A Florida state-court judge, in a rare ruling, said a major national bank perpetrated a “fraud” in a foreclosure lawsuit, raising questions about how banks are attempting to claim homes from borrowers in default.
The ruling, made last month in Pasco County, Fla., comes amid increased scrutiny of foreclosures by the prosecutors and judges in regions hurt by the recession. Judges have said in hearings they are increasingly concerned that banks are attempting to seize properties they don’t own.
Judge Tepper, who ruled on the matter, investigated the documents filed by the lawyer representing U.S bank in 2007 claiming the bank owned the mortgage but found it was impossible for the documents to have been prepared until 2008.
The Judge Tepper wrote in the ruling that “”did not exist at the time of the filing of this action…was subsequently created and… fraudulently backdated, in a purposeful, intentional effort to mislead” and subsequently she dismissed the case.
The Wall Street Journals also reports that U.S Bank has recently withdrawn several other foreclosures that were found to have the same or similar problems.
According to the article judges across the nation have found fraudulent documents being submitted by banks and their representatives which has led to an ongoing criminal probe in Florida.
The report states that the ruling was a backlash against law firms that are running what are know as foreclosure mills across the nation using a cookie cutter process that Judge Tepper calls “fraught with potential for fraud”.
The article mentions an unrelated matter heard last week in which a GMAC tried submitting an affidavit claiming GMAC owned the mortgage but submitted no other proof of ownership.
“I don’t have any confidence that any of the documents the Court’s receiving on these mass foreclosures are valid,” the judge said at the hearing.
Personally I find it ironic that when GM was on its ass it held its hand out to taxpayers for a bailout.
But now that the company is back on its feet again here they are submitting fraudulent documents to kick taxpayers out of their homes.
Zero Hedge points to a similar ruling finding that JPMorgan, Chase and WAMU committed fraud.
The judge in that case discovered that JPMorgan, Chase and WAMU submitted fraudulent documents showing they owned the mortgage in question and thus the had the right to foreclose on the home.
The courts found that the mortgage was really owned by Fannie Mae, a Federal Government institution who also held out its hand for taxpayer bailout money.
Again JPMorgan and Fannie Mae both held out their hands for taxpayer bailout money.
Even worse a behind the scenes shotgun wedding by the Federal Government and JPMorgan ripped off billions of dollars from WAMU bond and stock investors during the 2008 financial crisis.
The Feds basically told investors to bend over when the forced WAMU into JPMorgan ownership and bypassed bankruptcy proceedings that would have allowed creditors access to WAMU assets to recover their investment losses.
An interesting development out of Jean Johnson, Circuit Judge in Duval Country, Florida, where in a case filed by JPMorgan/WaMu, as Plaintiff, and law firm of Shapiro and Fishman, attempted to evict defendants Hank and Marilyn Pocopanni.
As basis for the legal case, WaMu had submitted an assignment of mortgage, which however the court just found never actually belonged to WaMu, and instead was carried on the books of Fannie Mae.
Once this was uncovered is where this case gets really interesting: In point 5 of the filing we read that the “plaintiff predecessor counsel made “clerical errors” when it represented to the Court that the plaintiff was the owner and holder of the note and mortgage rather than the servicer for the owner.”
Which means that only Fannie had the right to foreclose upon the Pocopannis, yet JPM, as servicer, decided to take that liberty itself.
And here the Judge got really angry: “The court finds WAMU, with the assistance of its previous counsel, Shapiro and Fishman, submitted the assignment when [they] knew that only Fannie Mae was entitled to foreclose on the Mortgage, and that WAMU never owned or held the note and Mortgage.”
And, oops, “the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that WAMU, Chase and Shapiro & Fishman committed fraud on this Court” and that these “acts committed by WAMU, Chase and Shapiro amount to a “knowing deception intended to prevent the defendants from discovery essential to defending the claim” and are therefore fraud.
While the Judge in this case did not also find declaratory damages against the plaintiff, and while the case of the defendants is unclear (we would expect Fannie to file a foreclosure act on its own soon enough), the question of just how pervasive this form of “fraud” in the judicial system is certainly relevant.
Because if JPM takes the liberty of foreclosing on mortgages as merely servicer, when it has no legal ground for such an action, who knows how many such cases the legal system is currently clogged up with.
The implications for the REO and foreclosures track for banks could be dire as a result of this ruling, as this could severely impact the ongoing attempt by banks to hide as much excess inventory in their books in the quietest way possible.
Our advice to any party caught in a foreclosure process is to immediately go to www.fnma.com and use the Lookup Tool to see if Fannie is still mortgage owner of record, if a foreclosure suit has been brought up by a plaintiff other than the GSE.
We are confident quite a few other such cases will promptly appear.
by George Washington
The Washington Post notes:
In Georgia, an employee of a document processing company, Linda Green, for years claimed to be executives of Bank of America , Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and dozens of other lenders while signing off on tens of thousands of foreclosure affidavits. In many cases, her signature appeared to be forged by different employees. Green worked for a foreclosure document company owned by Lender Processing Services. The company is being investigated by a U.S. attorney in Florida for allegedly using improper documentation to speed foreclosures. Lenders have already started to withdraw foreclosures that had Green’s name on them. Green also submitted to courts documents that listed “Bogus Assignee” as the owner of a mortgage instead of the real name. In another case, she signed as the vice president of “Bad Bene,” a made-up company. *** “There are procedures to be followed in order to get a foreclosure, and you either get it right or not. Either you’re pregnant or not. There’s no in-between,” [Arthur M. Schack, a Kings County Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn,] said
Foreclosure attorney Lynn Szymoniak located numerous signatures of “Linda Green” from pleadings filed in various courts.
