Tag Archives: Fraud

The Long-Term Cost of the Mortgage Fraud Meltdown — The Real Legacy of Wall Street

13 Nov

This is a re-post by Niel Garfield

Posted 21 hours ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

Editor’s Note: Why do I do this? Because we are delivering a message to future generations about how the world works contrary to our constitution and contrary to American values and ideals. Conservatives conserve nothing except the wealth of the fantastic few while the liberals liberate nobody from the yoke of economic slavery. Maybe it’s all a game. I won’t play and if you care about this country and wish to avoid a societal collapse, you should stop playing too.

History has shown us with grim clarity what happens to any country or empire when the power and the wealth gets so concentrated in just a few people while the rest of the population can’t keep a roof over their head and can’t eat food and can’t get medical care, all hell breaks loose. Galbraith, IMF economists, World Bank economists, all know what is going to happen do to our failure to police our own, our failure to make it right and our failure to make amends to our allies or would-be allies.

Children are learning an important lesson: in their world, Mom and Dad are powerless to prevent the worst things from happening and there is nobody else they can depend upon. A whole generation is growing up with the notion that the American Dream is an unknown, unknowable fantasy. Every time the far right asserts personal responsibility in the face of a wretched fraud committed on most of the country, they close the gate a little more, waiting for the final slaughter. Every time the far left wimps out on their own paltform, the one the people elected them on for CHANGE NOW, they deceive and abandon our citizens.

And so we are a Prozac nation because everyone is depressed. We are a Xanax nation because everyone is so stressed out we can’t think straight. And those of us who are entering our twilight years see a future where our children and grandchildren and their children will lead bleak lives of quiet desperation in a country which proclaims free speech and assembly but has surrendered that basic right to about 100 institutions that control the lobbyists who control the flow of money in Washington and state houses.

In April, 2007 stocks were up, confidence was high and everyone had been convinced that all was well without questioning anything. Meanwhile in the inner recesses of the Federal Reserve and halls of power of the executive branch and the U.S. Department of Treasury in particular, they knew the collapse was coming and the only reason they did nothing was political — they didn’t want to admit that the free market was not working, that it wasn’t free, that it was controlled by monopoly and oligopoly, and that the government wasn’t working either because we the people had allowed people to get re-elected despite their sell-out of our countries and our lives.

In I did some very simple calculations and determined that the DJIA was not actually worth 14,000, it was worth 8,000. As it came down, more stumps revealed themselves as the high water receded. The equities market is overpriced by about 25%-30%. Housing is still inflated by 15%-20%. Nobody wants to hear this. The dollar is in a swan dive because everyone in the world knows the reality except the citizens of the United States of America where we have a “free press” that would rather entertain us than actually tell us the news.

I’m doing my part. What are you doing to end this catastrophe?

Job Woes Exacting a Toll on Family Life
By MICHAEL LUO

THE WOODLANDS, Tex. — Paul Bachmuth’s 9-year-old daughter, Rebecca, began pulling out strands of her hair over the summer. His older child, Hannah, 12, has become noticeably angrier, more prone to throwing tantrums.

Initially, Mr. Bachmuth, 45, did not think his children were terribly affected when he lost his job nearly a year ago. But now he cannot ignore the mounting evidence.

“I’m starting to think it’s all my fault,” Mr. Bachmuth said.

As the months have worn on, his job search travails have consumed the family, even though the Bachmuths were outwardly holding up on unemployment benefits, their savings and the income from the part-time job held by Mr. Bachmuth’s wife, Amanda. But beneath the surface, they have been a family on the brink. They have watched their children struggle with behavioral issues and a stress-induced disorder. He finally got a job offer last week, but not before the couple began seeing a therapist to save their marriage.

For many families across the country, the greatest damage inflicted by this recession has not necessarily been financial, but emotional and psychological. Children, especially, have become hidden casualties, often absorbing more than their parents are fully aware of. Several academic studies have linked parental job loss — especially that of fathers — to adverse impacts in areas like school performance and self-esteem.

“I’ve heard a lot of people who are out of work say it’s kind of been a blessing, that you have more time to spend with your family,” Mr. Bachmuth said. “I love my family and my family comes first, and my family means more than anything to me, but it hasn’t been that way for me.”

A recent study at the University of California, Davis, found that children in families where the head of the household had lost a job were 15 percent more likely to repeat a grade. Ariel Kalil, a University of Chicago professor of public policy, and Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, of the Institute for Children and Poverty in New York, found in an earlier study that adolescent children of low-income single mothers who endured unemployment had an increased chance of dropping out of school and showed declines in emotional well-being.

In the long term, children whose parents were laid off have been found to have lower annual earnings as adults than those whose parents remained employed, a phenomenon Peter R. Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, mentioned in a speech last week at New York University.

A variety of studies have tied drops in family income to negative effects on children’s development. But Dr. Kalil, a developmental psychologist and director of the university’s Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, said the more important factor, especially in middle-class households, appeared to be changes in family dynamics from job loss.

“The extent that job losers are stressed and emotionally disengaged or withdrawn, this really matters for kids,” she said. “The other thing that matters is parental conflict. That has been shown repeatedly in psychological studies to be a bad family dynamic.”

Dr. Kalil said her research indicated that the repercussions were more pronounced in children when fathers experience unemployment, rather than mothers.

She theorized that the reasons have to do with the importance of working to the male self-image, or the extra time that unemployed female breadwinners seem to spend with their children, mitigating the impact on them.

Certainly, some of the more than a dozen families interviewed that were dealing with long-term unemployment said the period had been helpful in certain ways for their families.

Denise Stoll, 39, and her husband, Larry, 47, both lost their positions at a bank in San Antonio in October 2008 when it changed hands. Mrs. Stoll, a vice president who managed a technology group, earned significantly more than her husband, who worked as a district loan origination manager.

Nevertheless, Mr. Stoll took unemployment much harder than she did and struggled to keep his spirits up, before he landed a new job within several months in the Kansas City area, where the family had moved to be closer to relatives. He had to take a sizable pay cut but was grateful to be working again.

Mrs. Stoll is still looking but has also tried to make the most of the additional time with the couple’s 5-year-old triplets, seeking to instill new lessons on the importance of thrift.

“Being a corporate mom, you work a lot of hours, you feed them dinner — maybe,” she said. “This morning, we baked cookies together. I have time to help them with homework. I’m attending church. The house is managed by me. Just a lot more homemaker-type stuff, which I think is more nurturing to them.”

Other families, however, reported unmistakable ill effects.

Robert Syck, 42, of Fishers, Ind., lost his job as a call-center manager in March. He has been around his 11-year-old stepson, Kody, more than ever before. Lately, however, their relationship has become increasingly strained, Mr. Syck said, with even little incidents setting off blowups. His stepson’s grades have slipped and the boy has been talking back to his parents more.

“It’s only been particularly in the last few months that it’s gotten really bad, to where we’re verbally chewing each other out,” said Mr. Syck, who admitted he had been more irritable around the house. “A lot of that is due to the pressures of unemployment.”

When Mr. Bachmuth was first laid off in December from his $120,000 job at an energy consulting firm, he could not even bring himself to tell his family. For several days, he got dressed in the morning and left the house as usual at 6 a.m., but spent the day in coffee shops, the library or just walking around.

Mr. Bachmuth had started the job, working on finance and business development for electric utilities, eight months earlier, moving his family from Austin. They bought something of a dream home, complete with a backyard pool and spa.

Although she knew the economy was ultimately to blame, Mrs. Bachmuth could not help feeling angry at her husband, both said later in interviews.

“She kind of had something in the back of her mind that it was partly my fault I was laid off,” Mr. Bachmuth said. “Maybe you’re not a good enough worker.”

Counseling improved matters significantly, but Mrs. Bachmuth still occasionally dissolved into tears at home.

Besides quarrels over money, the reversal in the couple’s roles also produced friction. Mrs. Bachmuth took on a part-time job at a preschool to earn extra money. But she still did most, if not all, of the cooking, cleaning and laundry.

Dr. Kalil, of the University of Chicago, said a recent study of how people spend their time showed unemployed fathers devote significantly less time to household chores than even mothers who are employed full-time, and do not work as hard in caring for children.

Mr. Bachmuth’s time with his girls, however, did increase. He was the one dropping off Rebecca at school and usually the one who picked her up. He began helping her more with homework. He and Hannah played soccer and chatted more.

But the additional time brought more opportunities for squabbling. The rest of the family had to get used to Mr. Bachmuth being around, sometimes focused on his search for a job, but other times lounging around depressed, watching television or surfing soccer sites on the Internet.

“My dad’s around a lot more, so it’s a little strange because he gets frustrated he’s not at work, and he’s not being challenged,” Hannah said. “So I think me and my dad are a lot closer now because we can spend a lot more time together, but we fight a lot more maybe because he’s around 24-7.”

When Rebecca began pulling her hair out in late summer in what was diagnosed as a stress-induced disorder, she insisted it was because she was bored. But her parents and her therapist — the same one seeing her parents — believed it was clearly related to the job situation.

The hair pulling has since stopped, but she continues to fidget with her brown locks.

The other day, she suddenly asked her mother whether she thought she would be able to find a “good job” when she grew up.

Hannah said her father’s unemployment had made it harder for her to focus on schoolwork. She also conceded she had been more easily annoyed with her parents and her sister.

At night, she said, she has taken to stowing her worries away in an imaginary box.

“I take all the stress and bad things that happen over the day, and I lock them in a box,” she said.

Then, she tries to sleep.

Your tags: Eviction, foreclosure

Other Tags: conservatives, DJIA, IMF, Prozac, U.S Department of Treasury, World Bank, Xanax, bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, currency, GTC | Honor, Investor, Mortgage, securities fraud

Published: November 12, 2009 6:04 pm
Livinglies’s Weblog, Eviction, foreclosure

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“Officials” Who Sign for MERS: False, Fraudulent, Fabricated, Forged and Void Documents in the Chain

Posted 3 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

all we have left is the obligation, unsecured and subject to counterclaims etc. MOST IMPORTANT procedurally, it requires a lawsuit by the would-be forecloser in order to establish the terms of the obligation and the security, if any. This means they must make allegations as to ownership of the receivable and prove it — the kiss of death for all would be lenders except investors who funded these transactions.

sirrowan
sirrowan@peoplepc.com

“I just thought of something. I was reading what was posted a few above me regarding MERS own rules. They claim that their “officers” tend to act without authority from MERS and they do not use any records held by MERS etc.

How can this be? How can they be officers then? They aren’t if you ask me. Now wonder all these judges are telling them they are nothing but agents if even that, lol.

But if they were officers, wouldn’t MERS be liable for the actions of their “officers” on behalf of MERS?”

ANSWER from Neil

Sirrowan: GREAT POINT! The answer is that if they have a user ID and password ANYONE can become a “limited signing officer” for MERS.

Sometimes they say they are vice-president, sometimes they use some other official title. But the fact remains that they have no connection with MERS, no employment with MERS, no access to MERS records, and definitely no direct grant of a POA (Power of attorney). It’s a game.

This is why I have repeatedly say that in every securitized chain, particularly in the case of a MERS chain, there are one or more documents that are fabricated, forged or voidable. Whether this rises the level of criminality is up to future courts to determine.

One thing is sure — a party who signs a document that has no authority to sign it in the capacity they are representing has just committed violations of federal and state statute and common law. And the Notary who knew the party was not authorized as represented has committed a violation as well. Most states have statutes that say a bad notarization renders the document void, even if it was recorded. This breaks the chain of title and reverts back to the originating lender (at best) or voids the documents in the originating transaction (at worst).

In either event, the distinction I draw between the obligation (the substance of the transaction caused by the funding of a “loan product”) and the note (which by law is ONLY EVIDENCE of the obligation and the mortgage which is ONLY incident to the note, becomes very important. If the documents (note and mortgage) are void then all we have left is the obligation, unsecured and subject to counterclaims etc. MOST IMPORTANT procedurally, it requires a lawsuit by the would-be forecloser in order to establish the terms of the obligation and the security, if any. This means they must make allegations as to ownership of the receivable and prove it — the kiss of death for all would be lenders except investors who funded these transactions.

Your tags: Eviction, foreclosure

Other Tags: chain of title, disclosure, evidence, foreclosure defense, foreclosure offense, fraud, investors, lenders, MERS, Obligation, securitization, Signatures, trustee, bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, currency, GTC | Honor, Investor, Mortgage, securities fraud

Published: November 10, 2009 3:10 pm
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What to Look For and Demand Through QWR or Discovery Part II

Posted 4 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

Dan Edstrom, you are great!

OK I found the loan level details for my deal. It shows my loan in foreclosure and my last payment in 6/2008 (which is accurate). What it doesn’t say (among other things) is what advances were made on the account. Very interesting. This report is generated monthly but they are only reporting the current month. It also shows which pool my loan is in (originally their were approx. 4 pools, now there are 2). This means I can use all of this information to possibly calculate the advances reported – except that two months before I missed my first payment they stopped reporting SUB-servicer advances. [Editor’s Note: Those who are computer savvy will recognize that these are field names, which is something that should be included in your demand and in your QWR. You will also wanat the record data and metadata that is attached to each record. ]

DIST_DATE
SERIES_NAME
LOAN_NUM
POOL_NUM
DEAL_NUM LTV_DISCLOSED_PCT CLTV_PCT CREDIT_SCORE_NBR BACK_END_DTI_PCT
JUNIOR_RATIO LOAN_DOC_TYPE_DSCR LOAN_PURPOSE_TYPE_DSCR OCCUPANCY_TYPE PROPERTY_TYPE_DSCR LIEN_PRIORITY_DSCR STANDALONE_IND SILENT_SECOND_IND PROPERTY_STATE CONFORMING_BAL_IND INT_RATE_TYPE_DSCR MARGIN_GROSS_PCT
PMT_1ST_DATE INT_CHG_FREQ_MTH_QTY INT_CHG_PRD_INCR_CEIL_RATE INT_LIFE_CEIL_RATE INT_LIFE_FLOOR_RATE INT_ONLY_TERM_MTH_QTY INT_CHG_1ST_MTH INT_CHG_FREQ_DSCR INT_CHG_MTH_DIFF_QTY MORTAGE_INSURANCE_PROVIDER MORTAGE_INSURANCE_TYPE_DSCR MATURITY_DATE
NOTE_DATE
PRIN_ORIG_BAL
SOLD_BAL
TERM_ORIG_MTH_QTY PREPMT_PENALTY_TERM_MTH_QTY BORROWER_RESIDUAL_INCOME_AMT RFC_GRADE_CODE PRODUCT_GROUP_FALLOUT_DSCR MI_TYPE_DSCR INDEX_TYPE_CODE INDEX_TYPE_DSCR MLY_CURTAILMENT_AMT MLY_DRAW_GROSS_AMT MLY_COUPON_NET_RATE MLY_COUPON_GROSS_RATE MLY_PRIN_UNPAID_BAL MLY_PRIN_SCHED_BAL LOAN_AGE MLY_TERM_REMAIN_MTH_QTY MLY_UTILIZATION_PCT MLY_DELQ_REPORT_METHOD MLY_LOAN_STATUS_CODE MLY_LOAN_STATUS_DSCR MLY_PREPMT_TYPE_DSCR MLY_PAID_TO_DATE

If anyone wants this file or any of the servicing reports so they can see the actual data shoot me an email.

