Fatal Flaws in the Origination of Loans and Assignments

The secured party, the identified creditor, the payee on the note, the mortgagee on the mortgage, the beneficiary under the deed of trust should have been the investor(s) — not the originator, not the aggregator, not the servicer, not any REMIC Trust, not any Trustee of a REMIC Trust, and not any Trustee substituted by a false beneficiary on a deed of Trust, not the master servicer and not even the broker dealer. And certainly not whoever is pretending to be a legal party in interest who, without injury to themselves or anyone they represent, could or should force the forfeiture of property in which they have no interest — all to the detriment of the investor-lenders and the borrowers.
There are two fatal flaws in the origination of the loan and in the origination of the assignment of the loan.

As I see it …

The REAL Transaction is between the investors, as an unnamed group, and the borrower(s). This is taken from the single transaction rule and step transaction doctrine that is used extensively in Tax Law. Since the REMIC trust is a tax creature, it seems all the more appropriate to use existing federal tax law decisions to decide the substance of these transactions.

If the money from the investors was actually channeled through the REMIC trust, through a bank account over which the Trustee for the REMIC trust had control, and if the Trustee had issued payment for the loan, and if that happened within the cutoff period, then if the loan was assigned during the cutoff period, and if the delivery of the documents called for in the PSA occurred within the cutoff period, then the transaction would be real and the paperwork would be real EXCEPT THAT

Where the originator of the loan was neither legally the lender nor legally a representative of the source of funds for the transaction, then by simple rules of contract, the originator was incapable of executing any transfer documents for the note or mortgage (deed of trust in nonjudicial states).

If the originator of the loan was not the lender, not the creditor, not a party who could legally execute a satisfaction of the mortgage and a cancellation of the note then who was?

Our answer is nobody, which I know is “counter-intuitive” — a euphemism for crazy conspiracy theorist. But here is why I know that the REMIC trust was never involved in the transaction and that the originator was never the source of funds except in those cases where securitization was never involved (less than 2% of all loans made, whether still existing or “satisfied” or “foreclosed”).

The broker dealer never intended for the REMIC trust to actually own the mortgage loans and caused the REMIC trust to issue mortgage bonds containing an indenture for repayment and ownership of the underlying loans. But there were never any underlying loans (except for some trusts created in the 1990′s). The prospectus said plainly that the excel spreadsheet attached to the prospectus contained loan information that would be replaced by the real loans once they were acquired. This is a practice on Wall Street called selling forward. In all other marketplaces, it is called fraud. But like short-selling, it is permissible on Wall Street.

The broker dealer never intended the investors to actually own the bonds either. Those were issued in street name nominee, non objecting status/ The broker dealer could report to the investor that the investor was the actual or equitable owner of the bonds in an end of month statement when in fact the promises in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement as to insurance, credit default swaps, overcollateralization (a violation of the terms of the promissory note executed by residential borrowers), cross collateralization (also a violation of the borrower’s note), guarantees, servicer advances and trust or trustee advances would all be payable, at the discretion of the broker dealer, to the broker dealer and perhaps never reported or paid to the “trust beneficiaries” who were in fact merely defrauded investors. The only reason the servicer advances were paid to the investors was to lull them into a false sense of security and to encourage them to buy still more of these empty (less than junk) bonds.

By re-creating the notes signed by residential borrowers as various different instruments, and there being no limit on the number of times it could be insured or subject to receiving the proceeds of credit default swaps, (and with the broker dealer being the Master Servicer with SOLE discretion as to whether to declare a credit event that was binding on the insurer, counter-party etc), the broker dealers were able to sell the loans multiple times and sell the bonds multiple times. The leverage at Bear Stearns stacked up to 42 times the actual transaction — for which the return was infinite because the Bear used investor money to do the deal.

