DENMARK, Me. — The house that set off the national furor over faulty foreclosures is blue-gray and weathered. The porch is piled with furniture and knickknacks awaiting the next yard sale. In the driveway is a busted pickup truck. No one who lives there is going anywhere anytime soon.
Nicolle Bradbury bought this house seven years ago for $75,000, a major step up from the trailer she had been living in with her family. But she lost her job and the $474 monthly mortgage payment became difficult, then impossible.
It should have been a routine foreclosure, with Mrs. Bradbury joining the anonymous millions quietly dispossessed since the recession began. But she was savvy enough to contact a nonprofit group, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, where for once in her 38 years, she caught a break.
Her file was pulled, more or less at random, by Thomas A. Cox, a retired lawyer who volunteers at Pine Tree. He happened to know something about foreclosures because when he worked for a bank he did them all the time. Twenty years later, he had switched sides and, he says, was trying to make amends.
Suddenly, there is a frenzy over foreclosures. Every attorney general in the country is participating in an investigation into the flawed paperwork and questionable methods behind many of them. A Senate hearing is scheduled, and federal inquiries have begun. The housing market, which runs on foreclosure sales, is in turmoil. Bank stocks fell on Thursday as analysts tried to gauge the impact on lenders’ bottom lines.
All of this is largely because Mr. Cox realized almost immediately that Mrs. Bradbury’s foreclosure file did not look right. The documents from the lender, GMAC Mortgage, were approved by an employee whose title was “limited signing officer,” an indication to the lawyer that his knowledge of the case was effectively nonexistent.
Mr. Cox eventually won the right to depose the employee, who casually acknowledged that he had prepared 400 foreclosures a day for GMAC and that contrary to his sworn statements, they had not been reviewed by him or anyone else.
In addition to renewing it’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for Entry of Protective Order pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 26 (c). This motion is likewise denied.
Rule 26(c) provides that “for good cause shown” a court may enter a protective order “which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense….” M.R.Civ. P. 26(c). Plaintiff seeks a protective order prohibiting the dissemination of discovery materials obtained in this case.” Plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Protective Order at 7. As grounds for it’s motion, Plaintiff points to the embarrassment GMAC and it’s employees have suffered, and will continue to suffer, from the posting of excerpts from Stephan’s deposition transcript on an Internet blog. The court is not persuaded that the Plaintiff has shown the requisite “ good cause” to justify entry of a protective order in this case. See e.g. Public Citizen v. Liggett Group, Inc., 858 F.2d 775, 789 (1st Cir. 1988) (agreeing with Second Circuit in noting that “the party seeking a protective order has burden of showing that good cause is not shown, the discovery materials in question should not receive judicial protection and therefore would be open to the public for inspection”) (citation omitted).
Stephan’s deposition was taken in advance a legitimate purpose, and the testimony elicited has directed probative value to dispute. Attorney Cox did not himself take action other that to share the deposition transcript with an attorney in Florida. That the testimony reveals corporate practices that GMAC finds embarrassing in not enough to justify issuance of a protective order. Further, Plaintiff has failed to establish that GMAC has been harmed specifically as a result of the dissemination of the June 7, 2010 deposition transcript, given that similarly embarrassing deposition from December 10, 2009 Florida deposition also appears on the Internet, and will remain even were this Court to grant Plaintiff’s motion. Accordingly, because Plaintiff has failed to satisfy it’s burden of persuasion under Rule 26(c), it’s Motion for Entry of Protective Order is denied.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – An outcry over questionable foreclosures by GMAC Mortgage and other lenders is likely to hit some states more than others because of major differences in real estate law across the nation.
But ramifications for federal taxpayers and investors will depend on the costs of clearing up the problem, the latest fallout from the bursting of the U.S. real estate bubble.
GMAC Mortgage announced last week that it had suspended evictions and post-foreclosure closings in 23 states due to concerns over paperwork. In order for a lender to foreclose on a property, it must prove that it actually checked the borrower’s loan agreements, and that the homeowner defaulted.
But the unit of Ally Financial, which is 56.3 percent owned by the U.S. government after a $17 billion bailout, said employees preparing foreclosures had submitted affidavits to judges containing information they did not personally verify.
“It’s a real mess,” said Justice Arthur Schack, a jurist on foreclosure issues who sits on the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
GMAC’s announcement has raised doubts about whether some people lost their homes without good reason. Attorneys general in several states, including California, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, are investigating.
“The law demands that lenders prove their case in foreclosure actions,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said last week.
But Ally characterizes the problem as merely technical, arguing that the underlying facts in each foreclosure are accurate.
“We are confident that the processing errors did not result in any inappropriate foreclosures,” it said in a statement last week.
GMAC landed in its predicament after one of its employees testified in a December 2009 deposition that he signed off on tens of thousands of affidavits containing information he did not verify.
The company said it has “substantially increased” the number of employees to verify documents, provided additional training, and suspended evictions out of an “abundance of caution.”
Ally isn’t the only firm under the microscope.
JPMorgan Chase & Co is delaying its current foreclosure proceedings and has begun to systematically re-examine related documents after discovering that some employees may have signed affidavits in some cases without personally reviewing the files.
