form John Stuart’s blog. If you’re not familiar with John he is a former attorney in Arizona who has been working feverishly, day and night uncovering the bank fraud involved in the mortgage industry.
 
It is almost game over. Whenever we discover their crimes the politicians make it not a crime.
 
It is coming quicker than anyone could have expected.  
 
– Nick Capra, Vegas
 
 
PRESIDENT OBAMA has headed for his desk a bill that would ratify the illegal practices revealed for the past three years on this blog and for the past three weeks and mainstream media. He might just as well issue Robo signed presidential pardons for the thousands of people involved in defrauding homeowners, investors and the entire judicial system. Send him a letter and tell him not to sign it.
 
Under the guise of simply reflecting changes in technology, the bill would force state and federal courts to recognize and accept the notarization from another state. This would be true even if the notary signed in blank.
– It would be true even if the witnesses were not present despite the recitation to the contrary signed by the notary.
– It would be true even if the main person signing the alleged document was not the person named as having signed the alleged document.
– t would be true even if the main person signing the alleged document was not present or identified by the notary.
– In other words under this new bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, both essentially bought and paid for by the financial services industry, all of the illegal, improper and criminal acts performed by the “lenders” (mainstream media insists on using this term even though it is not true) would be made legal.
 
That sounds like a pardon to me, how about you?
 
If Pres. Obama signs this bill it will become law.
 
At that point, more than half of the meritorious defenses of borrowers (homeowners) or petitioners in bankruptcy courts will go down the drain.
 
The fact that this bill even got introduced without the mainstream media taking note is not really surprising considering the fact that mainstream media has failed to grasp the true  scope of this fraud which began with the first sale of a fake mortgage bond to an investor.
 
A fake financial services product was marketed to investors who believed they were lenders and to homeowners who believed they were borrowers, both of whom were mere pawns in the Wall Street game.
 
In fact they supplied the only two ingredients that Wall Street wanted —money from the lenders and a signature from the homeowners. The nature of the document was immaterial.
 
Now that the foreclosures are obviously fake, lawmakers responsive to the demands of the financial services industry have quietly passed a bill in both houses of Congress that would allow the fraud to be ratified and the perpetrators to escape any accountability whatsoever.
 
If Pres. Obama signs this bill he will be condemning the victims of this fraud to bear the full cost of the losses.
 
If Pres. Obama signs this bill he will be awarding the perpetrators of this fraud all of their winnings. In case anybody hasn’t been looking, another development which has been ignored by our mainstream media is that countries around the world are looking for an alternative reserve currency to replace the once almighty US dollar. The reason they are looking is because they no longer have confidence in a system that produced a Wall Street scheme which in essence depreciated the value and viability of currencies and economies all over the world.
 
If Pres. Obama signs this bill he will be giving a signal to the world that the United States will be more vigilant, more sophisticated and much more involved in enforcement of laws, rules and regulations already existing in the marketplace and upon which all investors, lenders, homeowners, borrowers and foreign governments had placed reasonable reliance and suffered to their detriment. The loss of our status as the issuer of the world’s reserve currency will have profound consequences on our nation, our citizens, our businesses, and the prospects for generations of Americans yet unborn.
 

FULL TEXT OF BILL

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Sep 29, 2010 – Enrolled Bill. This is the final text of the bill or resolution as approved by both the Senate and House. This is the latest version of the bill currently available on GovTrack.
H.R.3808
One Hundred Eleventh Congress
of the
United States of America
AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the fifth day of January, two thousand and ten
An Act
To require any Federal or State court to recognize any notarization made by a notary public licensed by a State other than the State where the court is located when such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010’.
SEC. 2. RECOGNITION OF NOTARIZATIONS IN FEDERAL COURTS.
Each Federal court shall recognize any lawful notarization made by a notary public licensed or commissioned under the laws of a State other than the State where the Federal court is located if–
(1) such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce; and
(2)(A) a seal of office, as symbol of the notary public’s authority, is used in the notarization; or
(B) in the case of an electronic record, the seal information is securely attached to, or logically associated with, the electronic record so as to render the record tamper-resistant.
SEC. 3. RECOGNITION OF NOTARIZATIONS IN STATE COURTS.
Each court that operates under the jurisdiction of a State shall recognize any lawful notarization made by a notary public licensed or commissioned under the laws of a State other than the State where the court is located if–
(1) such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce; and
(2)(A) a seal of office, as symbol of the notary public’s authority, is used in the notarization; or
(B) in the case of an electronic record, the seal information is securely attached to, or logically associated with, the electronic record so as to render the record tamper-resistant.
SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) ELECTRONIC RECORD- The term ‘electronic record’ has the meaning given that term in section 106 of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (15 U.S.C. 7006).
(2) LOGICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH- Seal information is ‘logically associated with’ an electronic record if the seal information is securely bound to the electronic record in such a manner as to make it impracticable to falsify or alter, without detection, either the record or the seal information.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
 