Thanks,
Dan Edstrom
dmedstrom@hotmail.com

Your tags: Eviction, foreclosure

Other Tags: accounting, disclosure, discovery, Edstrom, foreclosure defense, foreclosure offense, fraud, lost note, Mortgage, quiet title, QWR, TILA audit, trustee, bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, currency, GTC | Honor, Investor, securities fraud

Published: November 9, 2009 6:24 pm
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TENT CITY, California While Vacant Houses Deteriorate

Posted 4 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

TENT CITY, California While Vacant Houses Deteriorate

From watergatesummer.blogspot.com we have this post on the moronic ideology that misuses our natural and creative resources. It can be said that conservatives do not conserve and liberals do not liberate. I coined that because it is obvious that politics in this country is degrading even while some try to revive it.

Out of pure ideology and ignorance, people are being ejected from homes they own on the pretense that they don’t own the home. This sleight of hand is accomplished by “bridge to nowhere” logic — the pretender lender merely pretends to be authorized to initiate foreclosure proceedings. They come into court with a pile of inconsistent documents with little or no REAL connection with the originating papers and zero connection with the REAL lender.

So we end up with hundreds of thousands of homes that are empty, subject to vandalism and decay from lack of mainteance and lack of anyone living in them, combined with nobody paying utility bills etc that would help take the edge off the crisis. Instead, we choose to allow TENT CITY where there are no decent facilities, where people are living in tents literally, resulting in a greater drain on social services, police, fire, health, schools etc.

Why because some ideologue and people who mindlessly subscribe to such ideology has already played Judge and Jury and convicted these victims of Wall Street fraud. They are certain that these are deadbeats that don’t pay thier bills and won’t listen when someone points out that many of these people had nearly perfect credit scores before tragedy hit. That means the victims were generally considered to have been better credit risks based upon an excellent record of paying their bills, than their ideological detractors.

Someone of this ideology will tell us or anyone who will listen that the victims should have read what they were signing. The is fact that NOBODY reads those closing documents, not even lawyers, not even the ideological (don’t confuse me with the facts) conservatives. So the same people who say you should have read those documents, didn’t read their own.

And now everyone who is NOT in foreclosure or who has already lost possession of their home and who signed a securitized loan package is “underwater” an average of 25% , which means that they are, on average around $70,000 in debt that will never be covered by equity in their lifetime — so they can’t move without coming to the table with the shortfall.

Such ideologues fall short of helping their fellow citizens to be sure. What is astonishing is that they fall short of helping themselves, which means they subject their life partners, spouses, children and other dependents to the same mindless mind-numbing shoot myself in the foot political theology. And somehow it is THESE people who are controlling the pace of the recovery, controlling the correction in housing and social services who are claiming to be angry about their country being taken away from them!

Your tags: Eviction, foreclosure

Other Tags: bailout, housing, lender, POLICY, securitization, tent city, CDO, CORRUPTION, GTC | Honor, Mortgage, securities fraud

Published: November 9, 2009 6:15 pm
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U.S. STANDS FIRM IN SUPPORT OF WALL STREET WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD TAKES THE ECONOMIC CRISIS SERIOUSLY

Posted 5 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

MR. GEITNER, MR. SUMMERS AND OTHERS WHO ARE ON THE ECONOMIC TEAM DESERVE some CREDIT FOR BRINGING US BACK FROM AN ECONOMIC PRECIPICE THAT WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN A DEPRESSION FAR DEEPER AND LONGER THAN THE GREAT DEPRESSION. AND THEY SHOULD BE CUT SOME SLACK BECAUSE THEY WERE HANDED A PLATE ON WHICH THE ECONOMY WAS BASED LARGELY ON VAPOR — THE CONTRACTION OF WHICH WILL SPELL DISASTER IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.
THAT SAID, THEY ARE GOING TOO FAR IN PROTECTING INVESTMENT BANKS AND DEPOSITORY BANKS FROM THEIR OWN STUPIDITY AND ENCOURAGING BEHAVIOR THAT THE TAXPAYERS WILL ABSORB — AT LEAST THEY THINK THE TAXPAYERS WILL DO IT.
As the following article demonstrates, the model currently used in this country and dozens of other countries is “pay to play” — and if there is a crash it is the fees the banks paid over the years that bails them out instead of the taxpayers.
For reasons that I don’t think are very good, the economic team is marginalizing Volcker and headed down the same brainless path we were on when Bush was in office, which was only an expansion of what happened when Clinton was in office, which was a “me too” based upon Bush #1 and Reagan. The end result is no longer subject to conjecture — endless crashes, each worse than the one before.
The intransigence of Wall Street and the economic team toward any meaningful financial reform adds salt to the wound we created in the first palce. We were fortunate that the rest of the world did not view the economic meltdown as an act of war by the United States. They are inviting us to be part of the solution and we insist on being part of the problem.
Sooner or later, the world’s patience is going to wear thin. Has anyone actually digested the fact that there is buyer’s run on gold now? Does anyone care that the value of the dollar is going down which means that those countries, companies and individuals who keep their wealth in dollars are dumping those dollars in favor of diversifying into other units of storage?
The short-term “advantage” will be more than offset by the continuing joblessness and homelessness unless we take these things seriously. Culturally, we are looking increasingly barbaric to dozens of countries that take their role of protecting the common welfare seriously.
Bottom Line on these pages is that it shouldn’t be so hard to get a judge to realize that just because the would-be forecloser has a big expensive brand name doesn’t mean they are anything better than common thieves. But like all theft in this country, the bigger you are the more wiggle room you get when you rob the homeless or a bank or the government or the taxpayers. Marcy Kaptur is right. She calls for a change of “generals” (likening Obama’s situation to Lincoln), since their skills were perhaps valuable when Obama first tackled the economic crisis — but now are counterproductive. We need new generals on the economic team that will steer us clear from the NEXT crisis not the LAST crisis.

November 8, 2009
Britain and U.S. Clash at G-20 on Tax to Insure Against Crises
By JULIA WERDIGIER

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — The United States and Britain voiced disagreement Saturday over a proposal that would impose a new tax on financial transactions to support future bank rescues.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, leading a meeting here of finance ministers from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries, said such a tax on banks should be considered as a way to take the burden off taxpayers during periods of financial crisis. His comments pre-empted the International Monetary Fund, which is set to present a range of options next spring to ensure financial stability.

But the proposal was met with little enthusiasm by the United States Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, who told Sky News in an interview that he would not support a tax on everyday financial transactions. Later he seemed to soften his position, saying it would be up to the I.M.F. to present a range of possible measures.

“We want to make sure that we don’t put the taxpayer in a position of having to absorb the costs of a crisis in the future,” Mr. Geithner said after the Sky News interview. “I’m sure the I.M.F. will come up with some proposals.”

