In an opinion that could have unfathomable consequences in countless foreclosure cases, The Florida Bar says attorneys must notify a judge about potential fraud — including robo-signed affidavits and forged notary stamps — even if a foreclosure case is closed and the home has been sold at auction.
The direction was published in an article in today’s issue of The Florida Bar Journal as part of an outline in a new free online foreclosure class offered by The Bar. The class is in response to problems that led several major lenders to temporarily freeze foreclosures last fall.
No one knows how many cases could be affected or what judges will do when they are notified. About 1.2 million foreclosures have been filed in Florida since January 2007, according to RealtyTrac. Investigators for the Florida Attorney General’s Office have found tens of thousands of forged signatures, backdated documents and other problem paperwork at four law firms, so-called “foreclosure mills” currently under investigation.
“There has never been a problem like this before or this kind of wholesale misrepresentation,” said Margery Golant, a Boca Raton-based attorney who teaches a portion of the Bar’s four-hour online course, which instructs lawyers to report fraud. “No one knows how this is going to turn out or what the right things to do are.”