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This keeps getting uglier and uglier. I’m not trying to promote "doom and gloom" so don’t shoot the messenger. My objective is to keep  you on top of today’s insane turbulent real estate market.

"He Who Masters The New Rules Firstest, WINS The MOSTEST"

 

 

Foreclosure Furor Rises; Many Call for a Freeze

By DAVID STREITFELD and GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: October 5, 2010
 
The uproar over bad conduct by mortgage lenders intensified Tuesday, as lawmakers in Washington requested a federal investigation and the attorney general in Texas joined a chorus of state law enforcement figures calling for freezes on all foreclosures.
 
Flawed Paperwork Aggravates a Foreclosure Crisis (October 4, 2010)
 
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and 30 other Democratic representatives from California told the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency that “it is time that banks are held accountable for their practices.”
 
In a request for an investigation into questionable foreclosure practices by lenders, the lawmakers said that “the excuses we have heard from financial institutions are simply not credible."
 
Officials from the federal agencies declined to comment.
 
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, sent letters to 30 lenders demanding they stop foreclosures, evictions and the sale of foreclosed properties until they could provide assurances that they were proceeding legally.
 
Both developments indicated that scarcely two weeks after the country’s fourth-biggest lender, GMAC Mortgage, revealed that it was suspending all foreclosures in the 23 states where the process requires judicial approval, concerns about flawed foreclosures had mushroomed into a nationwide problem.
 
Some of the finger-pointing was also being directed back at Congress. The Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, suggested in a telephone interview on Tuesday that a bill passed by Congress last week about notarizations could facilitate foreclosure fraud.
 
Dubious notary practices used by banks to justify foreclosures have come under scrutiny in recent weeks as GMAC and other top lenders suspended homeowner evictions over possible improper procedures.
 
Ms. Brunner, who has recently referred possible cases of notary fraud in her state to federal authorities, worries that the legislation would allow the lowest standard for notaries to become a nationwide practice. She said she also worried that the changes were coming in the middle of a foreclosure storm where people could lose their homes improperly.
 
“A notary’s signature is that of a trusted, impartial third party, whose notarization bolsters the integrity of the document,” Ms. Brunner said. “To take away the safeguards of notarization means foreclosure procedures could be more susceptible to fraud.”
 
As banks’ foreclosure practices have come under the microscope, problems with notarizations on mortgage assignments have emerged. These documents transfer the ownership of the underlying note from one institution to another and are required for foreclosures to proceed.
 
In some cases, the notarizations predated the preparation of the legal documents, suggesting that signatures were not reviewed by a notary. Other notarizations took place in offices far away from where the documents were signed, indicating that the notaries might not have witnessed the signings as the law required.
 
Notary practices vary from state to state and the bill, sponsored by Representative Robert B. Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama, would essentially require that one state’s rules be accepted by others. If one state allows its notaries to sign off on electronic signatures, for example, documents carrying such signatures and notarized by officials in that state would have to be recognized and accepted in any state or federal court.
 
Ms. Brunner pointed out that some states had adopted “electronic notarization” laws that ignored the requirement of a signer’s personal appearance before a notary. “Many of these policies for electronic notarization are driven by technology rather than by principle, and they are dangerous to consumers,” she said.
 
Mr. Aderholt had introduced the bill twice before and both times it passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate. Mr. Aderholt reintroduced the bill last October and it passed the Senate on Sept. 29. It is awaiting President Obama’s signature.
 