The Russian finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, also said he was skeptical of such a tax. Similar fees had been proposed by Germany and France but rejected by Mr. Brown’s government in the past as too difficult to manage. But Mr. Brown is now suggesting “an insurance fee to reflect systemic risk or a resolution fund or contingent capital arrangements or a global financial transaction levy.”

Supporters of a tax had argued that it would reduce the volatility of markets; opponents said it would be too complex to enact across borders and could create huge imbalances. Mr. Brown said any such tax would have to be applied universally.

“It cannot be acceptable that the benefits of success in this sector are reaped by the few but the costs of its failure are borne by all of us,” Mr. Brown said at the summit. “There must be a better economic and social contract between financial institutions and the public based on trust and a just distribution of risks and rewards.”

At the meeting at the Scottish golf resort, the last to be hosted by Britain during its turn leading the group, the ministers agreed on a detailed timetable to achieve balanced economic growth and reiterated a pledge not to withdraw any economic stimulus until a recovery was certain.

They also committed to enact limits on bonuses and force banks to hold more cash reserves. But they failed to reach an agreement on how to finance a new climate change deal ahead of a crucial meeting in Copenhagen next month.

The finance ministers agreed that economic and financial conditions had improved but that the recovery was “uneven and remains dependent on policy support,” according to a statement released by the group. The weak condition of the economy was illustrated Friday by new data showing the unemployment rate in the United States rising to 10.2 percent in October, the highest level in 26 years.

The finance ministers also acknowledged that withdrawing stimulus packages required a balancing act to avoid stifling the economic recovery that has just begun.

“If we put the brakes on too quickly, we will weaken the economy and the financial system, unemployment will rise, more businesses will fail, budget deficits will rise, and the ultimate cost of the crisis will be greater,” Mr. Geithner said. “It is too early to start to lean against recovery.”

As part of the group’s global recovery plan, the United States would aim to increase its savings rate and reduce its trade deficit while countries like China and Germany would reduce their dependence on exports. Economic imbalances were widely faulted as helping to bring about the global economic downturn.

Mr. Geithner acknowledged on Saturday that the changes would take time but that “what we are seeing so far has been encouraging.”

Your tags: Eviction, foreclosure

Other Tags: bailout, credit, economic team, financial reform, foreclosures, Geitner, Summers, Volker, bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, currency, GTC | Honor, Investor, Mortgage, securities fraud

Published: November 8, 2009 6:55 pm
Livinglies’s Weblog, Eviction, foreclosure

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I’m OK. Thanks for asking

Posted 6 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog
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FOLLOWING THE MONEY — WHAT TO ASK FOR AND LOOK FOR

Posted 6 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog
Livinglies’s Weblog, Eviction, foreclosure

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Why “too big to fail” has to be dealt with this time

Posted 6 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog
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AIG Reports Profits Increase — More Smoke and Mirrors

Posted 7 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog
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Foreclosure Defense: New York Judge Gets It HSBC v Valentin N.Y. Sup., 2008

Posted 7 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog
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Another Bad case for MERS Mortgage Electronic Ripoff System !

19 Sep

Kansas Landmark Decision Annotated 1

Posted 2 days ago by livinglies on Livinglies’s Weblog

1st Annotation of Landmark v. Kesler:
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF KANSAS
No. 98,489
LANDMARK NATIONAL BANK,
Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
BOYD A. KESLER
Appellee/Cross-appellant
MILLENNIA MORTGAGE CORPORATION,
Defendant,
(MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC. AND SOVEREIGN BANK),
Appellants/Cross-appellees,
and
DENNIS BRISTOW AND TONY WOYDZIAK,
Intervenors/Appellees.
filed August 28, 2009

“The second mortgage lies at the core of this appeal. That mortgage document stated that the mortgage was made between Kesler–the “Mortgagor” and “Borrower”–and MERS, which was acting “solely as nominee for Lender, as hereinafter defined, and Lender’s successors and assigns.” The document then identified Millennia as the “Lender.” At some subsequent time, the mortgage may have been assigned to Sovereign and Sovereign may have taken physical possession of the note, but that assignment was not registered in Ford County.”
Editor’s Note: At the very start, the Court correctly sets the stage pointing out that the lender was Millenia but MERS was named on the mortgage, thus splitting the note from the mortgage. The Court later points out:

“What meaning is this court to attach to MERS’s designation as nominee for Millennia? The parties appear to have defined the word in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant–their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time…A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee….

“The practical effect of splitting the deed of trust from the promissory note is to make it impossible for the holder of the note to foreclose, unless the holder of the deed of trust is the agent of the holder of the note. [Citation omitted.] Without the agency relationship, the person holding only the note lacks the power to foreclose in the event of default. The person holding only the deed of trust will never experience default because only the holder of the note is entitled to payment of the underlying obligation. [Citation omitted.] The mortgage loan becomes ineffectual when the note holder did not also hold the deed of trust.” Bellistri v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 284 S.W.3d 619, 623 (Mo. App. 2009).

“it was incumbent on the trial court, when ruling on the motion to set aside default judgment, to consider whether MERS would have had a meritorious defense if it had been named as a defendant and whether there was some reasonable possibility MERS would have enjoyed a different outcome from the trial if its participation had precluded default judgment….A person is contingently necessary if (1) complete relief cannot be accorded in his absence among those already parties, or (2) he claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and he is so situated that the disposition of the action in his absence may (i) as a practical matter substantially impair or impede his ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of his claimed interest…..MERS is a private corporation that administers the MERS System, a national electronic registry that tracks the transfer of ownership interests and servicing rights in mortgage loans. Through the MERS System, MERS becomes the mortgagee of record for participating members through assignment of the members’ interests to MERS. MERS is listed as the grantee in the official records maintained at county register of deeds offices. The lenders retain the promissory notes, as well as the servicing rights to the mortgages. The lenders can then sell these interests to investors without having to record the transaction in the public record. MERS is compensated for its services through fees charged to participating MERS members.” Mortgage Elec. Reg. Sys., Inc. v. Nebraska Depart. of Banking, 270 Neb. 529, 530, 704 N.W.2d 784 (2005)….”

SB 94 and its interferance with the practice

5 Sep

CA SB 94 on Lawyers & Loan Modifications Passes Assembly… 62-10

The California Assembly has passed Senate Bill 94, a bill that seeks to protect homeowners from loan modification scammers, but could end up having the unintended consequence of eliminating a homeowner’s ability to retain an attorney to help them save their home from foreclosure.

The bill, which has an “urgency clause” attached to it, now must pass the State Senate, and if passed, could be signed by the Governor on October 11th, and go into effect immediately thereafter.

SB 94’s author is California State Senator Ron Calderon, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the bigger picture. Sen. Calderon, while acknowledging that fee-for-service providers can provide valuable services to homeowners at risk of foreclosure, authored SB 94 to ensure that providers of these services are not compensated until the contracted services have been performed.

SB 94 prevents companies, individuals… and even attorneys… from receiving fees or any other form of compensation until after the contracted services have been rendered. The bill will now go to the Democratic controlled Senate where it is expected to pass.

Supporters of the bill say that the state is literally teeming with con artists who take advantage of homeowners desperate to save their homes from foreclosure by charging hefty fees up front and then failing to deliver anything of value in return. They say that by making it illegal to charge up front fees, they will be protecting consumers from being scammed.