Lawyers in Florida are questioning JPMorgan’s practices after discovering one of its executives did not check the details of its claims against a homeowner.
The executive said she had been part of an eight-person team that signs 18,000 documents a
Dear Judge XXXXX, I write you, and the other presiding and administrative judges of the Ohio Courts of Common Pleas, to draw your attention to an issue that may be of interest to you.
As you are aware, when a plaintiff in a foreclosure case moves for default or summary judgment, it will attach an affidavit from the lender or mortgage servicer attesting to the ownership and default status of loan. During the last week, questions have arisen about the validity of the foreclosure affidavits filed by a large servicer, GMAC Mortgage. GMAC (also operating as “Ally Financial”) issued a press release on September 20, 2010 announcing that it had directed certain of its vendors to suspend evictions and REO closings because of “a potential issue that was raised in a number of existing foreclosures challenging the internal procedure we used for executing one or more judicially required forms.”
A number of media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, reported on this statement. The news articles suggest that GMAC’s actions are related to a Florida deposition and a Maine deposition given by one of its employees, Jeffrey Stephan. Mr. Stephan signed thousands of foreclosure affidavits for GMAC, but in his depositions stated that he does not have knowledge of how the information in the affidavit is determined (Deposition of Jeffrey Stephan, June 7, 2010, p 30), does not know how the accuracy of the information is verified (Id.), does not review the exhibits attached to the affidavit (Id., p 54), does not read every paragraph of the affidavit (Id. p 61), and does not have the affidavit notarized in his presence (Id., p 56).
The depositions were not taken by my office, so I do not opine on their accuracy, but I wanted to draw your attention to this issue. At least one court has found that filing affidavits that falsely claim personal knowledge is a violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act when filed in connection with consumer transactions. Midland Funding, LLC v. Brent, 644 F. Supp. 2d 961, 977 (N.D. Ohio, 2009).
More broadly, I urge you as administrators to share this letter with your colleagues and urge them to exercise caution when approving any foreclosure orders involving GMAC. Further, I encourage you to consider whether additional administrative procedures need to be established to protect homeowners who are facing the threat of foreclosure. Issues similar to those surrounding GMAC have arisen in Ohio. For example, my office filed an amicus brief in an appellate case where a foreclosure affidavit averred that it was executed in Florida but the jurat and notarization stated that it was executed in New Jersey. The 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by striking the faulty affidavit. HSBC Bank USA v. Thompson, 2010-Ohio-4158.
Please feel free to contact me or my Consumer Protection Section Chief, Susan Choe, at 614.466.1305, if we can be of any assistance regarding this letter.
Ohio Attorney General
Sarah Lynn, Deputy Chief Counsel, Ohio Attorney General
Susan Choe, Consumer Protection Section Chief, Ohio Attorney General
Chase Home Finance, LLC
Lender Processing Services
Long Beach Mortgage
Washington Mutual Bank
Action Date: September 30, 2010
Location: New York, NY
On September 29, 2010, financial giant JP Morgan Chase announced it was suspending 56,000 foreclosures because its documents may have been “submitted without proper review.” To assist JPMorgan Chase, Fraud Digest suggests that it dismiss those actions where the Affidavits or Mortgage Assignments were signed by the following robo-signers: Beth Cottrell, Whitney Cook, Christina Trowbridge and Stacy Spohn from the Chase Home Finance office in Franklin County, OH; Margaret Dalton and Barbara Hindman from the Jacksonville, FL office of JPMorgan Chase; and any of the Lender Processing Services robo-signers from the Dakota County, MN office including Christina Allen, Liquenda Allotey, Christine Anderson, Alfonzo Greene, Laura Hescott, Bethany Hood, Cecelia Knox, Topako Love, Jodi Sobotta, Eric Tate, Amy Weis and Rick Wilken. In particular, JP Morgan Chase should look at those cases where the bank has supposedly assigned mortgages to WaMu, WMALT, Long Beach Mortgage Company and NovaStar trusts years after the closing dates of these trusts. The number of questionable or fraudulent documents is likely to be much closer to 560,000 than to 56,000, and that will only be a good beginning.
The Florida Constitution and court rules did not give the Chief Justice authority to intercede in pending cases involving attorney misconduct, or to investigate allegations of fraud or misconduct in foreclosure cases. The fraud cases must first beadjudicated in trial courts.
Congressman Grayson has asked the Florida Bar to take action.
Florida Default Law Group has been added as the fourth law firm under investigation along the Law offices of David J. Stern, Shapiro & Fishman and Law Office of Marshall Watson.
Is It Time to File Quiet Title Actions on Foreclosed Homes?
THIS IS NOT Intended to Be Construed or Relied upon as COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE—it is an academic paper discussing various perceptions of evolving potential facts and law, which may differ state by state and within jurisdictions within states. Readers are urged to obtain competent legal representation to review their facts.
In the past, foreclosed homeowners and their attorneys have discussed the utility of filing quiet title actions where homes have been seized and deficiency judgments entered by various foreclosure claimants that purport to unknowingly rely on faulty documentation. There are dangers. A buyer that has acquired a foreclosed home—or the foreclosing entity itself—may bring an action against a dispossessed person seeking redress. A pro se plaintiff or an attorney that represents the wronged homeowner may be subject to sanctions for raising a spurious or improperly supported claim. Today facts appear to put a defense attorney at risk of malpractice if he does not preserve his clients’ interest—even post foreclosure—unless he apprises the client of the opportunity to regain title to the family home. Courts have notice of these defects by reason of withdrawals of support documents—beyond GMAC.
Recent disclosures and admissions by document creation groups, together with widespread newspaper reported facts open avenues to additional discovery and formulation of academic legal opinion. These will open the door for claims to set aside erroneous judgments and/or pursue damages against those servicers, Indenture Trustees and document preparers that either knowingly, negligently, or acted with willful disregard to perpetrate fraud on the courts and the hapless home-owners. Mortgage-backed securities investors may also find an interest in these activities. Failed documentation may disguise outright fraud. Attestations and sworn affidavits serve a fundamental purpose—prevention of fraud. These are not mere technicalities as propounded by some industry apologists. Certainly, homeowners with continuing duties of enforced silence may have opportunity to re-open their settlements in light of these possible fraudulent impositions and inducements.
There are at least two sets of circumstances raised to date whereby potentially void or voidable documents have been used to push homeowners into the streets and into bankruptcy;
Complaints in foreclosure supported by assignments of mortgage from purported representatives of MERS to various entities
Motions for Summary Judgment supported by Affidavits of Claimants—most notably GMAC’s Jeffrey Stephan
On September 23, 2010 the Washington Post added to the furor surrounding the (majority) federal government owned [ALLY] GMAC’s revelations from earlier this week. GMAC used affidavits executed by an employee, Jeffrey Stephan, who admitted in deposition testimony in December 2009 and June 2010, that he did not actually verify the mortgage foreclosure information to which he was testifying in connection with the foreclosures of two families.
In addition, he admitted signing these “affidavits,” and passing them for later notarization in bulk, a violation of proper notary procedure. Mr. Stephan signed off on 10,000 mortgage documents per month according to his June deposition and the Post article. GMAC, in this instance, took the honest and safe course of “temporarily suspending” some foreclosure-related activities in 23 states – as reported by several large newspapers, including the New York Times, Bloomberg and The Washington Post. The “temporary suspension” allows for evaluation of the impacts of this admitted breakdown in the system, rather than blatantly defrauding foreclosure courts in judicial foreclosure states. The New York Times on the 22nd speculated that: [GMAC] “actions suggest concern about potential liability in evicting families and selling houses to which it does not have clear title.” [Emphasis added] The same article notes that; “The lender said it was also reviewing completed foreclosures where the same unnamed procedure might have been used.” [Emphasis Added]. The step referred to in these articles, preparation and filing of an affidavit in support of a Motion for Summary Judgment—along with the Motion itself –occur well into the foreclosure process.
However, there is another critical document created and filed by a claimant with the foreclosure court at the beginning of foreclosure. This document, the Assignment of Mortgage, is supposed to support the claimant’s right or legal “standing” to press the Complaint in Foreclosure. The Complaint is the basis for the foreclosure and creation of a “deficiency judgment” – the amount left owing by the homeowner after the claimant sells the house for less than the amount owed and includes added fees and charges. The claimant uses the deficiency judgment to seize the homeowner assets and future paychecks. In most instances the assignment is the only document before the court that associates the claimant with the borrower. The complaint and supporting assignment frequently surprise and confuse the homeowner by naming an entity or sham “trust” that the homeowner has never heard of before.
The Assignment of Mortgage is significantly more important than the affidavit in support of the Motion for Summary Judgment, if for no other reason sheer numbers. Typically most homeowners have undergone a psychological bruising and beating from the loan servicer by the time the actual Complaint in Foreclosure is filed. Often the family has lost the pay of one, if not both, wage earners and seeks some relief from one of the high cost, predatory loans created 2003-2007. Unfortunately the servicer typically refuses to discuss modification or any relief unless the homeowner has fallen behind in payments. The servicers may rely on terms limiting its authority within the securitization documents in respect of this hard-nose approach.
The hard-nose response gives the servicer cover for actions or abuses that often characterize its subsequent conduct. At that point, the servicer transfers the loan to the default department or outsources to a “default management” operation. This is an aggrandized term for collection agency. The “department” or collection agency often calls the family up to six or more times a day demanding money—rarely the same caller twice. Typically, this will throw the family into confusion and despair. Pleas for relief fall on deaf ears unless the family meets demands to “make up late payments and added fees.” It’s just the beginning of a process that has the effect, if not the purpose, of destroying the family’s morale. The servicer may follow up with notices tacked on the homeowner’s door, a barrage of ominous if not outright threatening letters and other actions aimed at driving the homeowner to abandon the home and neglect a legal defense.
