2 minor corrections: 1. There are now 66 Million mortgages in MERS 2. The First Edition of MERS Recommended Foreclosure Procedures was actually written in 1998. To see the First Ed. from 1998 go here towards the bottom.
Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City
In part one of this series I showed that MERS recommended that mortgage servicers retain the “wet ink” notes that borrowers signed. These notes are required in 45 states to foreclose on a home. Not only does the foreclosing party need to physically hold the note, but the note must be properly endorsed and transferred every time a mortgage is sold. A clear chain of title must be demonstrated to make the note valid. This is to protect borrowers from fraud — no one can manufacture a note, claim to be a creditor, and then take a homeowner’s property. And this is especially important when mortgages are securitized and bought and sold a dozen times — if there is no clear chain of title, the borrower can never be sure who is really the creditor.
But, in fact, the notes were never transferred, there is no clear chain of paperwork, and in many cases the notes have “disappeared” so that when the servicers or MERS tries to foreclose, they must file “lost note affidavits” claiming rightful ownership even though they do not have evidence. They have also been caught using “robo-signers” to forge documents — and sometimes they have foreclosed on the wrong properties and even seized homes on which there was no mortgage. That is precisely why the law requires proper transfers of the note. Without that, the mortgage is a fraud and foreclosure is fraudulent.
By itself, all of this is a horrific scandal, involving up to 65 million mortgages — the number of mortgages registered at MERS, most of which presumably were subjected to MERS’s guidelines and extremely sloppy record-keeping. But like Shrek’s onion, it is much more complicated than that — with layer after layer of fraud piled on fraud. There are many angles to be explored, most of them too complex and arcane to be pursued in a short column. Here, in part two, I will discuss the implications for the securities that bundled the fraudulent mortgages registered at MERS. Not only did MERS defraud the counties out of their recording fees and the homeowners out of their homes, but it also helped to perpetrate securities fraud and federal tax fraud. Fortunately for the investors in these securities, the securitization process was fatally flawed, meaning that they can return to the issuing banks and demand their money back. But that implies, of course, that the banksters are hopelessly insolvent — on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars.