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Ben Hallman: Home Loans Can Walk, Your Mortgage Nightmare Explained

Ben Hallman: Home Loans Can Walk, Your Mortgage Nightmare Explained


HuffPO-

We may question the need for 17 brands of dishwashing detergent, but giving consumers choices is an excellent check against many types of harmful behavior of companies that make and sell products.

Sell pet food that kills cats and dogs, manufacture a pickup truck with an exploding gas tank, or even try to spin off your popular DVD-by-mail business, and customers will flee.

“This is the classic market response,” said Katherine Porter, a consumer law professor at the University of California. “Consumers vote with their feet.”

But when it comes to buying a home, these market forces are largely neutralized. That’s because debt also has feet. These days home loans, especially loans in default or otherwise in distress, get traded around more often than a mid-career relief pitcher. The lender that makes the loan may sell it to an investor, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or another bank. Sometimes the original lender gets bought out by another bank and the loan is transferred.

For homeowners who remain current on their payments and can avoid financial distress, it rarely matters who owns or services their home loan. But when times get tough, that changes.

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Prof. Katherine M. Porter to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Prof. Katherine M. Porter to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment


News Release

March 16, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: (415) 703-5837

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Independent Monitor to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment

SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the appointment of Professor Katherine Porter of the University of California, Irvine School of Law as the California monitor of the commitment by the nation’s five largest banks to perform as much as $18 billion worth of homeowner and borrower benefits in the state. Attorney General Harris’ decision to appoint a California monitor was made independent of the national settlement, and Professor Porter’s role is focused exclusively on ensuring compliance in California.

This California commitment is part of a national federal-state mortgage settlement penalizing robo-signing and other servicing and foreclosure misconduct that is currently pending approval in a federal court in Washington, D.C. Upon approval of the settlement, California’s monitor will assist the Attorney General’s office in holding the banks accountable for their commitments to the state and ensuring that the promised benefits are delivered to homeowners in full and on time.

“Hundreds of thousands of California homeowners will benefit from the commitments of up to $18 billion extracted from mortgage lenders. We must enforce full and timely compliance with these commitments, and the appointment of Professor Porter as our California monitor is central to that enforcement,” said Attorney General Harris. “Professor Porter’s wealth of experience and knowledge will protect the interests of homeowners and ensure the settling banks deliver on their promises,” Attorney General Harris continued.

“I will work hard to make sure banks hold up their promises to change troubling practices so that families and communities across California see the benefits of the settlement,” said Professor Porter. “Part of repairing the damage of the mortgage crisis is restoring public confidence that our largest financial institutions will treat consumers fairly and follow the law.”

Katherine Porter is a Professor at University of California, Irvine School of Law. She specializes in commercial and consumer law, including mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcy, and just released a book, Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class. In 2007, Porter authored an empirical study that offered some of the first systemic evidence of the problems in mortgage servicing that harmed homeowners. She has worked with other government entities, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on issues relating to mortgage servicing.

Upon approval of the settlement, Professor Porter will verify the extent and timeliness of lenders meeting their obligations to California homeowners. Using information obtained by the national monitor of the mortgage settlement, former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks Joseph Smith, Professor Porter will review lender filings, homeowner reports and complaints, and other compliance documents to ensure that benefits committed by the banks are performed and result in meaningful relief to California borrowers. She will regularly report the results of her findings to the Attorney General’s Office.

The appointment of Professor Porter as the state’s monitor is one of a series of enforcement mechanisms to ensure transparent compliance with the national settlement and the separate California agreement. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase will face significant financial penalties if they do not meet their guarantee of a minimum of $12 billion in principal reductions and short sales for homeowners within the state. Unlike the larger national agreement, which is only enforceable in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agreement reached with California empowers Attorney General Harris to enforce the penalty provisions in California state court.

California secured the estimated $18 billion in borrower benefits and relief as part of a national multistate settlement to penalize robo-signing and other bank servicing and foreclosure misconduct. The agreement comes after California departed from the multistate negotiations last September when the relief to California was estimated at $4 billion. Attorney General Harris insisted on more relief for the most distressed homeowners, on stronger enforcement provisions, and that California and other states preserve key investigations into mortgage misconduct.

California’s separate commitment also creates important incentives to ensure that banks will reduce the principal mortgage balance of underwater homeowners in California’s hardest-hit counties and that the principal reductions in these and other California communities will occur within the first year of the settlement. Professor Porter will ensure that both the California-specific and national settlements are properly implemented in the state.