Mr. Aderholt’s press secretary, Darrell Jordan, said there was no connection between the timing of the bill and the current notarization problems with foreclosures. In a statement announcing the bill’s passage, Mr. Aderholt said: “This legislation will help businesses around the nation by eliminating the confusion which arises when states refuse to acknowledge the integrity of documents notarized out of state.”
 
Last week, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America joined GMAC in suspending foreclosures in the states where they must be approved by a judge. The judicial states do not include California or Texas. But Mr. Abbott, the Texas attorney general, told lenders in letters dated Oct. 4 that if they used so-called robo-signers — employees who signed thousands of foreclosure affidavits a month, falsely attesting that they had reviewed the material — it would be a violation of Texas law.
 
As a result, he wrote, “the document and therefore the foreclosure sale would have been invalid.”
 
The three lenders who are at the center of the controversy, GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, declined to comment. Other lenders singled out by Mr. Abbott include Wells Fargo, CitiMortgage, HSBC and National City.
 
Meanwhile, shares of a major foreclosure outsourcing company, Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., fell 5 percent on Tuesday, adding to a slide that began last week.
 
The company’s documentation practices are stirring questions, including how the same employee can have wildly varying signatures on mortgage documents. L.P.S. blamed a midlevel manager’s decision to allow employees to sign forms in the name of an authorized employee. It says it has stopped the practice.
 
The United States Attorney’s Office in Tampa began investigating L.P.S. in February. An L.P.S. representative could not be reached Tuesday for comment.
 
Other calls for investigations came from Senators Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.
 
 

 This article from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/business/06mortgage.html

 Racketeering Case Filed Against Ally And Citigroup

POSTED ON OCTOBER 5TH 2010
 
A popular bank and a mortgage servicer are being sued by homeowners in Kentucky for conspiring with a mortgage transfers company for falsely foreclosing on loans. It is a serious allegation and when proven true, then a lot of homeowners who are currently facing foreclosures just might get a chance to save their homes.
 
Homeowners in Kentucky have filed a lawsuit against Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc., alleging that the two have conspired with Reston, Virginia-based Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. in falsely foreclosing on loans.


Filed as a civil-racketeering class action on behalf of the Kentucky homeowners facing foreclosures, the lawsuit claims that banks – via MERS, which handles mortgage transfers among banks – are foreclosing on homes to which they don’t hold titles to properties. The complaint was filed in a federal court in Louisville, Kentucky on the 24th of September.
 
The complaint reads, “Defendants have filed foreclosures throughout the state of Kentucky and the United States of America knowing that they were not the ‘owners’ or beneficiaries of the loan they filed foreclosure upon.”
 
According to the lawsuit, the defendants either filed or caused to be filed mortgages through forged signatures. It also stated that foreclosure actions were filed months before any legal interests are acquired in the properties. Own notes executed with mortgages were also falsely claimed by the defendants, the lawsuit further says.
 
The case also claims that the defendants have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Though originally passed to pursue organized crime, RICO was brought to the case since the attorneys say the cases were well-thought out.
 
The Kentucky homeowners’ case is just one of the multiple cases against several banks and MERS for wrongful foreclosures. Several cases, which were combined in a multi-district litigation in Phoenix, have been dismissed last September 30. The judge allowed the plaintiffs to re-file their complaints, though.
 
In an emailed statement, Ally spokeswoman Gina Proia called the allegations “inflammatory” and without merit. Citigroup Inc. declined to comment, while MERS had no immediate comment.
 
This article originally posited at  http://bit.ly/9IzJOe
 

 How Will This Foreclosure Mess Affect You & Your Business?
(15 min Video)

 


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Another article sent from Roger

 

Flawed Paperwork Aggravates a Foreclosure Crisis

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: October 3, 2010
 
As some of the nation’s largest lenders have conceded that their foreclosure procedures might have been improperly handled, lawsuits have revealed myriad missteps in crucial documents.
 
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
Jennifer Brunner, the secretary of state of Ohio, has highlighted examples of what her office considers possible notary abuse.
The flawed practices that GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have recently begun investigating are so prevalent, lawyers and legal experts say, that additional lenders and loan servicers are likely to halt foreclosure proceedings and may have to reconsider past evictions.
 