Hence we know from direct evidence in the public domain that this was the plan for the “claim” of securitization — which is to say that there never was any securitization of any of the loans. The REMIC Trust was ignored, thus the PSA, servicer rights, etc. were all nonbinding, making all of them volunteers earning considerable money, undisclosed to the investors who would have been furious to see how their money was being used and the borrowers who didn’t see the train wreck coming even from 24 inches from the closing documents.

Before the first loan application was received (and obviously before the first “closing” occurred) the money had been taken from investors for the expressed purpose of funding loans through the REMIC Trust. The originator in all cases was subject to an assignment and assumption agreement which made the loan the property and liability of the counter-party to the A&A BEFORE the money was given to the borrower or paid out on behalf of the borrower. Without the investor, there would have been no loan. without the borrower, there would have been no investment (but there would still be an investor left holding the bag having advanced money for mortgage bonds issued by a REMIC trust that had no assets, and no income to pay the bonds off).

The closing agent never “noticed” that the funds did not come from the actual originator. Since the amount was right, the money went into the closing agent’s escrow account and was then applied by the escrow agent to fund the loan to the borrower. But the rules were that the originator was not allowed to touch or handle or process the money or any overpayment.

Wire transfer instructions specified that any overage was to be returned to the sender who was neither the originator nor any party in privity with the originator. This was intended to prevent moral hazard (theft, of the same type the banks themselves were committing) and to create a layer of bankruptcy remote, liability remote originators whose sins could only be visited upon the aggregators, and CDO conduits constructed by CDO managers in the broker dealers IF the proponent of a claim could pierce a dozen fire walls of corporate veils.

NOW to answer your question, if the REMIC trust was ignored, and was a sham used to steal money from pension funds, but the money of the pension fund landed on the “closing table,” then who should have been named on the note and mortgage (deed of trust beneficiary in non-judicial states)? Obviously the investor(s) should have been protected with a note and mortgage made out in their name or in the name of their entity. It wasn’t.

And the originator was intentionally isolated from privity with the source of funds. That means to me, and I assume you agree, that the investor(s) should have been on the note as payee, the investor(s) should have been on the mortgage as mortgagees (or beneficiaries under the deed of trust) but INSTEAD a stranger to the transaction with no money in the deal allowed their name to be rented as though they were the actual lender.

In turn it was this third party stranger nominee straw-man who supposedly executed assignments, endorsements, and other instruments of power or transfer (sometimes long after they went out of business) on a note and mortgage over which they had no right to control and in which they had no interest and for which they could suffer no loss.

Thus the paperwork that should have been used was never created, executed or delivered. The paperwork that that was created referred to a transaction between the named parties that never occurred. No state allows equitable mortgages, nor should they. But even if that theory was somehow employed here, it would be in favor of the individual investors who actually suffered the loss rather than the foreclosing entity who bears no risk of loss on the loan given to the borrower at closing. They might have other claims against numerous parties including the borrower, but those claims are unliquidated and unsecured.

The secured party, the identified creditor, the payee on the note, the mortgagee on the mortgage, the beneficiary under the deed of trust should have been the investor(s) — not the originator, not the aggregator, not the servicer, not any REMIC Trust, not any Trustee of a REMIC Trust, and not any Trustee substituted by a false beneficiary on a deed of Trust, not the master servicer and not even the broker dealer. And certainly not whoever is pretending to be a legal party in interest who, without injury to themselves or anyone they represent, could or should force the forfeiture of property in which they have no interest — all to the detriment of the investor-lenders and the borrowers.

Why any court would allow the conduits and bookkeepers to take over the show to the obvious detriment and damage to the real parties in interest is a question that only legal historians will be able to answer.

Wells Fargo Manual Serves as Basis for Deeper Discovery

Every lawyer defending Foreclosures has heard the same thing from the bench just before a ruling in favor of the pretender lender — the homeowner did not meet its burden of proof and therefore judgment is entered in favor of the “bank.” The fact that the pretender lender is a bank makes the judge more comfortable with his assumption that the loan is real, the default is real, the financial injury to the pretender lender is presumed, and that the family should be kicked out of their home me because they stopped paying on “the loan.”