If the homeowner is either naïve enough to believe that the touted voluntary [for servicers] relief programs actually operate, or desperate to keep a roof over the family’s head, the loan modification dance begins. Under the guise of compliance with HAMP, the collection agency demands an array of homeowner financial and employment information. Irrespective of the use that the homeowner desires for that information, it will be of great help to the collection agency to locate assets and paychecks down the road to collect the looming deficiency. But today the information rarely satisfies the servicer in respect of moving towards a modification. The demanded documents are often purportedly “lost” by the servicer, or deemed inadequate—anything to drag out the nightmare and break the family’s spirits. After submitting and resubmitting documents, explanations, and hours on the telephone day after day, week after week, any false hopes that are raised are destroyed by a denial. Homeowners often will be told to try again-with the same results.
After about 3-4 months, perhaps even while the family thinks that a modification is soon to be forthcoming, the ax falls instead. An assignment is “created” and the Complaint is filed. Usually the family gives up without opposition at this point. The servicer may go so far as to place a note on the door offering to further discuss modification leaving a phone number. When the number is called by the confounded homeowner, the servicer representative may explain: “we didn’t really mean that; we just wanted to see if you have left yet!”
In some cases born of desperation, the struggling family may contact an attorney who demands $1000-$5000 just to open the case. The family has 30 days to raise the money to cause someone to simply look at the demands in the Complaint and the Assignment. In the vast majority of cases still remaining, the family gives up now, abandons the property, and no response is ever filed to the Complaint—a default judgment is entered in favor of the claimant. Most often, the family is not even aware that the demands seek more than just the home. That realization may take years to occur—when another collector knocks on the door demanding the long-forgotten deficiency. The process is aimed at breaking the family’s will, at winnowing out the homeowners. The servicer wants the home!
The articles printed prior to Sep 23, 2010 in connection with GMAC’s “unnamed procedure” did not focus upon the issue of potential forgery or related systemic fraud on the courts in connection with preparation of Assignments of Mortgage. By way of background, by reference to numerous anecdotes, it appears that often a claimant in possession of a list of homeowner loans in default provides superficial information to a default services company in respect of the borrower and property. One of the largest default service providers, by its own admission, is two-year old publicly traded Lender Processing Services (“LPS”), a spin-off from FINS. “Approximately 50 percent of all U.S. mortgages by dollar volume are serviced using LPS’ Mortgage Servicing Package (MSP)” The lender, a servicer or Indenture Trustee contracts with LPS for creation and delivery of an Assignment of Mortgage to the requesting entity. (see exhibit at end) This document is often sent directly by LPS through the mail to County Recorders to be file-stamped and recorded in the county property records. These steps lend false authenticity to the piece of paper. By the time the targeted family sees the Complaint and attached Assignment, the assignment has been file-stamped by their local County Recorder, the Clerk of Courts and probably was attached to a subpoena “served” upon them by their County Sherriff. The family is thoroughly intimidated by the Assignment of Mortgage, which has been used to convert the family’s local authorities into apparent agents and enforcers of the distant claimant. The assignment is a powerful weapon in the war of intimidation.
The Washington Post, September 23, 2010, correlated the GMAC admitted breakdown in verification of loan files and notarization process with the assignment creation process operated by LPS. LPS’ document creation division in Alpharetta, Georgia operating under LPS’ DOCX trademark, churned out thousands of assignments. The Post identified one prolific signatory, Linda Green. The article set out in its body several examples of Ms. Green’s signature—which differ dramatically one to another. The Post stated the likely observation that the signatures were made by other LPS employees in addition to Ms Green. She is but one example at one LPS office: there are others with similar handiwork including Tywanna Thomas and Korrel Harp at that office. Mr. Harp has the added dubious distinction of having been jailed for and plead guilty to “Knowingly Possessing False Identification” relating to an arrest in Oklahoma in 2008. At the age of 24, Mr. Harp was signing as Vice-President of Mortgage Electronic Services Inc., aka MERS. MERS has been nominal owner of 65 million home mortgages—and receives mortgage title to 60% of all new mortgages.
As a VP of MERS the 24 year-old Harp, like Ms. Green and Thomas, purportedly possessed the power to transfer mortgages with questionable oversight to LPS’ clients—perhaps others? Based on the signatures of Harp, Green, Thomas— and other varied, yet purportedly notarized signatures, Courts across the country have foreclosed on homes and granted deficiency judgments. One of the in house LPS notaries was only 18 years old at the time she notarized signature for Harp, Thomas and others at DOCX. Michelle Kersch, a senior vice president for Lender Processing Services, made limited explanations by email in the Post article but did not elaborate “due to the pending criminal investigation”.
Like GMACs Stephan, LPS’ stamp and sign department was a high volume operation. Powers of attorney were not consistently attached to the crucial assignments—if at all.
In the case of Linda Green, there was no power of attorney to represent MERS on an original “assignment of mortgage dated October 17, 2008 and filed on October 13, 2009”. This technicality was disclosed in a corrective filing of assignment by Florida foreclosure firm Shapiro and Fishman dated August 11, 2010 in Lee County, Florida in support of a foreclosure by servicer AHMSI. The POA status of other prolific signers such as Harp seems equally uncertain—but as Harp has emphatically stated “I’m sure everything is legal.” There seems to be little observable difference between the conduct of GMAC’s Stephan and the LPS’ high volume signers—but for the possible failure of the LPS signers to have representative capacity to sign at all.
