(CBS News) If there was a question about whether we’re headed for a second housing shock, that was settled last week with news that home prices have fallen a sixth consecutive month. Values are nearly back to levels of the Great Recession. One thing weighing on the economy is the huge number of foreclosed houses.
Many are stuck on the market for a reason you wouldn’t expect: banks can’t find the ownership documents.
UPDATE- FEB 10, 2012 - Here is what Register John OBrien had to say
What a sad day in America. I thought for once they would do the right thing and hold these banks accountable . I have been around along time and I can assure you that this is a deal for the banks and by the banks. It will not benefit the homeowner or the taxpayer. What do I tell the 32000 people in my registry who have fraudulent documents call the AG?? They are sending the message that the big guys can do whatever they want and and get away with it. Let us not forget that people who have lost there home with fraudulent documents will be given two thousand dollars and a wish of good luck. How criminal and sad. Principal reductions of 25000 will not solve the housing crisis. Remember that it was these banks who came up with no doc loans,sub prime mortgages and set people up for failure from day one. The taxpayers lost 250 million in recording fees that these banks did not pay. We need a grand jury to investigate the criminal fraud just like Boone County did. Sadly a year from now we will be still faced with the same issues. These banks will continue to do what they want. I am sure that later today they will be sitting in the boardroom patting each other on the back for a job well done. I suspect they will be giving out bonuses to each other in a week or so.I will continue to do my job and not record fraud. I will continue to expose this scheme to anyone who will listen. If they think I am going away they are sadly mistaken. The fight will continue because it is the right thing to do
It’s bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they’re unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren’t there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people – down on their luck – out of their homes.
RECENTLY A MASS FEDERAL JUDGE’S DECISION: It is clear, therefore, that federal thrifts are not subject to Chapter 183C with respect to loans they originate. The calculus changes, however, when a federal thrift does not originate a loan but merely acquires it from a non-federal thrift lender. If a non-federal thrift lender could “cleanse” a predatory loan by selling it to a federal thrift, a vital component of many states’ consumer protection regimes would be undermined
FRAUDULENT MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS BY ROBO SIGNERS
MORTGAGE-BACKED TRUSTS, CLOSED BEFORE 2008,USING MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS SIGNED IN 2011
Aames Mortgage Investment Trusts
Ace Securities Corp. Home Equity Loan Trusts
American Home Mortgage Assets Trusts
American Home Mortgage Investment Trusts
Ameriquest Mortgage Securities, Inc. Trusts
Argent Securities, Inc. Trusts
Banc of America Alternative Loan Trusts
Banc of America Funding Trusts
Bear Stearns Alt-A Trusts
Bear Stearns ARM Trusts
Bear Stearns Asset-Backed Securities Trusts
BNC Mortgage Loan Trusts
Carrington Home Equity Loan Trusts
Carrington Mortgage Loan Trusts
Citigroup Mortgage Loan Trusts
Deutsche Bank Alt-A Securities Inc.
Mortgage Loan Trusts
First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trusts
First NLC Trusts
Fremont Home Loan Trusts
GSAA Home Equity Trusts
GSR Mortgage Loan Trusts
Harborview Mortgage Loan Trusts
HSI Asset Securitization Corp. Trusts
IndyMac IMSC Mortgage Loan Trusts
IndyMac INDX Mortgage Loan Trusts
Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trusts
MASTR Alternative Loan Trusts
MASTR Asset-Backed Securities Trusts
Morgan Stanley Capital I, Inc. Trusts
NatIxis Real Estate Capital Trusts
New Century Home Equity Loan Trusts
New Century Mortgage Loan Trusts
Nomura Home Equity Loan Trusts
NovaStar Home Equity Loan Trusts
NovaStar Mortgage Funding Trusts
Option One Mortgage Loan Trusts
Residential Asset Securitization Trusts
Saxon Asset Securities Trusts
Securitized Asset-Backed Receivables Trusts
Soundview Home Loan Trusts
Structured Asset Investment Loan Trusts
Structured Asset Mort. Investments II Trusts
Structured Asset Mort. Investments II, Inc. Bear Stearns Alt-A Trusts
Wells Fargo Asset Securities Corp. Trusts
SPECIAL THANKS TO Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., FOR THIS LIST.