More and more Judges are now questioning the assumption of viability of the forecloser’s position and are now entertaining the issue of whether the loan exists as an enforceable contract act and whether it has been already paid off or sold to third parties leaving the currently foreclosing party with a patently false claim.

Those of us who have been analyzing these “securitized” mortgages recognize the situation for what it is — a magic trick in a smoke and mirrors environment using the holographic image of an empty paper bag. The reasons Wells Fargo fought the introduction of its manual into Federal Court is simple — it is an open door in discovery that will most likely lead to definite proof that the money trail does not support the paper trail. That means the actual transactions were different than the events shown on the fabricated assignments, endorsements, allonges and other instruments of transfer.

But it also opens the door to the initial transaction in which “the loan” was created. It turns out that in most cases there were two transactions at the “origination” of each loan. One of those “transactions” is what we are all looking at — an apparently closed loop of offer, acceptance and consideration with most of the required disclosures under TILA.

So, as we shall see, there was a fake loan and a real loan. The fake one was fully and overly documented, whereas the real one is sparsely documented consisting of wire transfer receipt, wire transfer instructions and perhaps some correspondence. Neither was ever delivered to the fake lender or the real lender which is part of the problem that the Wells Fargo manual was intended to address. Discovery should proceed with the other banks where you find similar manuals.

This is the one everybody has their eye on, while the real transaction takes place right under the eye of the borrower who doesn’t catch the magic trick. So the fake transaction is the subject of a note where the lender is identified as such. Then the “lender” and perhaps some other strawman like MERS is also identified. MERS doesn’t make any claims to ownership of the loan (in fact it disclaims any such ownership on its website). The question is whether the “originator” was also a strawman, even if it was a commercial bank whose business included making loans.

Back to basics. The loan closing is described by most courts as a quasi contract because there is no written loan contract prior to the “closing.” But it must be interpreted under Federal and State lending and contract laws because there is no other viable classification for an alleged loan transaction.

The basics of a loan contract, like any other contract, are offer, acceptance and consideration. Federal and state law are also inserted into the inferred loan contract by operation of law. So the basic contractual question is whether there was an offer, whether there was acceptance and whether there was consideration. If any of those things are absent, there is no contract— or to be more specific there is no enforceable contract.

And that applies to mortgages more than anything because it is universally accepted that there is no such thing as an “equitable mortgage.” The short reason is that title and regular commerce would be forever undermined — no buyer would buy, except at a high discount, anything where it might turn out he wasn’t getting the title she or he expected.

So the loan contract must be real, and it must be in writing because the statute of frauds and other state laws require that any interest in land must be conveyed by a written instrument — and recorded in the Public Records (but the recording requirements are frequently a rabbit hole down which homeowners go at their peril).

This is where the magic trick begins and where Wells Fargo and the other major banks are holding their collective breath. The offer is communicated through a mortgage broker or”originator” and consists of the offer of the originator to loan a certain sum of money, in exchange for the promise by the borrower to repay it under certain terms.

It is inferred that the originator is making the offer on its own behalf but this is not the case. The truth is that investors have already advanced the money that will be used in the loan. So the offer is coming not from a “lender” but rather from a nominee or agent. The transaction at best is identified under RegZ and TILA as a table funded loan which is not only illegal, it is by definition “predatory.”

What is an”offer” to loan somebody else’s money? The answer is nothing unless the other party has consented to that loan or has executed a document that gives the “originator” a written authorization that is recordable and recorded. Where do we find such authorization? Theoretically one might refer to the Pooling and Servicing Agreement — but the problem is that any violation of the PSA results in a void transaction by operation of New York law, which is the governing law of most PSA’s.

Were the investors or the Trustee of the REMIC trust advised of the terms of the loan transaction proposed by the originator. No, and there is no way the originator can even fabricate that without disclosing the names of the investors, the trustee, and specific person at the “trustee” etc. So the question becomes whether the investors or trust beneficiaries conveyed written authority to enter into a transaction in which a loan was originated or acquired. In virtually all cases the answer is no.