LPS has also made admissions that GMAC seems to echo in terms of problematic “processes”. In the company’s 2009 Annual Report on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, published in March 2010, under “regulatory matters”–“Recently, during an internal review of the business processes used by our document solutions subsidiary, we identified a business process that caused an error in the notarization of certain documents, some of which were used in foreclosure proceedings in various jurisdictions around the country.”
Subsequently, April 3, 2010, the Wall St. Journal published an article regarding the issues with LPS and notary deficiencies; “US Probes Foreclosure-Data Provider”. Foreclosure activists in Florida did not let the admission pass. These persons identified and brought to light signed and notarized Assignments that actually conveyed mortgages to named entities, “Bogus Assignee” and “Bad Bene”. These clearly established undeniable proof that LPS’ internal controls were compromised and virtually any name could be inserted as a claimant in a foreclosure action.
LPS’ CEO Jeffrey Carbiener authored a Letter to the Editor of the Florida Times-Union responding to an article published May 14, 2010 referring to “bad bene” and “bogus assignee”. In his open letter admissions in the press Carbiener asserted that the bogus names were “placeholders” put in the signed and notarized assignment documents “…until the missing information [claimant name] was provided…” Carbiener noted that the forms, as well as the data inserted, were based on instructions from clients with the “placeholders” used until more data is provided. This amounts to a Nuremberg Defense.
The Carbiener comments attempt to place the onus of error in naming mortgage claimants on his clients—but for the obvious so-called placeholders. However, Carbiener’s comments have great significance beyond LPS role. This explanation is an admission that assignments were prepared in blank based on client information. According to Carbiener, it would appear thatthe named claimant was subsequently determined by the client and inserted. This process allows substantial opportunity for abuse, suggesting that a servicer determined that a loan was in default, and then someone engaged in a separate process to identify a claimant to whom the proceeds of foreclosure would be awarded.
The difficulties, or opportunities, for a servicer and his client Indenture Trustees to shift the benefits among potential investor beneficiaries are more apparent when one reviews the SEC filings of now bankrupt mortgage note originators such as American Home Mortgage group (“AHM”) and Option One.
Both originated loans that were supposedly stuffed into trusts. On paper the trusts supposedlyissued mortgage-backed securities to trusting investors. However, purported trust-sponsors AHM and Option One and the Indenture Trustees were at best haphazard in meeting basic commitments and representations that were plainly stated in the securitization documents they themselves filed. The trust documents clearly state that the lists of loans included in the trusts were filed with the SEC and the appropriate Secretary of State (UCC). The securitization documents provided detailed descriptions of the information to be included in the filed list. This information was sufficient that a homeowner could determine if the trust owned his/her loan and was the proper party to receive his payments. Investors in the trust MBS could look to the list to determine the principal amount of the loans that “backed” the investment, as well as loan to value ratios and other relevant information that would indicate the value of the loans—and provide information adequate to determine if the same loan was placed in multiple trusts. However, for AHM, 7 of the 12 investment trusts filed with SEC lacked the lists. The schedule stated, “manually filed”, but the manual filing was not made in many instances. The actual manual filings made are identified on the SEC dockets for the trusts as “SE” for “scanned exhibit.” Under the “SE” docket entry, the list would be found in specificity. One such example of a trust with a proper loan list was American Home Mortgage Investment Trust 2005-2.
In motion practice in connection with a homeowner’s motion to dismiss a naked claim by one of Korrel Harp’s or Linda Green’s appointed mortgage assignment beneficiary trusts, one could note that the trust lacked a loan list and ownership of the loan could not be independently verified by reference to government records as intended. In so doing, it was possible to refer the court to the properly filed loan lists to note the clear distinction and value of the list. It was possible to prove that the lists were not intentionally missing due to some overriding concern for homeowner privacy—a common speculation. It was also useful to prove that missing loan lists were not customary “industry practice”. The filed list was a government record freely accessible to the public online. That changed between July 21, 2010 and September 02, 2010. Loan lists that had been on file and available for investors and homeowners to view online on the SE site were unceremoniously deleted. The lists are no longer freely accessible. A demand is now necessary under Freedom of Information Act—the proper loan lists can no longer be referenced in motions to dismiss. The effect was equivalent to, if not the same as, intentional destruction of evidence by the SEC. It is of interest that on the same day as the Washington Post detailed the LPS similarity to GMAC in terms of uncertain document authenticity, the WSJ also ran a front-page article detailing questionable actions taken in recent months by SEC. Washington Post, September 22, 2010, SEC Blasted on Goldman.
In summary, SEC failed to require actual filing of loan lists by the trust sponsors and the Indenture Trustees. This failing has lead to LPS and GMAC transfers of claims to unverifiable beneficiaries. This the Times suggests, creates a cloud on the title of the new home buyers of foreclosed properties. Then to complete the injury and remove opportunity for homeowners to defend unsupported claims, SEC destroys evidence that could be useful to homeowners being foreclosed and investors seeking to prove fraud. The mortgage fiasco has roots in SEC failure to regulate and its continuation and concealment of potential fraud is an abuse of discretion by SEC, which is supposed to support disclosure of information—not hide it.
Excerpted from: DOCX eAssignTM brochure (no longer found online)
eAssign utilizes theindustry’s most robust property recordsdatabase and data capture capabilities tosignificantly reducetimelines and costs for lienholders when creating(emphasis added)and recording lienassignment documents.