And what about these stories about the Federal Reserve Selling Loans — including subprime loans that they can’t get much traction on. But what troubles me is that the Federal Reserve is never mentioned as the foreclosing party.
So do they own the loans or not? Based upon published reports, the inescapable conclusion (or at least question of fact in litigation) is whether some or all of the foreclosures are being prosecuting on behalf of entities (trusts) that no longer exist and which are not owed anything because they have been bought out by the Federal Reserve, which in turns probably has no rights to pursue homeowners, and therefore should not be claiming ownership over loans that it has no authority, legal or otherwise, to enforce.
- If the Fed is selling they must think they own them. But the Fed is never mentioned in foreclosures and nobody seems to be arguing in court that the Federal Reserve owns these loans, probably because the Federal Reserve doesn’t make it easy to find out which loans they are claiming to own, and thus which loans they could sell.
- If what they are really selling are the complex derivatives that are often used interchangeable with owning the loans, then they are stuck with the problem of whether those loans actually made it into the REMIC pools, a fact very much in contention in litigation started by both sides of the transaction — borrowers and the original investors.
- If the Fed is saying that they own all of the loans in the pool, that means they bought out the entire REMIC — a consequence of insurance contracts and credit default swaps bailed out by the Fed.
- How many of those pools, bought out by the Fed still exist? Many of the REMICS have filed papers with the SEC stating that they have no further reporting requirements which would imply that they have no assets, income or liabilities.
- Does the Federal Reserve even know what it owns or is it just taking the word of the insurance companies, investment banks and intermediaries as to what was in those packages that were delivered to the Fed for 100 cents on the dollar?
- And who is foreclosing in the name of those pools when the pool investors have been paid off?
- And here is the kicker — if the pool investors were paid off (directly or indirectly) they were paid on contracts that expressly waived the right to subrogation; i.e., they waived the right to pursue homeowners on their mortgage debt.
- If the loans were not transferred into the pools, then these transactions are a sham.
- But they are a sham even if there was a transfer into the pools if the Fed acquired the loans via insurance and CDS contracts that waived subrogation. Remember the Fed bailed out AIG and other insurers so they could make good on insurance policies covering mortgage backed securities.
- They bailed out the investment Banks, not the investors. So if the Federal reserve gave out 100 cents on the dollar for the actual mortgage bonds that would mean that the investment banks were still holding the mortgage bonds for sale when the market collapsed. But that isn’t what happened. The bonds were sold forward, which means that the investors bought the bonds before there were any loans to put in the pool. So if the Federal reserve gave investment banks money, what were they buying?
- It seems more likely that the Federal Reserve was giving the investment banks money to make good on their counterparty liability in credit default swaps, which also have a provision that prevents the counterparty from exercising any right of subrogation or claims against homeowners.
- But if the Federal Reserve was funding insurance contracts and CDS then they didn’t have any ownership interest in the loans, so what are they selling?
- All these things and more raise the questions of fact that should allow homeowners to probe through discovery into the ornate securitization process that looks more and more like a sham itself. but the questions in foreclosure or quiet title look the same — whom did you pay, what did you pay, why did you pay, and when did you pay.
- Follow the money and it will literally take you home. Start with the COMBO Title and Securitization, then the Loan Level Accounting Analysis and then launch into discovery. What you find in discovery may well cast doubt on the origination of the loan transaction, the viability of the note and the viability of the mortgage.
Mortgage Fraud n the past ten years, hundreds of thousands of residential mortgages were bundled together (often in groups of about 5,000 mortgages and other negotiable instruments with an average worth of 1 billion dollars), and investors were offered the opportunity to buy shares of each bundle/certificates. This process is called securitization. Securitization is a structured finance process that distributes risk by aggregating debt instruments in a pool, then issues new securities backed by the pool. The term “Securitization” is derived from the fact that the forms of financial instruments used to obtain funds from the investors are securities. As a portfolio risk backed by amortizing cash flows – and unlike general corporate debt – the credit quality of securitized debt is non-stationary due to changes in volatility that are time-structured dependent. If the transaction is properly structured and the pool performs as expected, the credit risk of all tranches of structured debt improves; if improperly structured, the affected tranches will experience dramatic credit deterioration and loss. All assets can be securitized so long as they are associated with cash flow. Hence, the securities which are the outcome of securitization processes are termed asset-backed securities (ABS). From this perspective, securitization could also be defined as a financial process leading to an issue of an ABS. This is a highly complex process which was developed by Wall Street. Basically, Wall Street figured a way to turn a 30 year mortgage, with small monthly payments, into instant, large sums of cash, which could and was, which was sold before the borrower even signed the Note, then sold or pledged and/or utilized multiple times over.