One of the simpler reasons is that the investors money was never used to fund the trust, so the investors lost their tax benefit from using a REMIC trust in direct violation of their contract or quasi contract with the broker dealer who “sold mortgage bonds” allegedly issued by the empty, unfunded trust.

Another more complicated reason is that the loans probably do not and could never qualify as a minimum risk investment as the law requires for management of “Stable funds.” Those are fund units managed under strict restrictions because they hold pension money and other types of liabilities where capital preservation is far more important than growth or even income.

And the third aspect is the presence in virtually all cases of an Assignment and Assumption Agreement (see Neil Garfield on YouTube) BEFORE THE FIRST BOND IS SOLD AND BEFORE THE FIRST APPLICATION FOR LOAN IS RECEIVED.

Analysis of the loan transaction will show that for the fly-by-night originators who have long since vanished, they had no right or ability to even touch the money at closing, which was coming in reform a third party source with whom they had no relationship — which is why the Wall Street lawyers consider them both bankruptcy remote and liability remote (I.e., anything wrong at closing won’t be ascribed to either the broker dealer, or the investors (or their empty unfunded trust). Countrywide is a larger example of this.

All the sub entities of Countrywide and Lehman (Aurora, BNC etc.) are also examples despite their appearance as “institutions” they were merely sham entities operating as strawmen — nominees without authority to do anything and who never touched the closing money except for receipt of fees which in part were paid as set forth in the borrower’s closing documents, and in part paid without disclosure (another TILA violation) through a labyrinth of entities.

Thus the only reasonable conclusion is that there never was a complete offer with all material terms disclosed. No offer=no contract=no enforcement=no foreclosure is possible, although it is possible for a civil judgment to be obtained against the borrower if a real party in interest could allege and prove financial injury. It also means that the documents signed by the borrower neither disclosed the real terms or real parties, which means they were procured through false representations — the very same allegation the investors are making against the broker dealers (investment banks).

In the case of actual banks, like Wells Fargo, it is more counterintuitive than the fly by night “originators.” But discovery, deep inside the operations of the bank will show that the underwriting standards for portfolio loans in which the bank had a risk of loss were different than the underwriting standards for “securitized” loans. In fact they were run and processed on entirely different platforms. The repurchase agreement being discussed in the literature on structured finance actually results from the fictitious sale of the loan rather than the underwriting at origination.

When the borrower signed the closing document he or she was executing an acceptance of a deal that was only part of the complete offer, which contained numerous restrictions that would have insured to the benefit of both the borrower and the lender, which turns out to be the group of investors who gave their money to a broker dealer (investment bank). If you want to split hairs, it is possible that the “closing documents” were an offer from the borrower that was never accepted by anyone who could perform under the terms of the quasi contract.

So we clearly have a problem with the first two components of an enforceable contract — offer and acceptance.

The final component is consideration which is to say that someone actually parted with money to fund the loan. And low and behold this is the first time our boots fall on solid ground — albeit nowhere near the loan described in the loan documentation. There was indeed money sent to the closing agent. Who sent it? Not the originator, not the nominees, not the trust because it was never funded, and not the investors because they had already funded their “purchase” of the “mortgage bonds” by delivering money to the broker dealer. We can’t say nobody sent it, because that is plainly untrue. Where did the money come from? Did the closing agent err in applying money from an unknown party to the closing of the loan?

It came from a controlled account (superfund) spread out over multiple entities that were NOT identified by a particular REMIC Trust. There was a reason for that, but that is for another article. Whether it was American Broker’s Conduit, a fictitious name sometimes registered, sometimes not, or Wells Fargo itself, the name of the entity was being “rented” for purposes of closing just as it is being rented for purposes of foreclosure.