“The California commitment provides a path for thousands of struggling homeowners in California to retain their homes, while preserving our ability to investigate banker crime and predatory lending,” added Attorney General Harris. “This is one important stride in our ongoing efforts to address the mortgage and foreclosure crisis that has devastated too many California communities.”

Attorney General Harris earlier this month joined Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other state legislators to unveil the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies and to help consumers and communities cope with the state’s urgent mortgage and foreclosure crisis. The legislation would make permanent and available to everyone the interim reforms agreed to as part of the California commitment, including a single point of contact for mortgage-holders and restrict the unfair and inherently deceptive system of dual-track foreclosures. State legislators authoring key components of the Homeowner Bill of Rights include Assemblymembers Wilmer Carter, Mike Davis, Mike Eng, Mike Feuer, Holly Mitchell, Nancy Skinner, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and Senators Mark DeSaulnier, Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, and Fran Pavley.

Attorney General Harris also continues her work to have the Federal Housing Finance Agency authorize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – holders or guarantors of over 60 per cent of California mortgages – to participate in targeted programs of principal reduction that will benefit struggling homeowners, stabilize the country’s housing market, and benefit taxpayers.

The state’s Mortgage Fraud Strike Force continues its work to crack down on all forms of mortgage misconduct. Earlier this month, three prominent attorneys were arrested and are accused of running a loan modification scam.

A photo of Professor Porter is attached to the electronic version of this release at http://oag.ca.gov/

# # #
Related Attachments

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RE-POST: Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims – by Katherine M. Porter

RE-POST: Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims – by Katherine M. Porter


Originally posted on 9/12/2010

Katherine M. Porter
College of Law, University of Iowa

Abstract

The greatest fear of many families in serious financial trouble is that they will lose their homes. Bankruptcy offers a last chance for families save their houses by halting a foreclosure and by repaying any default on their mortgage loans over a period of years. Mortgage companies participate in bankruptcy by filing proofs of claims with the court for the amount of the mortgage debt. In turn, bankruptcy debtors pay these claims to retain their homes. This process is well established and, until now, uncontroversial. The assumption is that the protective elements of the federal bankruptcy shield vulnerable homeowners from harm.

This Article examines the actual behavior of mortgage companies in consumer bankruptcy cases. Using original data from 1700 recent Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, I conclude that mortgage servicers frequently do not comply with bankruptcy law. A majority of mortgage claims are missing one or more of the required pieces of documentation for a bankruptcy claims. Fees and charges on claims often are poorly identified and do not appear to be reasonable. The bankruptcy data reinforce concerns about the overall reliability of the mortgage service industry to charge homeowners only the correct and legal amount of the debt and to comply with applicable consumer protection laws. Mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers can have grave consequences. Bloated claims can jeopardize a family’s ability to save their home in bankruptcy. On a system level, mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers undermine America’s homeownership policies for all families trying to buy a home.

The data also reinforce concerns about whether consumers can trust financial institutions to adhere to applicable laws. The findings are a chilling reminder of the limits of formal law to protect consumers. Imposing unambiguous legal rules does not ensure that a system will actually function to safeguard the rights of parties. Observing the reality that laws can under perform or even misfire has crucial implications for designing legal systems that produce acceptable and just behavior. *

[ipaper docId=37127499 access_key=key-1py1ywgn8bbgdaroowup height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Scalia Sets Standard for Massive Mortgage Fraud Class Action Law Suit

Scalia Sets Standard for Massive Mortgage Fraud Class Action Law Suit


Via: The Economic Populist

by Michael Collins

There hasn’t been much in the way of justice for the average citizen for quite a while. Often, those accused of crimes cannot afford adequate representation and are subject to “let’s make a deal justice.” If you’re unfortunate enough to be sued or party to a divorce proceeding, you soon learn that the court system is an entitlement program for attorneys, not a civilized means of settling disputes. (Image)

The last decade has been devastating for what many thought were inviolable fundamental rights. The Bush administration dismantled as much of the Constitution as time allowed including habeas corpus which prevents detention without a charge. Through a presidential directive, an even older legal tradition went by the way, the right to be indicted and tried before facing capital punishment. I am, of course, referring to President Obama’s declared option to assassinate citizens of the United States identified as terrorists by anonymous bureaucrats.

The Scalia opinion in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes seems like another brick in the wall that protects the powerful against the intrusions of civil rights and equal treatment sought by the rest of us. Brought in behalf of Wal-Mart’s female employees, the suit sought compensation for 1.5 million women subjected to wage discrimination.