StopForeclosureFraud.com has rounded up some examples of “Linda Green’s” signatures in one image:
Szymoniak pointed out in July:
There are examples of the many different Linda Green signatures/forgeries. Green’s “signature” appears on HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of mortgage assignments – as an officer of at least 20 different banks and mortgage companies.
Doing the Math
The total mortgage loan amount on 500 “Linda Green” Mortgage Assignments is $126,956,912, or approximately $125 million for each 500 Assignments. The average output of Assignments from the Docx office in Alpharetta [Green's actual employer], Georgia in 2009 was 2,000 Assignments per day.
This would be equivalent to (4 x $125 million) or $500 million each day. Assuming that Docx operated 5 days a week for 51 weeks (allowing for holidays), the office was open, producing Assignments, 255 days. It is likely that the Linda Green/Docx crew prepared and filed Mortgage Assignments showing One Hundred Twenty-Seven Billion, Five Hundred Million ($127,500,000,000) in mortgages were Assigned in 2009.
Remember also that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems – which Green repeatedly signed for – is itself a shell company which holds 60% of all American residential mortgages.
Given the above, it is clear why the Florida Attorney General has issued a subpoena to Linda Green’s real employer – DocX – requesting the following documents:
2. Copies of any and all underlying documentation that allows for your employee or ex-employee, Linda Green to sign documents in the following capacities:
a. Vice President of Loan Documentation, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. successor by merger to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc.;
b. Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Inc.;
c. Vice President, American Home Mortgage Servicing as successor-in-interest to Option One Mortgage Corporation;
d. Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for American Brokers Conduit;
e. Vice President & Asst. Secretary, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., as servicer for Ameriquest Mortgage Corporation;
f. Vice President, Option One Mortgage Corporation;
g. Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for HLB Mortgage;
h. Vice President, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc.;
1. Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for Family Lending Services, Inc.;
J. Vice President, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. as Successor -ininterest to Option One Mortgage Corporation;
k. Vice President, Argent Mortgage Company, LLC by Citi Residential Lending, Inc., attorney-in-fact;
1. . Vice President, Sand Canyon Corporation f/kJal Option One Mortgage Corporation;
m. Vice President, Amtrust Funsing (sic) Services, Inc., by American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., as Attorney-in -fact;
n. Vice President, Seattle Mortgage Company.
3. Copies of every document signed in any capacity by Linda Green.
A subsidiary of a company that is a top provider of the documentation used by banks in the foreclosure process in the U.S. is under investigation by federal prosecutors, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The prosecutors are “reviewing the business processes” of the subsidiary of Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS), based in Jacksonville, Fla., according to the company’s annual securities filing released in February. People familiar with the matter say the probe is criminal in nature.
Michelle Kersch, an LPS spokeswoman, said the subsidiary being investigated is Docx LLC. Docx processes and sometimes produces documents needed by banks to prove they own the mortgages.
The case follows on the dismissal of numerous foreclosure cases in which judges across the U.S. have found that the materials banks had submitted to support their claims were wrong. Faulty bank paperwork has been an issue in foreclosure proceedings since the housing crisis took hold a few years ago. It is often difficult to pin down who the real owner of a mortgage is, thanks to the complexity of the mortgage market.
During the housing boom, mortgages were originated by lenders, quickly sold to Wall Street firms that bundled them into debt pools and then sold to investors as securities. The loans were supposed to change hands but the documents and contracts between borrowers and lenders often weren’t altered to show changes in ownership, judges have ruled.
That has made it hard for banks, which act on behalf of mortgage-securities investors in most foreclosure cases, to prove they own the loans in some instances.
LPS has said its software is used by banks to track the majority of U.S. residential mortgages from the time they are originated until the debt is satisfied or a borrower defaults. When a borrower defaults and a bank needs to foreclose, LPS helps process paperwork the bank uses in court.
While the majority of foreclosures go unchallenged, some homeowners have won the right to keep their homes by proving the bank couldn’t show, on paper, that it owned the mortgage.
Some lawyers representing homeowners have claimed that banks routinely file erroneous paperwork showing they have a right to foreclose when they don’t.
Firms that process the paperwork are either “producing so many documents per day that nobody is reviewing anything, even to make sure they have the names right, or you’ve got some massive software problem,” said O. Max Gardner, a consumer-bankruptcy attorney in Shelby N.C., who has defended clients against foreclosure actions.
The wave of foreclosures and housing crisis appears to have helped LPS. According to the annual securities filing, foreclosure-related revenue was $1.1 billion in 2009 compared with $473 million in 2007.
LPS acknowledged problems in its paperwork. In its annual securities filing, in which it disclosed the federal probe, the company said it had found “an error” in how Docx handled notarization of some documents. Docx also has processed documents used in courts that incorrectly claimed an entity called “Bogus Assignee” was the owner of the loan, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
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