Problems emerging in courts across the nation are varied but all involve documents that must be submitted before foreclosures can proceed legally. Homeowners, lawyers and analysts have been citing such problems for the last few years, but it appears to have reached such intensity recently that banks are beginning to re-examine whether all of the foreclosure papers were prepared properly.
 
In some cases, documents have been signed by employees who say they have not verified crucial information like amounts owed by borrowers. Other problems involve questionable legal notarization of documents, in which, for example, the notarizations predate the actual preparation of documents — suggesting that signatures were never actually reviewed by a notary.
 
Other problems occurred when notarizations took place so far from where the documents were signed that it was highly unlikely that the notaries witnessed the signings, as the law requires.
 
On still other important documents, a single official’s name is signed in such radically different ways that some appear to be forgeries. Additional problems have emerged when multiple banks have all argued that they have the right to foreclose on the same property, a result of a murky trail of documentation and ownership.
 
There is no doubt that the enormous increase in foreclosures in recent years has strained the resources of lenders and their legal representatives, creating challenges that any institution might find overwhelming. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the percentage of loans that were delinquent by 90 days or more stood at 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2010, up from 4 percent in the same period of 2008.
 
But analysts say that the wave of defaults still does not excuse lenders’ failures to meet their legal obligations before trying to remove defaulting borrowers from their homes.
 
“It reflects the hubris that as long as the money was going through the pipeline, these companies didn’t really have to make sure the documents were in order,” said Kathleen C. Engel, dean for intellectual life at Suffolk University Law School and an expert in mortgage law. “Suddenly they have a lot at stake, and playing fast and loose is going to be more costly than it was in the past.”
 
Attorneys general in at least six states, including Massachusetts, Iowa, Florida and Illinois, are investigating improper foreclosure practices. Last week, Jennifer Brunner, the secretary of state of Ohio, referred examples of what her office considers possible notary abuse by Chase Home Mortgage to federal prosecutors for investigation.
 
The implications are not yet clear for borrowers who have been evicted from their homes as a result of improper filings. But legal experts say that courts may impose sanctions on lenders or their representatives or may force banks to pay borrowers’ legal costs in these cases.
 
Judges may dismiss the foreclosures altogether, barring lenders from refiling and awarding the home to the borrower. That would create a loss for the lender or investor holding the note underlying the property. Almost certainly, lawyers say, lawsuits on behalf of borrowers will multiply.
 
In Florida, problems with foreclosure cases are especially acute. A recent sample of foreclosure cases in the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida showed that 20 percent of those set for summary judgment involved deficient documents, according to chief judge Lee E. Haworth.
 
“We have sent repeated notices to law firms saying, ‘You are not following the rules, and if you don’t clean up your act, we are going to impose sanctions on you,’ ” Mr. Haworth said in an interview. “They say, ‘We’ll fix it, we’ll fix it, we’ll fix it.’ But they don’t.”
 
As a result, Mr. Haworth said, on Sept. 17, Harry Rapkin, a judge overseeing foreclosures in the district, dismissed 61 foreclosure cases. The plaintiffs can refile but they need to pay new filing fees, Mr. Haworth said.
 
The byzantine mortgage securitization process that helped inflate the housing bubble allowed home loans to change hands so many times before they were eventually pooled and sold to investors that it is now extremely difficult to track exactly which lenders have claims to a home.
 
Many lenders or loan servicers that begin the foreclosure process after a borrower defaults do not produce documentation proving that they have the legal right to foreclosure, known as standing.
 
As a substitute, the banks usually present affidavits attesting to ownership of the note signed by an employee of a legal services firm acting as an agent for the lender or loan servicer. Such affidavits allow foreclosures to proceed, but because they are often dubiously prepared, many questions have arisen about their validity.
 
Although lawyers for troubled borrowers have contended for years that banks in many cases have not properly documented their rights to foreclose, the issue erupted in mid-September when GMAC said it was halting foreclosure proceedings in 23 states because of problems with its legal practices. The move by GMAC followed testimony by an employee who signed affidavits for the lender; he said that he executed 400 of them each day without reading them or verifying that the information in them was correct.
 
JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America followed with similar announcements.
 
But these three large lenders are not the only companies employing people who have failed to verify crucial aspects of a foreclosure case, court documents show.
 
Last May, Herman John Kennerty, a loan administration manager in the default document group of Wells Fargo Mortgage, testified to lawyers representing a troubled borrower that he typically signed 50 to 150 foreclosure documents a day. In that case, in King County Superior Court in Seattle, he also stated that he did not independently verify the information to which he was attesting.
 
Wells Fargo did not respond to requests for comment.
 
In other cases, judges are finding that banks’ claims of standing in a foreclosure case can conflict with other evidence.
 
Last Thursday, Paul F. Isaacs, a judge in Bourbon County Circuit Court in Kentucky, reversed a ruling he had made in August giving Bank of New York Mellon the right to foreclose on a couple’s home. According to court filings, Mr. Isaacs had relied on the bank’s documentation that it said showed it held the note underlying the property in a trust. But after the borrowers supplied evidence indicating that the note may in fact reside in a different trust, the judge reversed himself. The court will revisit the matter soon.
 
Bank of New York said it was reviewing the ruling and could not comment.
 
Another problematic case involves a foreclosure action taken by Deutsche Bank against a borrower in the Bronx in New York. The bank says it has the right to foreclose because the mortgage was assigned to it on Oct. 15, 2009.
 
But according to court filings made by David B. Shaev, a lawyer at Shaev & Fleischman who represents the borrower, the assignment to Deutsche Bank is riddled with problems. First, the company that Deutsche said had assigned it the mortgage, the Sand Canyon Corporation, no longer had any rights to the underlying property when the transfer was supposed to have occurred.
 
Additional questions have arisen over the signature verifying an assignment of the mortgage. Court documents show that Tywanna Thomas, assistant vice president of American Home Mortgage Servicing, assigned the mortgage from Sand Canyon to Deutsche Bank in October 2009. On assignments of mortgages in other cases, Ms. Thomas’s signatures differ so wildly that it appears that three people signed the documents using Ms. Thomas’s name.
 
Given the differences in the signatures, Mr. Shaev filed court papers last July contending that the assignment is a sham, “prepared to create an appearance of a creditor as a real party in interest/standing, when in fact it is likely that the chain of title required in these matters was not performed, lost or both.”
 
Mr. Shaev also asked the judge overseeing the case, Shelley C. Chapman, to order Ms. Thomas to appear to answer questions the lawyer has raised.
 
John Gallagher, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, which is trustee for the securitization that holds the note in this case, said companies servicing mortgage loans engaged the law firms that oversee foreclosure proceedings. “Loan servicers are obligated to adhere to all legal requirements,” he said, “and Deutsche Bank, as trustee, has consistently informed servicers that they are required to execute these actions in a proper and timely manner.”
 
Reached by phone on Saturday, Ms. Thomas declined to comment.
 
The United States Trustee, a unit of the Justice Department, is also weighing in on dubious court documents filed by lenders. Last January, it supported a request by Silvia Nuer, a borrower in foreclosure in the Bronx, for sanctions against JPMorgan Chase.
 
In testimony, a lawyer for Chase conceded that a law firm that had previously represented the bank, the Steven J. Baum firm of Buffalo, had filed inaccurate documents as it sought to take over the property from Ms. Nuer.
 
The Chase lawyer told a judge last January that his predecessors had combed through the chain of title on the property and could not find a proper assignment. The firm found “something didn’t happen that needed to be fixed,” he explained, and then, according to court documents, it prepared inaccurate documents to fill in the gaps.
 
The Baum firm did not return calls to comment.
 
A lawyer for the United States Trustee said that the Nuer case “does not represent an isolated example of misconduct by Chase in the Southern District of New York.”
 
Chase declined to comment.
 
“The servicers have it in their control to get the right documents and do this properly, but it is so much cheaper to run it through a foreclosure mill,” said Linda M. Tirelli, a lawyer in White Plains who represents Ms. Nuer in the case against Chase. “This is not about getting a free house for my client. It’s about a level playing field. If I submitted false documents like this to the court, I’d have my license handed to me.”
 
Link to Article
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/04/business/04mortgage.html
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