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) announced on March 11, 2011, that it is taking its foreclosure cases away from the Marshall C. Watson Law Firm. The Watson firm, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was one of the firms most often used by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and mortgage-backed trusts to foreclose in Florida. The Watson Firm came under the scrutiny of the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney General for improper loan documentation and foreclosure practices.I
In over ten thousand Florida foreclosure cases, the Watson firm used mortgage assignments signed by the firm’s own employees to prove that their clients owned the mortgages. In most of these cases, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and mortgage-backed trusts were claiming to own the mortgages. Fannie, Freddie and the trusts lost or never obtained the mortgage assignments needed to prove ownership.
In these cases, two associate lawyers in the Watson firm, Patricia Arango and Caryn Graham, signed the Assignments to the trusts so that the foreclosures could proceed. When Arango and Graham signed these mortgage assignments, they did not disclose that they were lawyers in the Watson Firm. Instead, Arango and Graham signed as officers of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
In the last three years, Arango and Graham signed as officers of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for the following lenders on over 10,000 documents used in Florida foreclosures:
• Aegis Wholesale Corporation;
• America Imperial Mortgage Business, Inc.;
• American Bancorp Mortgage Corp.;
• American Home Mortgage;
• America’s Wholesale Lender;
• BNC Mortgage, Inc.;
• Century 21 Mortgage;
• Countrywide Bank, FSB;
• Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.;
• CTX Mortgage Company, LLC;
• Gateway Funding Diversified Mortgage Services;
• Decision One Mortgage Company, LLC;
• E-Loan, Inc.;
• First Choice Funding Group;
• First Magnus Financial Corporation;
• Flagstar Bank, FSB;
• Greenpoint Mortgage Funding;
• Guaranteed Mortgage Bankers;
• HomeAmerica Mortgage Corp.;
• Interstate Home Loan Center, Inc.;
• Ivanhoe Financial, Inc.;
• KB Home Mortgage Company;
• MFC Mortgage Inc. of FL;
• Quicken Loans, Inc.;
• Suntrust Mortgage, Inc.; and
• Universal American Mortgage Company, LLC.
On the majority of these documents, the date of the alleged transaction is falsely stated. The documents were so poorly prepared that in many cases, the new owner is shown to have acquired the mortgage months and even years AFTER the foreclosure cases were filed by those new mortgage owners.
The Watson Firm was also the law firm that most frequently used mortgage assignments prepared by Docx, LLC. The assignments from Docx, LLC include thousands of documents with forged signatures of Linda Green, Tywanna Thomas and Korell Harp, as well as dozens of documents where the lenders were identified as “Bogus Assignee” and “A Bad Bene.” These Docx-prepared assignments also falsely stated the dates of the alleged transfers, and even the authority of the signers to sign on behalf of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
Despite the well-documented problems with foreclosure cases brought by the Watson Firm, Fannie Mae has not removed the firm from its list of approved law firms. Fannie Mae removed Florida firm Ben-Ezra & Katz in February, 2011, and required the firm to transfer over 15,000 files. Fannie also removed The Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation, Florida. That firm announced that it would stop doing all foreclosure work as of March 31, 2011.
No criminal charges have been filed in any case involving forged or fraudulent loan documents used by banks and mortgage lenders to foreclose.
While courts have been critical of such documents and have added requirements to civil procedure rules so that law firms can be sanctioned for using such documents, no sanction has ever included any criminal charges.