Therefore the consideration did not come from any party at closing and the inevitable conclusion is that no enforceable contract was created at closing. This does not mean the borrower doesn’t owe the money. It just means that nobody should be able to foreclose on a void mortgage and it is doubtful that anyone could obtain judgment on a promissory note with some many defects. But there are other actions, such as unjust enrichment, which have been discussed in recent cases. It is foreclosure that is legally impossible under the true scenario as I see it and as others see it now. My position has not changed in 7 years. The only thing that has changed is the way I say it.

So the issue of the Wells Fargo and its fabrication manual is that discovery will lead to deeper and deeper secrets that will undermine not only the entire foreclosure infrastructure, but also the financial statements that support ever growing stock prices for the major banks.

The Step Transaction and Single Transaction Doctrine

Jim Macklin and Dan Edstrom did a great job of packing a great deal of information into 28 minutes of talk time on the Neil Garfield Show last night. I am taking a couple of weeks off the show to do some common follow-up procedures to my heart surgery two years ago. Jim Macklin stepped in and did a great job of getting information into the hands of lawyers and other listeners in what turned out to be a mini-seminar on how to apply Federal tax law to the issue of ownership of the the loan. It should be heard more than once to get all the nuances they presented.

Their point was that all the binding commitments were in place before the mortgage bonds were sold and before any loans were even considered for approval. The bottom line is that the customary practice in the finance industry was to sell forward — i.e., sell the bonds based upon loans that either did not exist or had not yet been acquired by the REMIC trusts. THEN they went out originating loans and acquiring loans.

As we have previously discussed here and elsewhere, the trusts and the trustee never even had a bank account through which the “pass through” assets and income would be funneled to investors. But that only adds fuel to the fire that Edstrom and Macklin were talking about. From a federal tax law perspective, which should pre-empt any state interpretation, the loans belonged to the investors from the start — not the trusts.

The trusts could only be used as a representative entity in litigation if they were funded with the investors’ money. Our research strongly supports the conclusion that no such funding took place. In fact, our research indicates the funding of the trust with the investors money was impossible because no trust accounts were ever created.

Thus you have the “straight line” that goes from the investors to the borrower. This goes directly to the issue of standing. Because once it is established that the consideration for the only real single transaction flowed from the investors to the borrower, no transaction between intermediaries were true.

They were false transactions supported by fabricated documents with no payment of consideration. Article 9 of the UCC completely supports this interpretation along with decisions interpreting federal tax law as to the real parties in interest. As a result the issue of standing is resolved — only the investors have standing to collect on the loans for which borrowers concede they received the money or the benefit.

The assignments shown in court are between intermediary parties who had no actual transaction with no actual payment or consideration because the payment or consideration had already passed through binding commitments set up by the so-called securitization scheme. By not funding the trusts, the broker dealers were free to use the money as they wished and they did.

They broke every rule in the underwriting book because they were traveling under a different set of rules than the investors or the borrowers thought. Because they had promised to make the payments due under the trust document — the pooling and servicing agreement — and because their binding commitments to make the payments for principal, interest, taxes and insurance already existed prior to the sale the mortgage bonds and prior to the loan to the borrower (see servicer advances, trust advances etc.).

As a result, the investors who should have been on the notes and mortgages were deprived of the documentation they were promised in the PSA. In plain language the mortgage documents and the bond documentation were pure fabrications without any underlying transaction between the parties to those transactions. No transaction between the investor and the trust. And no transaction between the “lender” on the note and mortgage and the borrower.

Hence the allegation of investors in their claims against the broker dealers that the note and mortgage is unenforceable to the detriment of the investors, who are left with common law claims for recovery of damages without any security instrument to protect them. hence the claim that borrowers are being sued by intermediaries who were strangers to the ACTUAL transaction with REAL consideration and terms to which both lender and borrower were bound. The terms agreed by the lenders were vastly different than the terms disclosed to borrowers. There was no meeting of the minds.

GUEST HOST TONITE JAMES MACKLIN

Click in tonite— tune in at The Neil Garfield Show

Or call in at (347) 850-1260, 6pm Thursdays

Guest Host Tonight is Jim Macklin, Managing Director, Secure Document Research located in Nevada. He has been a guest on the show before. A dynamic speaker and presenter, he has assisted me in presenting seminars for CLE credit for lawyers. His guest is Dan Edstrom, senior forensic analyst for the Livinglies Team.

His Topic today will be how tax law determines ownership interests in REMIC assets. For you newcomers, REMIC means Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit — it is the trust (usually under New York Law) that supposedly was funded by investors through the broker-dealer that sold the alleged mortgage bonds to pension funds and other stable managed funds.

For those of you who have pondered how a stable managed fund got involved despite restrictions as to what risks are acceptable in investment strategies the answer is simple — they had a guarantee from the servicer and/or the trust and/or the trustee that they would receive the money each month including principal, interest, taxes and insurance REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE BORROWER PAID. Dan Edstrom and Jim Macklin were the first ones to bring this to my attention. It affects the alleged existence of a default when the creditor is getting paid, the terms of the alleged loan contract, and the alleged balance claimed as owed under the mortgage loan.

Servicer Advances, Modification of Loans and Sundry Matters

I appear to have sparked some controversy over my comments that were directed at modifications and servicer advances — subjects that are not necessarily related. But they could be related — as where the homeowner seeks a modification on which there have been servicer advances.

So to answer some questions about Modifications, I will first state that no article on any subject on this blog is intended to be a complete exposition of an issue — if it was, each post would equivalent to a treatise several hundred pages long. That is why we say don’t use any one article as the authority for your situation and to get advice from competent licensed professionals who can service your needs based upon your information.

That said, there have been numerous comments about modifications, some of which have correct information in them. Like anything else found here, you should check with knowledgeable licensed professionals before you act on anything — especially the comments posted by people who have their own axe to grind. One thing is true — modification has a lot of moving parts and it isn’t as simple as anyone would like it to be. There are also tax issues that effect the calculations which I have not yet explored on these pages.

Modification is a sub-specialty of law in which I do not claim any rights. But that is the point. Most of the people who are giving opinions on modification are not lawyers, nor accountants, nor trained, licensed individuals in any area of any discipline. They have some experience, and that experience has molded their perceptions but they don’t know enough to conceive of solutions outside the box in which they operate. And some of them are on the payroll of banks who are waging a PR campaign in which they are spending billions, in one form or another, to make it look like the loans are real and the modification of them is the right way to go.

Modification IS a real option as long as you get something real. Qualifying for a modification takes time, expertise and the ability to present a credible threat in litigation, which is why I favor lawyers over anyone else doing modifications. The cost-benefit analysis should be done by someone who does this all day long and who is constantly researching options.

I write about bits and pieces. Attorneys who have well defined departments that handle modifications, short-sales, hardest hit programs, and other programs that offer assistance are miles ahead of me and any of the comments I have seen on my writing about modification.

As to servicer advances there is a small debate going on but I stick with my analysis. If the creditor has indeed received payment on the account of the loan that is being collected or foreclosed then there is either no default or the notice of default, notice of acceleration and/or the lawsuit itself and the evidence submitted are wrong as to amount.

The fact that there COULD be a claim against the borrower for unjust enrichment is irrelevant. First, even if the claim exists, it is not secured by the mortgage nor described by the note. Second, it is not likely that those claims will ever be brought.

And lastly — and I do mean lastly — thank you for your various invitations for a debate. My answer is no, I will save that for court or a seminar in which we cover the four corners of the issues. I will not “debate” issues of law with non-lawyers, or anyone else that lacks credentials to challenge anything I have said. And if you have reading this blog for years you can see how I have evolved in my own thinking and analysis causing me to reverse some prior strategies that I had suggested.