Scalia’s opinion killed the case before the evidence was considered. He argued that the group of women suing failed were not a true “class” that met the requirements for a class action lawsuit. The women bring suit needed to show that Wal-Mart had a discriminatory evaluation procedure or “operated under a general policy of discrimination” (Wal-Mart v Dukes, pages 16-27).

Outcomes don’t matter to Scalia. The very real disparities in income highly correlated with gender were not relevant. Never mind that there was evidence of massive financial discrimination. It was all about a lack of evidence for specific prior acts by the company. Is he serious?

This doesn’t sound very good for class action law suits in general. What company has openly discriminatory assessments for promotion or an explicitly documented “general policy of discrimination?” Were Scalia any more obvious as a blocking back for the corporate elite, he’d have to wear company logos on his judicial robe while rendering decisions.

Lenders had a Specific Uniform Policy to Commit Illegal Acts against Borrowers

The Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) was created by Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and key big bank lenders in the real estate finance industry. Gretchen Morgenson reported that MERS is involved in 60 million mortgages. MERS created the electronic recording system and operates it through a subsidiary. It neither loans nor collects mortgage payments. You’d never know that reading a majority of mortgages.

Professor Christopher L. Peterson of the law school at the University of Utah noted the pervasive presence of MERS in United States mortgages:

“In boilerplate security agreements included in mortgages all around the country, lenders include this clause:

MERS is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. MERS is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is the mortgagee under this Security Instrument. MERS is organized and existing under the laws of Delaware, and has an address and telephone number …” Peterson, September 19, 2010

This language represents a legal contradiction, clearly stated by lenders when they included this boilerplate in mortgages, notes and other lending documents. You are either a “nominee” (proxy) for the lender or the lender. This is a misrepresentation on its face. MERS could never be the mortgagee because it didn’t fund the mortgage, collect payments, or service the loans. Professor Peterson provided a detailed review of the flaws I MERS claims of legal standing in 2010. (Also see ForeclosureGate Deal – The Mandatory Cover Up re Peterson’s analysis)

The foundation of over of the 60 million MERS tainted mortgages is based on misrepresentation. MERS was not what said it was. It was something entirely different. The misrepresentation represents the most basic form of contract fraud.

On June 7, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department dismissed a foreclosure action by the Bank of New York (Bank of New York, etc., respondent, v Stephen Silverberg, et al., appellants, et al., defendants). The New York Court stated: “In sum, because MERS was never the lawful holder or assignee of the notes described and identified in the consolidation agreement, the corrected assignment of mortgage is a nullity, and MERS was without authority to assign the power to foreclose to the plaintiff. Consequently, the plaintiff failed to show that it had standing to foreclose.” (Decided June 7, 2011)

In the opening line of the Wal-Mart decision, Justice Scalia noted, “We are presented with one of the most expansive class actions ever.”

How about a class action brought by tens of millions of citizens, Mr. Justice (sic)?

Had the homeowner signed a name other than his or hers, the contract would be deemed null and void. The same applies to the misrepresentation of MERS as the mortgagee.

The behavior of MERS was and remains fraudulent. The lender contracts through MERS should all be declared null and void.

Proof that the Misrepresentation was Intentional

As mortgage backed securities (MBS) were taking off, Moody’s investment issued an opinion on the legal risk to mortgage backed securities (MBS) investors faced form investments based on MERS. This was the green light for the orgy of derivative trading based on mortgages, including the subprime fiasco.

Without citing one single court case or authority and absent any contradiction from lenders or MERS, Moody’s argued that “common law principles” supported the use of MERS. Moody’s predicted that foreclosures would not be “materially impacted” and that, after an “adjustment period,” courts and attorneys would “get familiar with MERS.”

This was wrong at the time it was published. The stunning inaccuracy has been demonstrated in court decisions acrosscountry. But the Moody’s opinion of 1999 was issued, ex cathedra, as it were. It stood unchallenged by the lenders. They knew or should have known that there was no legal support for this arrangement. the

MERS and lender behavior during foreclosure proceedings provides another powerful demonstration of illegal intent. Even though it was not entitled to do so as the mortgagee and note holder, MERS was the named party in tens of thousands of foreclosure actions.

The lenders also showed a clear pattern of knowing disregard for the law by filing defective claims in bankruptcy courts. Professor Katherine Porter of the University of Iowa and Harvard University law schools examined 1700 Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings. The study reported that over half of foreclosure claims lacked “one or more of the required pieces of documentation for a bankruptcy claim.” Lender fees were “poorly identified” and “seemed unreasonable.” Porter concluded:

“The bankruptcy data reinforce concerns about the overall reliability of the mortgage service industry to charge homeowners only the correct and legal amount of the debt and to comply with applicable consumer protection laws.” Katherine M. Porter, 2008

With all of their resources, lenders filing mortgage claims in court should be expected to make very few mistakes and almost never leave out documents required by law to make the foreclosure enforceable. They knew or should have known that this was happening. Their behavior shows major contempt for the law and is likely illegal.