Each such bundle of residential mortgages was given a name, such as
“ABC Home Loan Trust 2006 OPT-2.” The name indicates information
about the particular trust such as the year it was created (2006) and its contents
(with OPT indicating that the loans in that particular trust were originally made
by Option One Mortgage). This precludes the fact that Option One Mortgage was defunct and barred from doing business in the State of California during this time.
Each such bundle/trust has a Cut -Off Date identified in the trust documents
(specifically, in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement). The Cut Off Date is the
date on which all mortgage loans in the trust must be identified. In short, a final
list of all of the mortgages in the bundle is set out. Each trust also has a Closing
Date which is the date that the individual mortgages are transferred to the Trust
Custodian, who must certify that for each mortgage, the custodian has a
Mortgage note endorsed in blank and proof that the ownership of the note has
been transferred. This proof is most often an Assignment of Mortgage. Most
trusts included the following or equivalent language regarding the Assignments:
“Assignments of the Mortgage Loans to the Trustee (or its nominee) will not be
recorded in any jurisdiction, but will be delivered to the Trustee in recordable
form, so that they can be recorded in the event recordation is necessary in
connection with the servicing of a Mortgage Loan.”
Title insurance companies issued policies guaranteeing that the trust had clear
title to the mortgages. The problems are just beginning for the Title Companies, based on the fraud on the court which was committed by and through robo-signing court documents. Clear Title May Not Derive From A Fraud (including a bona fide purchaser for value).
In the case of a fraudulent transaction the law is well settled. Numerous authorities have established the rule that an instrument wholly void, such as an undelivered deed, a forged instrument, or a deed in blank, cannot be made the foundation of a good title, even under the equitable doctrine of bona fide purchase. Consequently, the fact that purchaser acted in good faith in dealing with persons who apparently held legal title, is not in itself sufficient basis for relief.
When widespread defaults occurred, Trustees discovered that the laws regarding
Mortgage Assignments varied significantly from state to state. Many issues
regarding such Assignments were simply unresolved. One of the most significant
issues was whether Mortgage Assignments could be back-dated or have
retroactive effective dates. This issue arose because Trustees and their lawyers
discovered in the foreclosure process that the Assignments could not actually be
located, or that certain states did not allow blank Assignments.
To solve the problem of the missing Assignments, new Assignments were made
and recorded. This was the beginning of the now infamous “Robo-Signing” fiasco. (for a complete list on this issue, see http://takeyourhomeback.com/?p=428 ) Because the question of retroactive Assignments had not been resolved, most of these Assignments did not set forth the actual date that the Assignment took place. The Assignments were signed and notarized as if the transfer took place many years after the actual transfer date.
The Assignments were prepared by specially selected law firms and companies
that specialized in providing “mortgage default services” to banks and mortgage
companies. In jurisdictions with a high rate of mortgage defaults, over 80% of
the filed Mortgage Assignments in the last three years were prepared and filed
In many states, two such Assignments were prepared and filed. The first was
for the particular bank or mortgage company. MERS “controls” approx. 62 million mortgages with a value of over a TRILLION DOLLARS. When MERS authority to file foreclosures and Assignments was challenged in most jurisdictions, with varying results, a non-MERS Assignment was prepared as well.
In all of these cases, the Assignment was prepared to conceal the actual date
that the property was acquired by the Trust. An examination of the Assignments
filed showing the grantee as the Trust – such as “ABC Home Loan Trust
2006 – OPT 2” – shows that most of these Assignments were prepared and filed
in 2008 and 2009, when, in reality, the mortgages and notes were actually
assigned prior to the closing date of the Trust. While the exact closing date can only be determined by looking at the trust documents, any Trust that includes the year in 2006 in its title most likely closed in 2006.
These Specially-Made Assignments have created havoc in the courts. In many
cases, the Specially-made Assignments are dated AFTER the foreclosure action
has been initiated, making it appear that the Trust somehow magically knew
prior to the assignment that it would acquire the defaulting property several
months after the foreclosure action was initiated.