While there’s no question that there have been some unscrupulous people that have taken advantage of homeowners in distress, the number of these scammers is unclear. Now that we’ve learned that lenders and servicers have only modified an average of 9% of qualified mortgages under the Obama plan, it’s hard to tell which companies were scamming and which were made to look like scams by the servicers and lenders who failed to live up to their agreement with the federal government.

In fact, ever since it’s come to light that mortgage servicers have been sued hundreds of times, that they continue to violate the HAMP provisions, that they foreclose when they’re not supposed to, charge up front fees for modifications, require homeowners to sign waivers, and so much more, who can be sure who the scammers really are. Bank of America, for example, got the worst grade of any bank on the President’s report card listing, modifying only 4% of the eligible mortgages since the plan began. We’ve given B of A something like $200 billion and they still claim that they’re having a hard time answering the phones over there, so who’s scamming who?

To make matters worse, and in the spirit of Y2K, the media has fanned the flames of irrationality with stories of people losing their homes as a result of someone failing to get their loan modified. The stories go something like this:

We gave them 1,000. They told us to stop making our mortgage payment. They promised us a principal reduction. We didn’t hear from them for months. And then we lost our house.

I am so sure. Can that even happen? I own a house or two. Walk me through how that happened again, because I absolutely guarantee you… no way could those things happen to me and I end up losing my house over it. Not a chance in the world. I’m not saying I couldn’t lose a house, but it sure as heck would take a damn sight more than that to make it happen.

Depending on how you read the language in the bill, it may prevent licensed California attorneys from requiring a retainer in advance of services being rendered, and this could essentially eliminate a homeowner’s ability to hire a lawyer to help save their home.

Supporters, on the other hand, respond that homeowners will still be able to hire attorneys, but that the attorneys will now have to wait until after services have been rendered before being paid for their services. They say that attorneys, just like real estate agents and mortgage brokers, will now only be able to receive compensation after services have been rendered.

But, assuming they’re talking about at the end of the transaction, there are key differences. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are paid OUT OF ESCROW at the end of a transaction. They don’t send clients a bill for their services after the property is sold.

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure are having trouble paying their bills and for the most part, their credit ratings have suffered as a result. If an attorney were to represent a homeowner seeking a loan modification, and then bill for his or her services after the loan was modified, the attorney would be nothing more than an unsecured creditor of a homeowner who’s only marginally credit worthy at best. If the homeowner didn’t pay the bill, the attorney would have no recourse other than to sue the homeowner in Small Claims Court where they would likely receive small payments over time if lucky.

Extending unsecured credit to homeowners that are already struggling to pay their bills, and then having to sue them in order to collect simply isn’t a business model that attorneys, or anyone else for that matter, are likely to embrace. In fact, the more than 50 California attorneys involved in loan modifications that I contacted to ask about this issue all confirmed that they would not represent homeowners on that basis.

One attorney, who asked not to be identified, said: “Getting a lender or servicer to agree to a loan modification takes months, sometimes six or nine months. If I worked on behalf of homeowners for six or nine months and then didn’t get paid by a number of them, it wouldn’t be very long before I’d have to close my doors. No lawyer is going to do that kind of work without any security and anyone who thinks they will, simply isn’t familiar with what’s involved.”

“I don’t think there’s any question that SB 94 will make it almost impossible for a homeowner to obtain legal representation related to loan modifications,” explained another attorney who also asked not to be identified. ”The banks have fought lawyers helping clients through the loan modification process every step of the way, so I’m not surprised they’ve pushed for this legislation to pass.”

Proponents of the legislation recite the all too familiar mantra about there being so many scammers out there that the state has no choice but to move to shut down any one offering to help homeowners secure loan modifications that charges a fee for the services. They point out that consumers can just call their banks directly, or that there are nonprofit organizations throughout the state that can help homeowners with loan modifications.

While the latter is certainly true, it’s only further evidence that there exists a group of people in positions of influence that are unfamiliar , or at the very least not adequately familiar with obtaining a loan modification through a nonprofit organization, and they’ve certainly never tried calling a bank directly.

The fact that there are nonprofit housing counselors available, and the degree to which they may or may not be able to assist a given homeowner, is irrelevant. Homeowners are well aware of the nonprofit options available. They are also aware that they can call their banks directly. From the President of the United States and and U.S. Attorney General to the community newspapers found in every small town in America, homeowners have heard the fairy tales about about these options, and they’ve tried them… over and over again, often times for many months. When they didn’t get the desired results, they hired a firm to help them.

Yet, even the State Bar of California is supporting SB 94, and even AB 764, a California Assembly variation on the theme, and one even more draconian because of its requirement that attorneys only be allowed to bill a client after a successful loan modification has been obtained. That means that an attorney would have to guarantee a homeowner that he or she would obtain a modification agreement from a lender or servicer or not get paid for trying. Absurd on so many levels. Frankly, if AB 764 passes, would the last one out of California please turn off the lights and bring the flag.

As of late July, the California State Bar said it was investigating 391 complaints against 141 attorneys, as opposed to nine investigations related to loan modifications in 2008. The Bar hasn’t read anywhere all of the complaints its received, but you don’t have to be a statistician to figure out that there’s more to the complaints that meets the eye. So far the State Bar has taken action against three attorneys and the Attorney General another four… so, let’s see… carry the 3… that’s 7 lawyers. Two or three more and they could have a softball team.

At the federal level they’re still reporting the same numbers they were last spring. Closed 11… sent 71 letters… blah, blah, blah… we’ve got a country of 300 million and at least 5 million are in trouble on their mortgage. The simple fact is, they’re going to have to come up with some serious numbers before I’m going to be scared of bumping into a scammer on every corner.

Looking Ahead…

California’s ALT-A and Option ARM mortgages are just beginning to re-set, causing payments to rise, and with almost half of the mortgages in California already underwater, these homeowners will be unable to refinance and foreclosures will increase as a result. Prime jumbo foreclosure rates are already up a mind blowing 634% as compared with January 2008 levels, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

Clearly, if SB 94 ends up reducing the number of legitimate firms available for homeowners to turn to, everyone involved in its passage is going to be retiring. While many sub-prime borrowers have suffered silently through this horror show of a housing crisis, the ALT-A and Option ARM borrowers are highly unlikely to slip quietly into the night.

There are a couple of things about the latest version of SB 94 that I found interesting:

1. It says that a lawyer can’t collect a fee or any other compensation before serivces have been delivered, but it doesn’t make clear whether attorneys can ask the client to deposit funds in the law firm’s trust account and then bill against thsoe funds as amounts are earned. Funds deposited in a law firm trust account remain the client’s funds, so they’re not a lawyer’s “fees or other compensation”. Those funds are there so that when the fees have been earned, the lawyer doesn’t have to hope his or her bill gets paid. Of course, it also says that an attorney can’t hold any security interest, but money in a trust account a client’s money, the attorney has no lien against it. All of this is a matter of interpretation, of course, so who knows.

2. While there used to be language in both the real estate and lawyer sections that prohibited breaking up services related to a loan modification, in the latest version all of the language related to breaking up services as applied to attorneys has been eliminated. It still applies to real estate licensed firms, but not to attorneys. This may be a good thing, as at least a lawyer could complete sections of the work involved as opposed to having to wait until the very end, which the way the banks have been handling things, could be nine months away.

3. The bill says nothing about the amounts that may be charged for services in connection with a loan modification. So, in the case of an attorney, that would seem to mean that… well, you can put one, two and three together from there.

4. Lawyers are not included in definition of foreclosure consultant. And there is a requirement that new language be inserted in contracts, along the lines of “You don’t have to pay anyone to get a loan modification… blah, blah, blah.” Like that will be news to any homeowner in America. I’ve spoken with hundreds and never ran across one who didn’t try it themselves before calling a lawyer. I realize the Attorney General doesn’t seem to know that, but look… he’s been busy.

Conclusion…

Will SB 94 actually stop con artists from taking advantage of homeowners in distress? Or will it end up only stopping reputable lawyers from helping homeowners, while foreclosures increase and our economy continues its deflationary free fall? Will the California State Bar ever finishing reading the complaints being received, and if they ever do, will they understand what they’ve read. Or is our destiny that the masses won’t understand what’s happening around them until it sucks them under as well.

I surely hope not. But for now, I’m just hoping people can still a hire an attorney next week to help save their homes, because if they can’t… the Bar is going to get a lot more letters from unhappy homeowners.

Don't get HAMP ED out of your home!

5 Sep

By Walter Hackett, Esq.
The federal government has trumpeted its Home Affordable Modification Program or “HAMP” solution as THE solution to runaway foreclosures – few things could be further from the truth. Under HAMP a homeowner will be offered a “workout” that can result in the homeowner being “worked out” of his or her home. Here’s how it works. A participating lender or servicer will send a distressed homeowner a HAMP workout agreement. The agreement consists of an “offer” pursuant to which the homeowner is permitted to remit partial or half of their regular monthly payments for 3 or more months. The required payments are NOT reduced, instead the partial payments are placed into a suspense account. In many cases once enough is gathered to pay the oldest payment due the funds are removed from the suspense account and applied to the mortgage loan. At the end of the trial period the homeowner will be further behind than when they started the “workout” plan.
In California, the agreements clearly specify the acceptance of partial payments by the lender or servicer does NOT cure any default. Further, the fact a homeowner is in the workout program does NOT require the lender or servicer to suspend or postpone any non-judicial foreclosure activity with the possible exception of an actual trustee’s sale. A homeowner could complete the workout plan and be faced with an imminent trustee’s sale. Worse, if a homeowner performs EXACTLY as required by the workout agreement, they are NOT assured a loan modification. Instead the agreement will include vague statements that the homeowner MAY receive an offer to modify his or her loan however there is NO duty on the part of the servicer or lender to modify a loan regardless of the homeowner’s compliance with the agreement.

A homeowner who fully performs under a HAMP workout is all but guaranteed to have given away thousands of dollars with NO assurance of keeping his or her home or ever seeing anything resembling an offer to modify a mortgage loan.
While it may well be the case the government was making an honest effort to help, the reality is the HAMP program is only guaranteed to help those who need help least – lenders and servicers. If you receive ANY written offer to modify your loan meet with a REAL licensed attorney and ask them to review the agreement to determine what you are REALLY agreeing to, the home you save might be your own.

A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style

2 Sep

By Michael Powell – NY Times – 8/30/09

The judge waves you into his chambers in the State Supreme Court building in Brooklyn, past the caveat taped to his wall — “Be sure brain in gear before engaging mouth” — and into his inner office, where foreclosure motions are piled high enough to form a minor Alpine chain.

“I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate,” Justice Arthur M. Schack said.

Every week, the nation’s mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors.

He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner.

The judge’s lips pucker as if he had inhaled a pickle; he rejected this one. “I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors.”

The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. While national debate focuses on bank bailouts and federal aid for homeowners that has been slow in coming, the hard reckonings of the foreclosure crisis are being made in courts like his, and Justice Schack’s sympathies are clear. He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model.

His opinions, too, have been greeted by a cry of affront from a bank official or two, who say this judge stands in the way of what is rightfully theirs. HSBC bank appealed a recent ruling, saying he had set a “dangerous precedent” by acting as “both judge and jury,” throwing out cases even when homeowners had not responded to foreclosure motions. Justice Schack, like a handful of state and federal judges, has taken a magnifying glass to the mortgage industry. In the gilded haste of the past decade, bankers handed out millions of mortgages — with terms good, bad and exotically ugly — then repackaged those loans for sale to investors from Connecticut to Singapore. Sloppiness reigned. So many papers have been lost, signatures misplaced and documents dated inaccurately that it is often not clear which bank owns the mortgage.

Justice Schack’s take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose. “If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct,” he said. “I’m a strange guy — I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate.”

Justice Schack has small jowls and big black glasses, a thin mustache and not so many hairs combed across his scalp. He has the impish eyes of the high school social studies teacher he once was, aware that something untoward is probably going on at the back of his classroom. He is Brooklyn born and bred, with a master’s degree in history and an office loaded with autographed baseballs and photographs of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His written decisions are a free-associative trip through popular, legal and literary culture, with a sideways glance at the business pages.

Confronted with a case in which Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs passed a defaulted mortgage back and forth and lost track of the documents, the judge made reference to the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the evil banker played by Lionel Barrymore. “Lenders should not lose sight,” Justice Schack wrote in that 2007 case, “that they are dealing with humanity, not with Mr. Potter’s ‘rabble’ and ‘cattle.’ Multibillion-dollar corporations must follow the same rules in the foreclosure actions as the local banks, savings and loan associations or credit unions, or else they have become the Mr. Potters of the 21st century.”

Last year, he chastised Wells Fargo for filing error-filled papers. “The court,” the judge wrote, “reminds Wells Fargo of Cassius’s advice to Brutus in Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ ”

Then there is a Deutsche Bank case from 2008, the juicy part of which he reads aloud:

“The court wonders if the instant foreclosure action is a corporate ‘Kansas City Shuffle,’ a complex confidence game,” he reads. “In the 2006 film ‘Lucky Number Slevin,’ Mr. Goodkat, a hit man played by Bruce Willis, explains: ‘A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left.’ ”The banks’ reaction? Justice Schack shrugs. “They probably curse at me,” he says, “but no one is interested in some little judge.”

Little drama attends the release of his decisions. Beaten-down homeowners rarely show up to contest foreclosure actions, and the judge scrutinizes the banks’ papers in his chambers. But at legal conferences, judges and lawyers have wondered aloud why more judges do not hold banks to tougher standards.

“To the extent that judges examine these papers, they find exactly the same errors that Judge Schack does,” said Katherine M. Porter, a visiting professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a national expert in consumer credit law. “His rulings are hardly revolutionary; it’s unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules.”

Banks and the cottage industry of mortgage service companies and foreclosure lawyers also pay rather close attention. A spokeswoman for OneWest Bank acknowledged that an official, confronted with a ream of foreclosure papers, had mistakenly signed for two different banks — just as the Deutsche Bank official did. Deutsche Bank, which declined to let an attorney speak on the record about any of its cases before Justice Schack, e-mailed a PDF of a three-page pamphlet in which it claimed little responsibility for foreclosures, even though the bank’s name is affixed to tens of thousands of such motions. The bank described itself as simply a trustee for investors.

Justice Schack came to his recent prominence by a circuitous path, having worked for 14 years as public school teacher in Brooklyn. He was a union representative and once walked a picket line with his wife, Dilia, who was a teacher, too. All was well until the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

“Why’d I go to law school?” he said. “Thank Mayor Abe Beame, who froze teacher salaries.”