Ally’s GMAC unit withdraws foreclosure affidavits signed by second employee
By Ariana Eunjung Cha | September 25, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
Was Kristine Wilson another “robo-signer”?
Attorneys for homeowners in Florida say Ally Financial’s GMAC mortgage unit has begun to withdraw affidavits submitted in support of foreclosures that were signed by a second employee. Like Jeffrey Stephan–the document processor who admitted in sworn testimony that he signed 10,000 documents a month without reviewing them–Kristine Wilson signed as a “limited signing officer” for GMAC.
In a request to withdraw an affidavit listing debts owed by a homeowner that was signed by Wilson in a Palm Beach County Circuit Court case, lawyers for GMAC say that “information in the affidavit may not have been properly verified.”
Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — Attorneys general in three U.S. states are investigating foreclosures at Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit after the lender said it would halt some evictions following a discovery of faulty documentation.
Texas, Iowa and Illinois have started investigations into mortgage practices at Ally, while California, which isn’t affected by GMAC’s action, ordered the company to stop foreclosures unless it can prove compliance with state law, according to statements. Ally said it has issued a “more robust policy” on processing foreclosures, increased staff to handle documents and instituted more training for employees.
“Preserving the integrity of the foreclosure process is of the utmost importance,” Ally said yesterday in a statement. “While we are exercising an abundance of caution in the review process, we are confident that the processing errors did not result in any inappropriate foreclosures.”
Continue reading…BUSINESS WEEK
September 24, 2010
ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN DEMANDS MEETING WITH
MORTGAGE LENDER AT CENTER OF FORECLOSURE CONTROVERSY
GMAC Suspected of Submitting False Documents in Foreclosure Cases
Chicago Attorney General Lisa Madigan today issued a letter to the mortgage lender Ally (formerly GMAC) demanding a meeting to address concerns that the company has violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act in its pursuit of Illinois homeowners in foreclosure. Madigan’s letter responds to reports raising serious questions about the accuracy of documents the lender files in foreclosure lawsuits.
An Ally employee testified in a Florida court case that he routinely signed affidavits for foreclosure lawsuits and submitted them to Ally’s attorneys without reviewing the homeowners’ loan documents. These affidavits were then filed with the court as evidence of Ally’s right to foreclose on the homes. The employee testified that he signed at least 10,000 affidavits a month without reviewing the underlying paperwork, and thus had no way of knowing whether the information in the affidavits was actually true.
“Families’ homes are at stake here,” Madigan said. “If I determine that Ally is rubber-stamping affidavits and filing them with our courts as evidence, I will take appropriate action. The law demands that lenders prove their case in foreclosure actions, and Illinois homeowners demand the same.”
Following these revelations, Ally announced this week that it is suspending foreclosure lawsuits in 23 states, including Illinois.
Madigan also requested that Ally immediately provide her office with details on the impact of Ally’s conduct on Illinois homeowners, including the number of Illinois homeowners affected by the suspension of foreclosures; the names of the Illinois law firms that Ally retains to pursue foreclosure actions; information about how these firms will implement and monitor the suspension of foreclosure lawsuits in Illinois; and the length of the suspension.
GMAC ranked fourth among U.S. home mortgage lenders in the first six months of this year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry newsletter.
THIS IS HUGE! Coming in… Florida might halt all Foreclosures…While pending investigation of MILLS!
Do what is right and protect these families. This involves children that do not understand what is going on. I lost my home to this fraud and they do not have to go through my stressful experience. You set new rules and these foreclosure mills continued to ignore you. What is it going to take?
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“I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or
oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice. So help me God.”
California officials today demanded that Ally Financial Inc. stop foreclosing on homes in the state, citing reports indicating the big mortgage lender is violating the law.
The cease-and-desist letter, issued by Attorney General Jerry Brown, came as officials in several other states began investigating Ally’s operations.
The controversy stems from a Florida court case in which an Ally official reportedly testified that he signed thousands of documents in foreclosure cases without even reviewing the homeowners’ loan documents.
Ally Said to Tell Freddie Mac of Faulty Foreclosures Weeks Ago
By Lorraine Woellert and Dakin Campbell – Sep 24, 2010 12:01 AM ET
Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit told Freddie Mac that foreclosures by the auto and home lender might have been faulty weeks before halting its own evictions, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Ally informed Freddie Mac on Aug. 25 that affidavits for court proceedings might not be valid, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. By Sept. 1, Freddie Mac had notified its network of lawyers and stopped related foreclosures and evictions, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter hasn’t been formally disclosed. GMAC told agents to halt evictions in 23 states on Sept. 17.
Fannie Mae, the largest government-backed mortgage firm, said it notified lawyers of flaws in GMAC documentation after it was alerted. Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith declined to say when GMAC contacted the company, and Gina Proia, the spokeswoman for Detroit-based Ally, said she couldn’t comment.
“We are obviously dismayed by reports of document problems,” Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German said in an interview. “The practices described in these reports are clearly not in compliance with Freddie Mac guidelines and servicer directives.” German wouldn’t say how many of the McLean, Virginia-based firm’s holdings were affected by the freeze.
Fannie Mae said in a statement that its servicers must adhere to all legal requirements. “It is their responsibility to put processes in place that ensure they are fulfilling this requirement, and they are accountable for rectifying any issues that may arise in this regard.”
STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.
P.O. Box 1291
Buffalo, New York 14240- 1291
Wells Fargo v. Oleg Dmitriev
Plaintiffs application is defective because there is no “affidavit made by the party” of “the facts constituting the claim, the default and the amount due” as required by CPLR §3215(f). The proffered “affidavit of merit and amount due” of Jeffrey Stephan identifies him as “the Limited Signing Officer of GMAC MORTGAGE LLC, servicer,” but no proof of Mr. Stephan’s authority to execute such affidavit on behalf of plaintiff is offered. The proffered affidavit does not otherwise comply with the requirements of CPLR $2309(c) for an out-of-state affidavit. In addition, the facts and dates recited in the affidavit regarding the consolidated mortgage and consolidated note that are the subject of this floreclosure action are at variance with the underlying documents.
In light of the foregoing, the motion for an order of reference is denied, without prejudice to renewal on proper papers.
Proposed order of reference marked “not signed.”
Dated: March 16, 2009
SUPREME COURT – STATE OF NEW YORK
I.A.S. PART XXXVI SUFFOLK COUNTY
HON. PAUL J. BAISLEY, JR., J.S.C.
GMAC v. JOSEPH A. REMKUS
The note itself reflects that it was executed and delivered by the mortgagor to E*Trade. MERS is not mentioned in the note and is given no rights therein. Accordingly, the court is unable to discern from the submissions a factual or legal basis for MERS’ purported assignment of‘the underlying note to plaintiff. Moreover, even if the purported assignment were valid in all respects, plaintiffs submissions establish that at the time of the commencement of this action plaintiff was not the owner of the mortgage and note sued upon.
The Court notes that the questionable validity of the purported assignment is further reflected by the fact that it appears to have been executed on behalf of MERS by the same person, Jeffrey Stephan, who executed the “affidavit of merit” on behalf of the plaintiff in this action.
In light of the foregoing, the motion to appoint a referee is denied.
Proposed ex-parte order marked “not signed.”
Dated: July 28, 2008
Contiune reading the NY Case below…I have others similar
I can tell you there is MAJOR, MAJOR panic happening “behind the scenes” since I have started this site I have not seen this kind of activity!All I can say is don’t stop what ever you are doing GMAC or not…
I haven’t seen the following story get much national press (Ok, none. After all, isn’t Lindsey Lohan still in the news?) but if it continues to escalate, we will. The short & sweet of the matter is that it appears most banks do not have clear title to the homes they are foreclosing. In their mad rush to capitalize on the housing bubble, bankers skipped many of the legal steps necessary to have a clear title if things went badly, which is now, and the mortgages that were bundled then securitized as MBSs (mortgage backed securities) may actually belong to the homeowners.If this plays out as described below some banks will go belly-up, which should have happened a long time ago. Since the Treasury & the Federal Reserve will not let their buddies down, however, I am certain that it is already being sorted out in back room deals. “To hell with the LAW” they will say, Shitibank is on the brink of failure.
A member of Congress has already sent a letter to the Florida Supreme Court requesting it make an order to abate all foreclosure procedures until Florida can complete investigations into the matter. A portion of Representative Grayson’s letter is below.
I respectfully request that you abate all foreclosures involving these firms until the Attorney General of the state of Florida has finished his investigations of those firms for document fraud.
I have included a court order, in which Chase, WAMU, and Shapiro and Fishman are excoriated by a judge for document fraud on the court. In this case, Chase attempted to foreclose on a home, when the mortgage note was actually owned by Fannie Mae.
Taking someone’s home should not be done lightly. And it should certainly be done in accordance with the law.
This original post can be found here
Ok, we now appear to have a pattern of conduct here where organizations trying to foreclose on homeowners are in fact submitting forged (that is, willfully known to be false) affidavits to courts around the nation.
First we had GMAC, now it appears we have JPM/Chase. Everyone’s scrambling on this, of course.
But as I pointed out, the real panic is likely still to come, because I have reason to believe (but cannot yet prove) that many if not most of the non-agency securitizations were defective at the outset.
Worse, they’re now trying to cover it up. I am amassing more and more information on the mess, and what I’m seeing is increasingly looking like a pattern of conduct that may well go far beyond “innocent mistakes” or “accidents.”
So let’s take a close look at this problem, and how we can fix it.
There’s a real visceral outrage at letting people have a “free house.” But is it really a perversity of justice if that’s what happens in point of fact – or effect? Maybe not.
Look, if I want to write you a signature loan for $200,000, I have every right to do it. If you don’t pay I’m screwed in such a case, because I have no security interest.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 9:22 PM
The nation’s overburdened foreclosure system is riddled with faked documents, forged signatures and lenders who take shortcuts reviewing borrower’s files, according to court documents and interviews with attorneys, housing advocates and company officials.
At least two officials who signed documents indicating that they had reviewed the accuracy of thousands of foreclosure proceedings have testified in sworn depositions that they didn’t actually perform at least some of the reviews.
