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Internal Doc Reveals GMAC Filed False Document in Bid to Foreclose

Internal Doc Reveals GMAC Filed False Document in Bid to Foreclose


by Paul Kiel
ProPublica, July 27, 2011, 1:07 p.m.

GMAC, one of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers, faced a quandary last summer. It wanted to foreclose on a New York City homeowner but lacked the crucial paperwork needed to seize the property.

GMAC has a standard solution to such problems, which arise frequently in the post-bubble economy. Its employees secure permission to create and sign documents in the name of companies that made the original loans. But this case was trickier because the lender, a notorious subprime company named Ameriquest, had gone out of business in 2007.

And so GMAC, which was bailed out by taxpayers [1] in 2008, began looking for a way to craft a document that would pass legal muster, internal records obtained by ProPublica [2]show.

“The problem is we do not have signing authority—are there any other options?” Jeffrey Stephan, the head of GMAC’s “Document Execution” team, wrote to another employee and the law firm pursuing the foreclosure action [2]. No solutions were offered.

Three months later, GMAC had an answer. It filed a document with New York City authorities [3] that said the delinquent Ameriquest loan had been assigned to it “effective of” August 2005. The document [3] was dated July 7, 2010, three years after Ameriquest had ceased to exist and was signed by Stephan, who was identified as a “Limited Signing Officer” for Ameriquest Mortgage Company. Soon after, GMAC filed for foreclosure.

An examination by ProPublica suggests this transaction was not unique. A review of court records in New York identified hundreds of similar assignment documents filed in the name of Ameriquest after 2008 by GMAC and other mortgage servicers.

Get ProPublica’s stories delivered to your inbox [4]

The issue has attracted growing scrutiny in recent months as bloggers [5], consumer attorneys and media outlets [6] have identified what appears to be part of a pattern of questionable assignments filed across the country.

GMAC, which is still majority owned by the government, was at the center of what became known as the robo-signing scandal [7]. The uproar began last fall after revelations that mortgage servicing employees had produced flawed documents to speed foreclosures [8]. GMAC and other banks have acknowledged filing false affidavits in which bank officials claimed “personal knowledge” of the facts underlying thousands of mortgages. But GMAC and other servicers say they’ve since tightened their procedures. They insist that their records were largely accurate and the affidavits amounted to errors of form, not substance.

The issues surrounding the Ameriquest loan and others like it appear to be more serious.

“This assignment of mortgage has all of the markings of GMAC finding that it lacked a needed mortgage assignment in order to foreclose and just making it up,” said Thomas Cox, a Maine foreclosure defense attorney.

In New York, it’s a felony to file a public record with “intent to deceive.”

“It’s fraud,” said Linda Tirelli, a consumer bankruptcy attorney. “I want to know who’s going to do a perp walk for recording this.”

No criminal charges have been filed in the robo-signing cases.

Asked by ProPublica about the document, GMAC acknowledged Stephan did not have authority to sign on behalf of Ameriquest. The bank said it is still planning to push ahead with foreclosure on the homeowner, who remains in the property.

Company spokeswoman Gina Proia said an internal review last fall into “suspected documentation execution issues” had flagged the loan as problematic and that GMAC is “determining what needs to be done in order to receive the necessary authorization.”

“We will determine and complete the necessary steps to remediate and proceed with foreclosure,” Proia said.

GMAC also declined a request from ProPublica to interview Stephan.

Another GMAC document obtained by ProPublica shows that in at least one recent incident, GMAC employees were still discussing the possibility of fabricating evidence needed to facilitate a foreclosure.

The company once again lacked a document that would show it had been assigned the mortgage. Since the lender was defunct and no assignment had ever been made, GMAC again seemed to be stuck. But the employee proposed in June of this year that GMAC file a sworn statement that the assignment had once existed but had been lost. It’s unclear if such an affidavit was ultimately provided to a court.

Records also show that GMAC has continued to rely on documents signed by the very employee at the center of the robo-signing scandal—Jeffrey Stephan, the same employee who also signed the Ameriquest document in 2010. Stephan acknowledged in sworn testimony last year that he had been signing 400 documents each day [9], a revelation that helped kick off the scandal. According to a former employee and a consumer attorney, Stephan still works at GMAC, though he has been transferred to a different unit.

GMAC said it is still pursuing foreclosures based on assignments signed by Stephan. As part of a bid to rebrand itself, GMAC renamed its holding company Ally Financial last year.

“There is no reason or requirement to ‘withdraw’ valid assignments of mortgage that happened to have been signed by Mr. Stephan,” said GMAC spokeswoman Proia, because there’s “no requirement that [the assignment] be signed by a person with knowledge of any particular facts.” All that mattered, she said, was that the signer had received the proper authority.