He was counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association in the 1980s and ’90s, when it was on a long winning streak against team owners. “It was the millionaires versus the billionaires,” he says. “After a while, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘He’s making $4 million, he’s making $5 million, and I’m worth about $1.98.’ ”

So he dived into a judicial race. He was elected to the Civil Court in 1998 and to the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island in 2003. His wife is a Democratic district leader; their daughter, Elaine, is a lawyer and their son, Douglas, a police officer.Justice Schack’s duels with the banks started in 2007 as foreclosures spiked sharply. He saw a plague falling on Brooklyn, particularly its working-class black precincts. “Banks had given out loans structured to fail,” he said.

The judge burrowed into property record databases. He found banks without clear title, and a giant foreclosure law firm, Steven J. Baum, representing two sides in a dispute. He noted that Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, made more than $11 million in 2007 while the company’s total returns fell 12 percent. “Maybe,” he advised the bank, “counsel should wonder, like the court, if Mr. Stumpf was unjustly enriched at the expense of W.F.’s stockholders.”

He was, how to say it, mildly appalled. “I’m a guy from the streets of Brooklyn who happens to become a judge,” he said. “I see a bank giving a $500,000 mortgage on a building worth $300,000 and the interest rate is 20 percent and I ask questions, what can I tell you?”

Brown Sues 21 Individuals and 14 Companies Who Ripped Off Homeowners Desperate for Mortgage Relief

17 Jul

News Release
July 15, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: (916) 324-5500
Print Version
Attachments

Los Angeles – As part of a massive federal-state crackdown on loan modification scams, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. at a press conference today announced the filing of legal action against 21 individuals and 14 companies who ripped off thousands of homeowners desperately seeking mortgage relief.

Brown is demanding millions in civil penalties, restitution for victims and permanent injunctions to keep the companies and defendants from offering mortgage-relief services.

“The loan modification industry is teeming with confidence men and charlatans, who rip off desperate homeowners facing foreclosure,” Brown said. “Despite firm promises and money-back guarantees, these scam artists pocketed thousands of dollars from each victim and didn’t provide an ounce of relief.”

Brown filed five lawsuits as part of “Operation Loan Lies,” a nationwide sweep of sham loan modification consultants, which he conducted with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s office and 22 other federal and state agencies. In total, 189 suits and orders to stop doing business were filed across the country.

Following the housing collapse, hundreds of loan modification and foreclosure-prevention companies have cropped up, charging thousands of dollars in upfront fees and claiming that they can reduce mortgage payments. Yet, loan modifications are rarely, if ever, obtained. Less than 1 percent of homeowners nationwide have received principal reductions of any kind.

Brown has been leading the fight against fraudulent loan modification companies. He has sought court orders to shut down several companies including First Gov and Foreclosure Freedom and has brought criminal charges and obtained lengthy prison sentences for deceptive loan modification consultants.

Brown’s office filed the following lawsuits in Orange County and U.S. District Court for the Central District (Los Angeles):

– U.S. Homeowners Assistance, based in Irvine;
– U.S. Foreclosure Relief Corp and its legal affiliate Adrian Pomery, based in the City of Orange;
– Home Relief Services, LLC, with offices in Irvine, Newport Beach and Anaheim, and its legal affiliate, the Diener Law Firm;
– RMR Group Loss Mitigation, LLC and its legal affiliates Shippey & Associates and Arthur Aldridge. RMR Group has offices in Newport Beach, City of Orange, Huntington Beach, Corona, and Fresno;
– and
– United First, Inc, and its lawyer affiliate Mitchell Roth, based in Los Angeles.

U.S. Homeowners Assistance
Brown on Monday sued U.S. Homeowners Assistance, and its executives — Hakimullah “Sean” Sarpas and Zulmai Nazarzai — for bilking dozens of homeowners out of thousands of dollars each.

U.S. Homeowners Assistance claimed to be a government agency with a 98 percent success rate in aiding homeowners. In reality, the company was not a government agency and was never certified as an approved housing counselor by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. None of U.S. Homeowners Assistance’s known victims received loan modifications despite paying upfront fees ranging from $1,200 to $3,500.

For example, in January 2008, one victim received a letter from her lender indicating that her monthly mortgage payment would increase from $2,300 to $3,500. Days later, she received an unsolicited phone call from U.S. Homeowners Assistance promising a 40 percent reduction in principal and a $2,000 reduction in her monthly payment. She paid $3500 upfront for U.S. Homeowners Assistance’s services.

At the end of April 2008, her lender informed her that her loan modification request had been denied and sent her the documents that U.S. Homeowners Assistance had filed on her behalf. After reviewing those documents, she discovered that U.S. Homeowners Assistance had forged her signature and falsified her financial information – including fabricating a lease agreement with a fictitious tenant.

When she confronted U.S. Homeowners Assistance, she was immediately disconnected and has not been able to reach the company.

Brown’s suit contends that U.S. Homeowners Assistance violated:
– California Business and Professions Code section 17500 by falsely stating they were a government agency and misleading homeowners by claiming a 98 percent success rate in obtaining loan modifications;

– California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by failing to perform services made in exchange for upfront fees;

– California Civil Code section 2945.4 for unlawfully collecting upfront fees for loan modification services;

– California Civil Code section 2945.45 for failing to register with the California Attorney General’s Office as foreclosure consultants; and

– California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.

Brown is seeking $7.5 million in civil penalties, full restitution for victims, and a permanent injunction to keep the company and the defendants from offering foreclosure consultant services.

US Homeowners Assistance also did business as Statewide Financial Group, Inc., We Beat All Rates, and US Homeowners Preservation Center.

US Foreclosure Relief Corporation
Brown last week sued US Foreclosure Relief Corporation, H.E. Service Company, their executives — George Escalante and Cesar Lopez — as well as their legal affiliate Adrian Pomery for running a scam promising homeowners reductions in their principal and interest rates as low as 4 percent. Brown was joined in this suit by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Missouri.

Using aggressive telemarketing tactics, the defendants solicited desperate homeowners and charged an upfront fee ranging from $1,800 to $2,800 for loan modification services. During one nine-month period alone, consumers paid defendants in excess of $4.4 million. Yet, in most instances, defendants failed to provide the mortgage-relief services. Once consumers paid the fee, the defendants avoided responding to consumers’ inquiries.

In response to a large number of consumer complaints, several government agencies directed the defendants to stop their illegal practices. Instead, they changed their business name and continued their operations – using six different business aliases in the past eight months alone.

Brown’s lawsuit alleges the companies and individuals violated:
– The National Do Not Call Registry, 16 C.F.R. section 310.4 and California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by telemarketing their services to persons on the registry;

– The National Do Not Call Registry, 16 C.F.R. section 310.8 and California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by telemarketing their services without paying the mandatory annual fee for access to telephone numbers within the area codes included in the registry;

– California Civil Code section 2945 et seq. and California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by demanding and collecting up-front fees prior to performing any services, failing to include statutory notices in their contracts, and failing to comply with other requirements imposed on mortgage foreclosure consultants;

– California Business and Professions Code sections 17200 and 17500 by representing that they would obtain home loan modifications for consumers but failing to do so in most instances; by representing that consumers must make further payments even though they had not performed any of the promised services; by representing that they have a high success rate and that they can obtain loan modification within no more than 60 days when in fact these representations were false; and by directing consumers to avoid contact with their lenders and to stop making loan payments causing some lenders to initiate foreclosure proceedings and causing damage to consumers’ credit records.

Victims of this scam include a father of four battling cancer, a small business owner, an elderly disabled couple, a sheriff whose income dropped due to city budget cuts and an Iraq-war veteran. None of these victims received the loan modification promised.

