Thursday, April 7, 2011

Foreclosure Fraud: Did the bank lose your paperwork?

This is not a feel good blog post.
This post is very likely to make your blood boil.
To twist your stomach into knots.
At the heart of this post is outrage and disgust.

Here we go...

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes featured an incredible story about the foreclosure crisis that brings this entire disaster to an all new low. 

And it's all about the paperwork.

Remember all that paperwork you signed when you bought your house? Oh, the paperwork. Pages and pages of paperwork. Of course you remember the paperwork!

Well, according to the 60 Minutes story, it's very possible that your bank doesn't remember it. That they might have "lost" it. But not really. They say "lost" but what they mean is that they never actually bothered with it when your loan was bundled and sold. Why? Because all of that paperwork would just slow down profits.

This might seem like a small point. But it's not. Without that paperwork, the bank cannot prove ownership of your mortgage. And if the bank can't prove who owns your mortgage, then they have no legal right to foreclosure.


Here's an excerpt from the 60 Minutes story reported by Scott Pelley that explains:
Scott Pelley explains a bizarre aftershock of the U.S. financial collapse: An epidemic of forged and missing mortgage documents.


It's bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they're unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren't there.
Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people - down on their luck - out of their homes.
So, the banks can't find the mortgage paperwork so they create phony paperwork. Forgeries. Can you imagine? This is real. This actually happened.

You've got to watch the entire segment. It's truly unbelievable.

Bravo to Scott Pelley and 60 Minutes for breaking this story wide open.

But the real props go to Lynn Szymoniak. She is the source for this story and the woman who discovered the forged documents while fighting to save her own home from foreclosure. When Szymoniak was told that the bank had lost her documents only to miraculously find them a year later, she got suspicious. And as a lawyer and fraud specialist focusing on forgeries, she uncovered this conspiracy.

This is truly a mess. No. A disgrace. I think back to when Bob and I were trying to modify our loan and were required to provide the bank with endless streams of paperwork. Over and over again. The banks required that the paperwork be perfect. They would lose it. We'd send it again. They were allowed to make mistakes, we were not.

This brings it all to a whole new level. It's unacceptable. Period.

And the banks shouldn't be allowed to get away with forgery, simply by claiming ignorance.

By the way, banks that participated in creating false documents to replace "lost" paperwork include:

Wells Fargo
Bank of America
HSBC
Deutsche Bank
Citibank
US Bank

They all outsourced their forgery to a company called Docx. Well, not directly. They claim that their mortgage servicing firms are the ones that are responsible for hiring Docx to create the phony documents and that they had no knowledge of any forgeries taking place.

Do you buy that?
That the banks had no idea this was happening? I don't. Not for a second.
And I'm tired of this argument. Of course they knew. And they should take full responsibility.
How many down-on-their-luck homeowners have to pay for this nightmare?

People in foreclosure are already living their nightmares and now this?

How do you know if your mortgage paperwork was "lost"? 
Well, if your mortgage was bundled and sold at the height of the real estate peak, then it's very possible that your paperwork was forged along the way. So, you'll want to request your paperwork from the bank. And then look it over closely. Look at the date of assignment of mortgage. Look at the signature. If it's signed by "Linda Green" then it's been forged.

Who is Linda Green?
I'll let 60 Minutes explain:

One of the strangest signatures belonged to the bank vice president who had signed Szymoniak's newly discovered mortgage documents. The name is Linda Green. But, on thousands of other mortgages, the style of Green's signature changed a lot.


And, even more remarkable, Szymoniak found Green was vice president of 20 banks - all at the same time.


Where did all those documents come from? We went searching for "the" Linda Green and found her in rural Georgia. She told us she has never been a bank vice president.


In 2003, she was a shipping clerk for auto parts when her grandson told her about a job at a company called Docx. The company, that was once housed in Alpharetta, Ga., was a sweatshop for forged mortgage documents.


"They were sitting in a room signing their name as fast as they possibly could to any kind of nonsense document that was put in front of them," Szymoniak said.

I urge any homeowner (whether in foreclosure or not) to request your documents to see if your mortgage might have been a part of this mess. It's best to know now in case, God forbid, you might end up in foreclosure down the road.

And everyone should watch the 60 Minutes segment. Today.



Or you can read the text: Mortgage Paperwork Mess: Next Housing Shock?

What do you think of all of this? Have you been told by your bank that your paperwork has been lost? Any lawyers out there reading this? What say you?

59 Comments:

NikkiD said...

Wow. Just wow.

JMC said...

I don't want to state specifics, but from what I saw working in the mortgage business-I totally believe this.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know what to do if you've LOST foreclosure paperwork? Who would i contact in order to get the paperwork needed for tax purposes?

Russell Marino said...

I heard for my real-estate agent in FL that there were people who ended up owning there homes out right because of the mess up. She said it is possible to own your home out right but there is a lot of paperwork involved. I have been trying to look up information on how this is done but cant find anything on it. Has anyone heard of this? If so where did you find the information.

Anonymous said...

I need info, as well. I am going thru the same process only to find out as of yesterday my paper work has suddenly disappeared. If the banks can't prove they own it, then what???

Anonymous said...

I am in this same boat in Illinois. According to my lawyer I have to stay current on my real estate taxes. There could be 100 or 1 million people who own my home because it was bundled and sold as stock. Not only that my mortgage company was paid for the home when it was bundled and sold off. The rub lies in where do I get title from if I continue to pay my mortgage for the remaining 12 years. How do I get clear title if there isn't any legal owner with majority ownership of the stock in my own. When those mortgages where bundled many of those mortgages were shipped off to loan servicing companies because the mortgage companies dumped them. The loan servicing companies are collecting money for a fee to collect your mortgage for who? Your mortgage company got paid by the people who bought the stock? Now in Illinois if you live in your home unencumbered for 2 years without anyone removing you from the property for 24 hours, you now have squatters rights. The important thing is to keep up with the real estate taxes at all costs.

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