Banks have little reason to worry about their documents being challenged, since homeowners rarely contest foreclosure actions. In a filing with the New Jersey Supreme Court, GMAC said that of the more than 4,000 foreclosures it has handled in the state only about 4 percent of homeowners had contested the action.

When homeowners do challenge banks’ documentation for foreclosures, they can have success. Late last week, the Vermont Supreme Court threw out a foreclosure case handled by GMAC due, in part, to a flawed assignment document signed by Stephan.

“It is neither irrational nor wasteful to expect the foreclosing party be actually in possession of its claimed interest,” the court said [10], “and have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit.”

Since last fall, GMAC has added staff, increased training and added new procedures, said Proia. But some of those new hires have come from firms themselves accused of filing false foreclosure documents.

One manager at GMAC, Kevin Crecco, moved there from a position at the Law Offices of David Stern in Florida after the firm drew scrutiny from the state’s attorney general for allegedly filing forged documents. Stern’s office, once among Florida’s biggest foreclosure law firms and labeled a “foreclosure mill” by critics, ceased operations earlier this year.

An internal organization chart [11] from this spring for GMAC’s foreclosure department lists Crecco as a manager overseeing roughly two dozen employees. GMAC declined to make Crecco available for an interview. He hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

Mortgage servicers like GMAC continue to be set up like assembly lines, with members of its “Document Execution” team responsible for signing documents. The organizational chart shows two “Document Execution” teams of 13 employees each.

The employees are tasked with, among other things, signing affidavits attesting to the accuracy of the basic facts of the loan, such as the mortgage amount, outstanding fees, etc. Affidavits are a necessary step to foreclosure in many states where banks have to go to court to seize a home.

During the robo-signing scandal, GMAC admitted that employees signing affidavits didn’t verify the underlying facts. The bank says it has fixed the problems.

But consumer attorneys said that while GMAC’s processes have improved, they haven’t corrected basic flaws with their process.

Cox, the attorney who questioned Stephan last year as part of a foreclosure case, said employees on the “Document Execution” team still aren’t truly checking the accuracy of the underlying information. Rather than digging for the original documents, employees on the team look at the numbers given by a GMAC database and double-check the math.

If the employee “just looks at a computer screen, that’s not sufficient in my view,” said Cox. He said he would soon be challenging affidavits GMAC recently filed in court.

Consumer attorneys also said the systems that servicers rely on are consistently plagued with inaccuracies, making a more thorough verification of the information necessary. “These days, homeowners are being forced to save every receipt, every letter, every statement, so that one day they can prove that their payment history is accurate and the bank is wrong,” said Jim Kowalski, a consumer attorney in Florida.

GMAC’s Proia said the company’s procedures—which amount to a review of information in the company’s computerized databases—were sufficient to file affidavits.

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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OPTION ARM | Foreclosure Deal May Let Banks Pick Payment Options

OPTION ARM | Foreclosure Deal May Let Banks Pick Payment Options


So much for the RegiSTARS, who requested to be included in discussions…and being ignored.

BLOOMBERG-

U.S. banks and state attorneys general, seeking to avoid $17 billion in court claims over faulty foreclosures, are discussing a settlement framework that may let firms choose from a menu of options for helping borrowers, two people briefed on the talks said.

Under the proposal, Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Citigroup Inc. (C) and Ally Financial Inc. would pay penalties and pledge billions of dollars in relief to home buyers, one of the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. Firms may fulfill obligations to borrowers over time, choosing among options such as reducing loan principal, cutting fees or paying moving costs, the people said.


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STATEMENT BY CT ATTORNEY GENERAL GEORGE JEPSEN CONCERNING MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE INVESTIGATION

STATEMENT BY CT ATTORNEY GENERAL GEORGE JEPSEN CONCERNING MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE INVESTIGATION


ATTORNEY GENERAL GEORGE JEPSEN
STATEMENT BY ATTORNEY GENERAL GEORGE JEPSEN
CONCERNING MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE INVESTIGATION

For immediate release ……………………………………..TUESDAY MAY 17, 2011

“The multistate investigation of the nation’s largest mortgage servicing companies confirms what my office has been told by thousands of Connecticut consumers, that these banks have done an incredibly poor job in dealing with the mortgage foreclosure mess they were instrumental in creating. As a result, millions of families have needlessly suffered, homeowners have lost billions of dollars in equity, and the real estate market continues to stagnate. Time is of the essence to fix this problem.

“Thus far, the national servicers have been unwilling to step up to the plate with the money necessary to address the full scope of the problems they themselves created. I believe they face substantial legal liability for their clearly illegal behavior should states be forced to sue. After being bailed out by American taxpayers, the banks owe those same taxpayers a real effort to partner with state and federal officials to clean up this mess.”