Brown is seeking unspecified civil penalties, full restitution for victims, and a permanent injunction to keep the company and the defendants from offering foreclosure consultant services.

The defendants also did business under other names including Lighthouse Services and California Foreclosure Specialists.

Home Relief Services, LLC
Brown Monday sued Home Relief Services, LLC., its executives Terence Green Sr. and Stefano Marrero, the Diener Law Firm and its principal attorney Christopher L. Diener for bilking thousands of homeowners out of thousands of dollars each.

Home Relief Services charged homeowners over $4,000 in upfront fees, promised to lower interest rates to 4 percent, convert adjustable-rate mortgages to low fixed-rate loans and reduce principal up to 50 percent within 30 to 60 days. None of the known victims received a modification with the assistance of the defendants.

In some cases, these companies also sought to be the lenders’ agent in the short-sale of their clients’ homes. In doing so, the defendants attempted to use their customers’ personal financial information for their own benefit.

Home Relief Services and the Diener Law Firm directed homeowners to stop contacting their lender because the defendants would act as their sole agent and negotiator.

Brown’s lawsuit contends that the defendants violated:
– California Business and Professions Code section 17500 by claiming a 95 percent success rate and promising consumers significant reductions in the principal balance of their mortgages;

– California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by failing to perform on promises made in exchange for upfront fees;

– California Civil Code section 2945.4 for unlawfully collecting upfront fees for loan modification services;

– California Business and Professions Code section 2945.3 by failing to include cancellation notices in their contracts;

– California Civil Code section 2945.45 by not registering with the Attorney General’s office as foreclosure consultants; and

– California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.

Brown is seeking $10 million in civil penalties, full restitution for victims, and a permanent injunction to keep the company and the defendants from offering foreclosure consultant services.

Two other companies with the same management were also involved in the effort to deceive homeowners: Payment Relief Services, Inc. and Golden State Funding, Inc.

RMR Group Loss Mitigation Group
Brown Monday sued RMR Group Loss Mitigation and its executives Michael Scott Armendariz of Huntington Beach, Ruben Curiel of Lancaster, and Ricardo Haag of Corona; Living Water Lending, Inc.; and attorney Arthur Steven Aldridge of Westlake Village as well as the law firm of Shippey & Associates and its principal attorney Karla C. Shippey of Yorba Linda – for bilking over 500 victims out of nearly $1 million.

The company solicited homeowners through telephone calls and in-person home visits. Employees claimed a 98 percent success rate and a money-back guarantee. None of the known victims received any refunds or modifications with the assistance of defendants.

For example, in July 2008, a 71-year old victim learned his monthly mortgage payments would increase from $2,470 to $3,295. He paid $2,995, yet received no loan modification and no refund.

Additionally, RMR insisted that homeowners refrain from contacting their lenders because the defendants would act as their agents.

Brown’s suit contends that the defendants violated:

– California Business and Professions Code section 17500 by claiming a 98 percent success rate and promising consumers significant reductions in the principal balance of their mortgages;

– California Business and Professions Code section 17200 by failing to perform on promises made in exchange for upfront fees;

– California Civil Code section 2945.4 for unlawfully collecting upfront fees for loan modification services;

– California Business and Professions Code section 2945.3 by failing to include cancellation notices in their contracts;

– California Civil Code section 2945.45 by not registering with the Attorney General’s office as foreclosure consultants; and

– California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.

Brown is seeking $7.5 million in civil penalties, full restitution for victims, and a permanent injunction to keep the company and the defendants from offering foreclosure consultant services.

United First, Inc.
On July 6, 2009, Brown sued a foreclosure consultant and an attorney — Paul Noe Jr. and Mitchell Roth – who conned 2,000 desperate homeowners into paying exorbitant fees for “phony lawsuits” to forestall foreclosure proceedings.

These lawsuits were filed and abandoned, even though homeowners were charged $1,800 in upfront fees, at least $1,200 per month and contingency fees of up to 80 percent of their home’s value.

Noe convinced more than 2,000 homeowners to sign “joint venture” agreements with his company, United First, and hire Roth to file suits claiming that the borrower’s loan was invalid because the mortgages had been sold so many times on Wall Street that the lender could not demonstrate who owned it. Similar suits in other states have never resulted in the elimination of the borrower’s mortgage debt.

After filing the lawsuits, Roth did virtually nothing to advance the cases. He often failed to make required court filings, respond to legal motions, comply with court deadlines, or appear at court hearings. Instead, Roth’s firm simply tried to extend the lawsuits as long as possible in order to collect additional monthly fees.

United First charged homeowners approximately $1,800 in upfront fees, plus at least $1,200 per month. If the case was settled, homeowners were required to pay 50 percent of the cash value of the settlement. For example, if United First won a $100,000 reduction of the mortgage debt, the homeowner would have to pay United First a fee of $50,000. If United First completely eliminated the homeowner’s debt, the homeowner would be required to pay the company 80 percent of the value of the home.

Brown’s lawsuit contends that Noe, Roth and United First:

– Violated California’s credit counseling and foreclosure consultant laws, Civil Code sections 1789 and 2945

– Inserted unconscionable terms in contracts;

– Engaged in improper running and capping, meaning that Roth improperly partnered with United First, Inc. and Noe, who were not lawyers, to generate business for his law firm violating California Business and Professions Code 6150; and

– Violated 17500 of the California Business and Professions Code.

Brown’s office is seeking $2 million in civil penalties, full restitution for victims, and a permanent injunction to keep the company and the defendants from offering foreclosure consultant services.

Tips for Homeowners
Brown’s office issued these tips for homeowners to avoid becoming a victim:

DON’T pay money to people who promise to work with your lender to modify your loan. It is unlawful for foreclosure consultants to collect money before (1) they give you a written contract describing the services they promise to provide and (2) they actually perform all the services described in the contract, such as negotiating new monthly payments or a new mortgage loan. However, an advance fee may be charged by an attorney, or by a real estate broker who has submitted the advance fee agreement to the Department of Real Estate, for review.

DO call your lender yourself. Your lender wants to hear from you, and will likely be much more willing to work directly with you than with a foreclosure consultant.

DON’T ignore letters from your lender. Consider contacting your lender yourself, many lenders are willing to work with homeowners who are behind on their payments.

DON’T transfer title or sell your house to a “foreclosure rescuer.” Fraudulent foreclosure consultants often promise that if homeowners transfer title, they may stay in the home as renters and buy their home back later. The foreclosure consultants claim that transfer is necessary so that someone with a better credit rating can obtain a new loan to prevent foreclosure. BEWARE! This is a common scheme so-called “rescuers” use to evict homeowners and steal all or most of the home’s equity.

DON’T pay your mortgage payments to someone other than your lender or loan servicer, even if he or she promises to pass the payment on. Fraudulent foreclosure consultants often keep the money for themselves.

DON’T sign any documents without reading them first. Many homeowners think that they are signing documents for a new loan to pay off the mortgage they are behind on. Later, they discover that they actually transferred ownership to the “rescuer.”

DO contact housing counselors approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who may be able to help you for free. For a referral to a housing counselor near you, contact HUD at 1-800-569-4287 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or http://www.hud.gov.

If you believe you have been the victim of a mortgage-relief scam in California, please contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit at http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/general.php.
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Ex-parte aplication for TRO and injunction

8 Jul

EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR OSC TRO