Repeatedly, courts have asked Trustees to explain why they were acquiring non-performing loans and whether such acquisition was a violation of the trustee’s
fiduciary duty to the Trust. No Trustee has ever come forth and explained that
the Trust actually acquired the loan years before the Assignment. As a result,
there are many decisions with observations similar to this observation made by
Judge Arthur M. Schack of Kings County, New York, (see link in http://www.foreclosureself-defense.com/the-library/linksresources/ )in HSBC Bank v. Valentin, 21 Misc. 3d 1124 [A]:
Further, according to plaintiff’s application, the default of Defendants Valentin and Ruiz began with the nonpayment of principal and interest due on January 1, 2007. Yet, four months later, plaintiff HSBC was willing to take an assignment of the instant nonperforming loan. The Court wonders why HSBC would purchase a nonperforming loan, four months in arrears?
Further, the Court requires an explanation from an officer of plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK as to why, in the middle of our national sub-prime mortgage financial crisis, DEUTSCHE BANK would purchase a non-performing loan from INDYMAC… Federal Judge Boyko of Ohio questioned Deutsche Bank extensively with the final outcome being the dismissal of 14 foreclosure cases
In Massachusetts in October, 2009, Land Court Judge Keith Long reaffirmed a
March, 2009, ruling that a lender cannot begin foreclosure proceedings before
the lender has filed and recorded the Assignment, stating:
The blank mortgage assignments they possessed transferred nothing…in Massachusetts, a mortgage is a conveyance of land.
Nothing is conveyed unless and until it is validly conveyed. The
various agreements between the securitization entities stating that
each had a right to an assignment of the mortgage are not themselves an assignment and they are certainly not in recordable form. U.S. Bank National Association v. Ibanez, Massachusetts Land Court Misc. consolidated with two other cases.
Many authors expect the Massachusetts Supreme Court to reverse the Ibanez
decision, but the uncertainty itself, as in the case of the MERS challenges,
caused lenders to flood recording offices with new Assignments.
In cases where the Trust failed to get a valid Assignment, the problem is
complicated by the bankruptcy of the major loan originators, including American
When these big mortgage companies filed for bankruptcy, they did not disclose
the mortgages already sold to the trusts as assets, because the transfers
occurred months and years prior to the bankruptcy filing. Years later, when the
Assignments were required for foreclosures, a bankruptcy court’s permission was
needed to Assign billions of dollars in mortgages. Most likely in fear that a
Bankruptcy Judge would not rubber stamp such a request, no such permission
has ever been sought. In Ohio, Judge Boyko did the complete opposite and dismissed 14 foreclosures WITH PREJUDICE.
Part of Judge Boyko’s Decision:
“There is no doubt every decision made by a financial institution in the foreclosure process is driven by money,” Boyko wrote in a footnote. “And the legal work which flows from winning the financial institution’s favor is highly lucrative.”
“The lenders rush to foreclose on delinquent buyers. But when taking back the properties, they delay recording the deeds, leaving cities to board up empty houses and mow lawns”
The pools, some containing bad loans like the 14 from Deutsche Bank, are bought and sold electronically by Wall Street investment firms, leaving behind little or no paperwork showing who holds the notes.
Boyko ruled that without written proof, Deutsche Bank has no right to foreclose. As part of the ruling, he complained that lenders displayed a condescending attitude that this is the way they always do business and that the court just doesn’t understand the world of high finance. (No it’s called FRAUD, writer’s opinion, not part of decision)
“Finally put to the test, their weak legal arguments compel the court to stop them at the gate,” he wrote.
Boyko’s colleague, Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio, threw out 32 foreclosure cases the same week for the same reason.
The “robo-signing of affidavits and Assignments of Mortgage and all other mortgage foreclosure documents served to cover up the fact that loan servicers cannot demonstrate the facts required to conduct a lawful foreclosure. If it turns out that robo-signers did indeed sign off on loans without review, they committed fraud by claiming knowledge of a financial matter of which they had no personal knowledge. It could also mean that some people are wrongly being evicted from their houses.
From underwriting fraudulent mortgages; to shuffling it through the mortgage securitization chain without following proper legal procedures like the simple act of passing along paperwork; to concealing or doctoring basic facts when securitizing the mortgages and selling them to investors, large lenders and their partners on Wall Street could face hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by being forced to buy back faulty mortgages, some of which have already defaulted, from misled investors.
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