Attorney General Jepsen is a member of the National Association of Attorneys General multi-state task force seeking resolution of the mortgage foreclosure crisis

[Source: http://www.ct.gov/ag/site/default.asp]

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Regulatory Actions Related to Foreclosure Activities by Large Servicers and Practical Implications for Community Banks

Regulatory Actions Related to Foreclosure Activities by Large Servicers and Practical Implications for Community Banks


This Special Foreclosure Edition describes lessons learned from an interagency review of foreclosure practices at the 14 largest residential mortgage servicers and includes examples of effective mortgage servicing practices derived from these lessons.

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Click Image Below

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Banks Rush to Improve Foreclosure Practices,

Banks Rush to Improve Foreclosure Practices,


Tic Toc, Tick Toc,

Tic Toc…

Wall Street Journal-

“We’re not happy” with the time it takes to give borrowers an answer, said Christine Larsen, head of operations for retail financial services at J.P. Morgan, who is responsible for implementing the consent orders. The bank is trying to speed response times by setting new customer-communication deadlines.

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False Statements: R.K. Arnold, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems

False Statements: R.K. Arnold, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems


False Statements

R.K. Arnold
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems

Action Date: November 18, 2010
Location: WASHINGTON, DC

As the many problems (frauds) are exposed regarding documents used by mortgage-backed trusts in foreclosures, some revelations stand out. Literally millions of foreclosures by mortgage-backed trusts hinge on a Mortgage Assignment signed by an officer of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”) showing that the mortgage in question was transferred to the trust by MERS. The “MERS officer” who signs the Mortgage Assignment is actually most often an employee of a mortgage servicing company that is paid by the trust.

MERS itself has only 50 employees and they are not involved in signing mortgage assignments to trusts. These servicing company employees sign as officers of MERS “as nominee for” a particular mortgage company or bank. They are not employees of the mortgage companies or employees of the original named lender, but their titles on the Mortgage Assignment belie this and typically read: “Linda Green, Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for American Brokers Conduit.”

MERS president R.K. Arnold testified in Senate testimony earlier this week that there are over 20,000 MERS “certifying officers.” To become a MERS certifying officer, a mortgage servicing company employee need only complete an online form and pay $25.00. Because of the concealment of the actual employer on the Mortgage Assignments, it is easy enough for Courts, and homeowners, to believe that they are examining a document prepared by the lender that sold the mortgage to the trust, when, in fact, the signer was a servicing company clerk paid by the trust itself.

The representative of the GRANTOR is, in truth, a paid employee of the GRANTEE. In hundreds of thousands of cases, the authority is, therefore, misrepresented. It is now also coming to light that in tens of thousands of cases, the individuals signing these forms did not even sign their own names. The documents were made to look official because other mortgage servicing company employees signed as witnesses and then all four “signatures” were notarized by yet another mortgage servicing company employee. The titles were false, the signatures were forged, the “witnessing” was a lie, as was the notarization. Despite all of these false statements, the BIGGEST LIE on these documents is that the trust acquired the mortgage on the date stated plainly on the Mortgage Assignment. In truth, no such transfers ever took place as represented by these MERS certifying officers (or their stand-in forgers). The date chosen almost always corresponds not to an actual transfer, but to the date roughly corresponding to the time the loan went into default. The Mortgage Assignment was prepared only to provide “proof” that the trust owned the mortgage. Until courts require Trusts to come forward with actual proof that they acquired the mortgages in question, specifying whom they paid and how much they paid for each such trust-owned mortgage, the actual owner of these mortgages will never be known.

In response to the exposure of the widespread fraud in the securitization process, the American Bankers Association issued a statement essentially saying that Mortgage Assignments were unnecessary. Investors and regulators were told, however, that the trusts owned the mortgages and notes in each pool of mortgages and that valid Assignments of Mortgages had been obtained. Where the proof of ownership put forth by the trusts is a sworn statement by a MERS “certifying officer” who had no knowledge whatsoever of the transactions involved and did not even review documents related to the transactions, such proof of ownership should be deemed worthless by the Courts. Other litigants are not allowed to manufacture their own evidence and offer it as proof at trial – there should be no exception for mortgage-backed trusts.

In particular, where the “MERS Certifying Officer” is actually an employee of the law firm hired to handle the foreclosure, such documents should be stricken and sanctioned. “MERS Certifying Officers” should be the next group required to testify before Congress. Here are the statistics for one Florida county, Palm Beach County, regarding the number of Mortgage Assignments filed by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems: January, 2009: 1,164; February, 2009: February, 2009: 1,230; March, 2009: March, 2009: 1,113. An examination of just one day’s (March 31, 2009) filed Mortgage Assignments reveals that the signers of these Assignments are the very same mortgage servicing company employees who signed the “no-actual knowledge” Affidavits that triggered the national scrutiny: Jeffrey Stephan from Ally, Erica Johnson-Seck from IndyMac, Crystal Moore from Nationwide Title Clearing, Liquenda Allotey from Lender Processing Services, Denise Bailey from Litton Loan Services, Noriko Colston, Krystal Hall, and other well-known professional signers from the mortgage servicing industry. The most frequent signers from that particular day were two lawyers, associates in the law firm representing the trusts, who signed as Assistant Secretary for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.