MERS Mortgage Holders Meet Scalia’s Requirement for a “Class”

They have a common grievance, the fraudulent misrepresentation by MERS that it was the mortgagee.

They can prove specific violations of law prior, during, and after the fact. The contract contained a fundamental misrepresentation; one that MERS and lenders knew was a misrepresentation. For a subclass, those who were subject to foreclosure proceedings as part of a MERS contract, the illegality is demonstrated by the pattern of repeated incomplete filings while attesting to the court that the filings were complete.

Will the court ever hear a class action by millions of homeowners demanding the cancellation of mortgages contracted through MERS?

Will it cancel existing mortgages and reverse foreclosures with damages paid? Of course not. But it should. It meets the Scalia standard for class actions to a tee.

END

This article may be reproduced entirely or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Original Source: [THE ECONOMIC POPULIST]

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Mortgage Transfers Are Valid, Group Argues as Congressional Hearings Begin

Mortgage Transfers Are Valid, Group Argues as Congressional Hearings Begin


By Jody Shenn and Prashant Gopal – Nov 16, 2010 11:14 AM ET

A trade group for companies that help package loans and leases into securities rejected claims that mortgage-bond trusts can’t prove ownership of debt they hold as Congress began hearings on the foreclosure crisis.

The standard practices of the industry result “if followed, in a valid and enforceable transfer of mortgage notes and the underlying mortgages,” Tom Deutsch, executive director of the New York-based American Securitization Forum, said in a study released today. Lawmakers in Washington ordered hearings on mortgage practices after loan servicers including Ally Financial Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. halted foreclosure proceedings following revelations of so-called robo-signing.

The trade group focused on whether industry practices resulted in securitization trusts taking ownership of loans, though not whether all the paperwork needed for foreclosures is in order. Without taking ownership of mortgages within a set period after their creation, often 90 days, the trusts may be unable to later assemble the documents needed for foreclosures because of contractual requirements or tax rules.

“The law is somewhat unsettled on what actually must be done via a securitization to complete the transfers correctly,” visiting Harvard Law professor Katherine Porter told a Congressional Oversight Panel Oct. 27. Porter has said “there is disagreement on whether the transfer of the notes needed to have occurred individually,” or potentially with a specific endorsement to the new holder or a physical transfer.

Legal Challenges

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BLOOMBERG | No Breaks for Robo-signing Computer Stamping Mortgage Documents

BLOOMBERG | No Breaks for Robo-signing Computer Stamping Mortgage Documents


EXCELLENT JOB! Now this is what I am talking about…no affidavits…it’s the “assignments”, the destroyed notes, the Break in Chain, the E-Signatures, no supervision!

Bryan Bly is a pen-wielding “robo- signer” at Nationwide Title Clearing Inc., inking his name on an average 5,000 mortgage documents a day for companies such as Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Those are just the ones that cross his desk.

Nationwide Title employs a computer system that automatically inserts a copy of Bly’s signature on thousands of digital files that he never sees. The system even affixes an electronic notary seal.

“The problem with the way these documents are created isn’t because a computer is used,” said Gloria Einstein, a legal aid attorney in Green Cove Springs, Florida, who deposed Bly in a case in a which her client faces foreclosure by a unit of Deutsche Bank AG. “It’s because an enterprise has decided to use a computer to create a system where nobody is responsible for the information and the decisions.”

The rush to securitize more than $4 trillion of mortgages as U.S. home sales peaked in 2005 and 2006 inundated loan servicers and contractors like Palm Harbor, Florida-based Nationwide Title that help them handle paperwork. Lawsuits fighting some of the more than 4 million foreclosures since then have exposed sloppy recordkeeping and raised questions about the validity of documents used to seize properties.

Signatures Draw Scrutiny

Bly is just one of more than a dozen robo-signers deposed in the past two years by lawyers for borrowers seeking to block foreclosures. Spurred by descriptions in depositions of employees signing thousands of affidavits a week without checking their accuracy as legally required, the attorneys general in all 50 states last month opened an investigation into whether banks and loan servicers used faulty documents or improper practices to foreclose.