Do you think your foreclosure documents may have been processed by Stephan or Cottrell? If you have a copy of a foreclosure document signed by Stephan or Cottrell, please post it here. Or send us information on your foreclosure using the form below.
I know if I purchased a stroller for my kid and later knew it these strollers are all defective …I hope the government would kick in and do a nationwide RECALL!!
GMAC stops some evictions, foreclosed home sales
By JANNA HERRON (AP) –
NEW YORK — GMAC Mortgage LLC said Monday it halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes as it corrects “a potential issue” in its foreclosure process.
The action highlights what is becoming a larger problem for lenders and servicers that may have illegally driven homeowners out of their houses. The issue is threatening to clog up an already overloaded foreclosure process.
Lenders took back more homes in August than in any month since the start of the U.S. mortgage crisis, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said last week. Banks have been stepping up repossessions to clear out their backlog of bad loans.
GMAC, which is owned by Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc., did not identify the specific internal issue that prompted the moratorium in its statement, but it has been linked to lawsuits this year surrounding the alleged falsification of a key foreclosure document.
The Florida attorney general is investigating three law firms for allegedly providing fraudulent affidavits that identify who holds the original mortgage note in foreclosure cases. In Florida and in other states, this document allows lenders to bypass a costly trial and proceed with a foreclosure.
Two of the three firms being investigated — the Law Office of Marshall C. Watson and the Law Offices of David J. Stern PA — have represented GMAC in foreclosure proceedings. And the person who signed many of these allegedly false affidavits was an employee of GMAC.
In a deposition taken in December, GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said he signed 10,000 affidavits or similar documents a month without personally verifying who the mortgage holder was. That means many foreclosures could have taken place based on false documentation. Stephan could not be located for comment.
“That’s hundreds of thousands of cases,” said Ice Legal PA attorney Christopher Immel who took the deposition. “And there are other people at other places who sign these kinds of documents as well.”
GMAC did not address how many homeowners would be affected by its suspension of evictions and foreclosure sales. It expects the issues to be resolved within a few weeks or, at latest, by year-end. The company didn’t respond to questions beyond its statement.
The issue of documenting who holds the mortgage is not unique to GMAC. Judges and lawyers nationwide are taking a second look at foreclosure affidavits. Many mortgages have been sliced up and sold to many investors as securities and that makes it harder to determine who is the ultimate mortgage holder.
In August, a judge in Duval County, Fla., ruled that JPMorgan Chase could not foreclose upon two homeowners because Fannie Mae carried the mortgage on its books and JPMorgan Chase only serviced the loan. JPMorgan Chase had identified itself as the owner of the loan. Similar cases across the country are pending.
The law firm that represented JPMorgan Chase in that case — Shapiro & Fishman — is the third law firm being investigated by the Florida state attorney.
Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit told brokers and agents to halt evictions tied to foreclosures on homeowners in 23 states including Florida, Connecticut and New York.
GMAC Mortgage may “need to take corrective action in connection with some foreclosures” in the affected states, according to a two-page memo dated Sept. 17 marked “urgent.” Ally Financial spokesman James Olecki confirmed the contents of the memo. Brokers were told to immediately stop evictions, cash- for-key transactions and lockouts, according to the document, addressed to GMAC preferred agents.
The lender will also suspend sales of properties on which it has already taken possession. The letter tells brokers to notify buyers that the company will extend closing dates by 30 days. Buyers will be able to cancel their agreement to purchase and get their deposit back, according to the letter.
Jeffrey Stephan, who actually works for GMAC Mortgage Corp. in Montgomery County, PA, signs thousands of Mortgage Assignments each month as an officer of other banks and mortgage companies in order to transfer mortgages TO GMAC. In Florida, the law firms that regularly present documents signed by Jeffrey Stephans as “proof” that GMAC has standing to foreclose include The Law Offices of Marshall Watson, The Law Offices of David Stern and Florida Default Law Group.
Stephan has admitted in depositions that he has no personal knowledge of the facts of documents he signs, does not verify the facts, and often does not sign in front of a notary (though the documents are eventually notarized).
Titles used by Jeffrey Stephan include the following:
(“MERS” stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.)
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for American Interbanc Mortgage , LLC;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Cardinal Financial Co., Ltd. Partnership;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Centerpoint Financial, Inc.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Central Pacific Mortgage Corp.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Certified Home Loans of Florida, Inc.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Gateway Mortgage Group, LLC;
Vice President, NERS as Nominee for GMAC Bank;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for GMAC Mortgage Corp. d/b/a Ditech.com;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Great Country Mortgage Bankers Corp.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, Inc.
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Group One Mortgage, Inc.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Homecomings Financial Network, Inc,;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Lexon Financial Mortgage Corp. d/b/a Weslend Financial Corp.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Mortgage Investors Corp.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Pinnacle Financial Corp. d/b/a Tri Star Lending Group
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Popular Mortgage Corp.;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Premier Mortgage Funding;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Quicken Loans;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Sky Investments d/b/a North Star Lending;
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for Transland Financial Services, Inc.; and
Vice President, MERS as Nominee for USAA Federal Savings Bank