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FORECLOSURES “FLAWED”, “UNACCEPTABLE”| TESTIMONY OF CEO ALLY FINANCIAL TESTIMONY

FORECLOSURES “FLAWED”, “UNACCEPTABLE”| TESTIMONY OF CEO ALLY FINANCIAL TESTIMONY


“Our company’s process for preparing foreclosure affidavits was flawed”

“There were affidavits signed outside the immediate physical presence of a notary and without direct personal knowledge of the information in the affidavit”

“These flaws are entirely unacceptable to me”

[ipaper docId=43009585 access_key=key-15r3zmuzvsk1rrbsdz6k height=600 width=600 /]

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FLORIDA CLASS ACTION: HUBER v. GMAC, ALLY FINANCIAL

FLORIDA CLASS ACTION: HUBER v. GMAC, ALLY FINANCIAL


COUNT I

VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF STATE OF LAW42U.S.C.1983

COUNT II
ABUSE OF PROCESS

COUNT III
UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES, FLA. STAT. 501.201 et. seq.

COUNT IV
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT- UNCLEAN HANDS 28 U.S.C. 2201-2202

COUNT V
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT- VOID AFFIDAVITS 28 U.S.C. 2201-2202

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

[ipaper docId=41467074 access_key=key-26mabjuyq21vtvvdzrw0 height=600 width=600 /]

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Ally CEO Says Firm `Screwed Up’ Using Robosigners on Foreclosure Documents

Ally CEO Says Firm `Screwed Up’ Using Robosigners on Foreclosure Documents


Ally Financial Inc., the auto and home lender, said the company was “embarrassed” that it used so-called robosigners to fill out foreclosure documents.

We screwed up,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Carpenter, 63, said today during a conference call on third- quarter earnings for Detroit-based Ally. “We had a robosigner affidavit problem. No question about it. We’re embarrassed about it and we fixed it going forward.

Any errors will be corrected and the company is “confident that we did not foreclose on anybody inappropriately,” Carpenter said. “It’s up to us to prove that.”

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[VIDEO] OHIO AG CORDRAY “BANKS OPERATING ON A BUSINESS MODEL BUILT ON FRAUD”

[VIDEO] OHIO AG CORDRAY “BANKS OPERATING ON A BUSINESS MODEL BUILT ON FRAUD”


“Defrauded Our Courts”

“Sanctions” & Penalties”

“Fraudulent Evidence”

“Refiling an Insult”

“Business Model Based On Fraud”

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray talks about the probe by attorneys general in all 50 states into mortgage foreclosure practices and the disclosure by Wells Fargo & Co. that it found flaws in court documents. Wells Fargo, the biggest U.S. home lender, said it will file supplemental foreclosure affidavits to courts in about 55,000 proceedings after finding some statements “did not strictly adhere to the required procedures.” Cordray speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.” (Source: Bloomberg)?

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Banks, Servicers Subpoenaed by Texas Attorney General Abbott

Banks, Servicers Subpoenaed by Texas Attorney General Abbott


October 25, 2010, 8:54 PM EDT

By Margaret Cronin Fisk

(Updates with spokesman’s comment in second paragraph.)

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent subpoenas to JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and seven other banks or loan servicers seeking information about foreclosure practices, a spokesman said.

“The state is subpoenaing information and documents,” Jerry Strickland, the spokesman, said in an interview. He didn’t elaborate. The state also subpoenaed Ally Financial Inc., CitiMortgage Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Abbott began investigating foreclosure practices in Texas following the disclosure of a December deposition in which an employee of Ally’s GMAC Mortgage unit testified that his team signed about 10,000 documents a month without verifying their accuracy. On Oct. 13, all 50 state attorneys general announced a joint investigation of foreclosures.

The Texas subpoenas followed letters sent by Abbott’s office to 30 loan servicers on Oct. 4, asking them to halt foreclosures in the state pending a review of their practices.

Abbott asked banks then to identify employees who filed faulty affidavits or other documents in the state and identify foreclosures that used such documents. He also asked lenders and servicers to halt all sales of properties previously foreclosed upon and stop all evictions.

Twenty-six of those companies responded to the letters, according to a spreadsheet of answers sent today by Strickland.

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