Nationwide Title, which has about 175 employees, provides document imaging, tracking, retrieval, recording and processing on bulk loan transfers for lenders, servicers and investors. It’s the largest third-party processor of mortgage assignments, handling more than 350,000 last year, Senior Vice President Jeremy Pomerantz said in a telephone interview. The company also prepares lien releases, which show that a mortgage has been paid off by the borrower.

Assignments, which are usually recorded with county land record departments, list the buyer and seller of a loan as it’s sold or packaged with other loans into a mortgage-backed security. Lawyers for homeowners are challenging the legitimacy of the documents, which are relied on by lenders to show they have the right to foreclose.

Batches of 30,000

(While closely held Nationwide Title in the past offered a package of foreclosure-specific services, it had just one client, Pomerantz said. The company doesn’t handle foreclosure affidavits — submitted by banks to assert ownership of a loan when they’ve lost the promissory note or to show that borrowers are in default — and often it doesn’t know when clients are requesting documents for defaulted loans, he said.)

Nationwide Title’s proprietary system isn’t entirely automated, said Erika Lance, senior vice president of administration. Employees receive requests from clients for lien releases and mortgage assignments, which are often sent in batches of as many as 30,000. They review the information and images of loan documents sent along with the request, and the information is keyed into the computer system.

The computer system fills in the electronic assignments in the format and wording each county requires, and places a signature and notary seal from a list of employees approved by each bank. Bly and other signers are given a title at the bank requesting the documents, such as “vice president” or “assistant secretary,” depending on what the individual counties require, Lance said.

Laws Catching Up

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[VIDEO] MAX GARDNER’S BOOT CAMP, KATHERINE PORTER ABC NEWS

[VIDEO] MAX GARDNER’S BOOT CAMP, KATHERINE PORTER ABC NEWS


Excellent Video.

Please visit links below for more info:

Max Gardner’s Boot Camp

Professor Katherine M. Porter

Kentucky Attorney Carole Friend

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Testimony of Katherine M. Porter Before the Congressional Oversight Panel

Testimony of Katherine M. Porter Before the Congressional Oversight Panel


Please visit her website at MortgageStudy.org

The Mortgage Study is an empirical study of homeowners in financial distress. The co-principal investigators, Tara Twomey and Katherine Porter, began the project in 2004 to explore the intersection of homeownership and bankruptcy. With funding from the Endowment for Education of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, they constructed a sample of over 1700 chapter bankruptcy cases, coding over 100 data points for each case on each homeowner’s mortgage obligations. The first paper to use Mortgage Study data, Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims, was published in the Texas Law Review in 2008 and was featured in a front-page story in the New York Times. Porter and Twomey are frequent speakers on mortgage issues and continue to release new research using the Mortgage Study data.

[ipaper docId=40330531 access_key=key-212m96obszij55y33ghd height=600 width=600 /]

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Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims

Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims


Katherine M. Porter
College of Law, University of Iowa

Abstract

The greatest fear of many families in serious financial trouble is that they will lose their homes. Bankruptcy offers a last chance for families save their houses by halting a foreclosure and by repaying any default on their mortgage loans over a period of years. Mortgage companies participate in bankruptcy by filing proofs of claims with the court for the amount of the mortgage debt. In turn, bankruptcy debtors pay these claims to retain their homes. This process is well established and, until now, uncontroversial. The assumption is that the protective elements of the federal bankruptcy shield vulnerable homeowners from harm.

This Article examines the actual behavior of mortgage companies in consumer bankruptcy cases. Using original data from 1700 recent Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, I conclude that mortgage servicers frequently do not comply with bankruptcy law. A majority of mortgage claims are missing one or more of the required pieces of documentation for a bankruptcy claims. Fees and charges on claims often are poorly identified and do not appear to be reasonable. The bankruptcy data reinforce concerns about the overall reliability of the mortgage service industry to charge homeowners only the correct and legal amount of the debt and to comply with applicable consumer protection laws. Mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers can have grave consequences. Bloated claims can jeopardize a family’s ability to save their home in bankruptcy. On a system level, mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers undermine America’s homeownership policies for all families trying to buy a home.

The data also reinforce concerns about whether consumers can trust financial institutions to adhere to applicable laws. The findings are a chilling reminder of the limits of formal law to protect consumers. Imposing unambiguous legal rules does not ensure that a system will actually function to safeguard the rights of parties. Observing the reality that laws can under perform or even misfire has crucial implications for designing legal systems that produce acceptable and just behavior. *

[ipaper docId=37127499 access_key=key-1py1ywgn8bbgdaroowup height=600 width=600 /]

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



Posted in bankruptcy, deed of trust, Economy, foreclosure, foreclosures, investigation, mortgage, note, Real Estate, universityComments (1)


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