But the basic information about securitization presented here is, to the best of my knowledge and belief (see about Neil Garfield), still completely correct and facts and decisions on the ground have proven me right in each case. At first everyone scoffs, then  they end up arguing for it. They scoff because some of these things are counter-intuitive — i.e., they seem impossible. That doesn’t make them any less true. I was right about everything, factually in 2007, legally in 2008 and I believe I remain so. It is taking the judicial system a long time to catch up because of the intense complexity and opacity of the “securitization” game.

Foreclosures on Nonexistent Mortgages

I have frequently commented that one of the first things I learned on Wall Street was the maxim that the more complicated the “product” the more the buyer is forced to rely on the seller for information. Michael Lewis, in his new book, focuses on high frequency trading — a term that is not understood by most people, even if they work on Wall Street. The way it works is that the computers are able to sort out buy or sell orders, aggregate them and very accurately predict an uptick or down-tick in a stock or bond.

Then the same investment bank that is taking your order to buy or sell submits its own order ahead of yours. They are virtually guaranteed a profit, at your expense, although the impact on individual investors is small. Aggregating those profits amounts to a private tax on large and small investors amounting to billions of dollars, according to Lewis and I agree.

As Lewis points out, the trader knows nothing about what happens after they place an order. And it is the complexity of technology and practices that makes Wall Street behavior so opaque — clouded in a veil of secrecy that is virtually impenetrable to even the regulators. That opacity first showed up decades ago as Wall Street started promoting increasing complex investments. Eventually they evolved to collateralized debt obligations (CDO’s) and those evolved into what became known as the mortgage crisis.

in the case of mortgage CDO’s, once again the investors knew nothing about what happened after they placed their order and paid for it. Once again, the Wall Street firms were one step ahead of them, claiming ownership of (1) the money that investors paid, (2) the mortgage bonds the investors thought they were buying and (3) the loans the investors thought were being financed through REMIC trusts that issued the mortgage bonds.

Like high frequency trading, the investor receives a report that is devoid of any of the details of what the investment bank actually did with their money, when they bought or originated a mortgage, through what entity,  for how much and what terms. The blending of millions of mortgages enabled the investment banks to create reports that looked good but completely hid the vulnerability of the investors, who were continuing to buy mortgage bonds based upon those reports.

The truth is that in most cases the investment banks took the investors money and didn’t follow any of the rules set forth in the CDO documents — but used those documents when it suited them to make even more money, creating the illusion that loans had been securitized when in fact the securitization vehicle (REMIC Trust) had been completely ignored.

There were several scenarios under which property and homeowners were made vulnerable to foreclosure even if they had no mortgage on their property. A recent story about an elderly couple coming “home” to find their door padlocked, possessions removed and then the devastating news that their home had been sold at foreclosure auction is an example of the extreme risk of this system to ALL homeowners, whether they have or had a mortgage or not. This particular couple had paid off their mortgage 15 years ago. The bank who foreclosed on the nonexistent mortgage and the recovery company that invaded their home said it was a mistake. Their will be a confidential settlement where once again the veil of secrecy will be raised.

That type of “mistake” was a once in a million possibility before Wall Street directly entered the mortgage loan business. So why have we read so many stories about foreclosures where there was no mortgage, or was no default, or where the mortgage loan was with someone other than the party who foreclosed?

The answer lies in how these properties enter the system. When a bank sells its portfolio of loans into the system of aggregation of loans, they might accidentally or intentionally include loans for which they had already received full payment. Maybe they issued a satisfaction maybe they didn’t. It might also include loans where life insurance or PMI paid off the loan.

Or, as is frequently the case, the “loan” was sold after the homeowner was merely investigating the possibility of a mortgage or reverse mortgage. As soon as they made application, since approval was certain, the “originator” entered the data into a platform maintained by the aggregator, like Countrywide, where it was included in some “securitization package.

If the loan closed then it was frequently sold again with the new dates and data, so it would like like a different loan. Then the investment banks, posing as the lenders, obtained insurance, TARP, guarantee proceeds and other payments from “co-obligors” on each version of the loan that was sold, thus essentially creating the equivalent of new sales on loans that were guaranteed to be foreclosed either because there was no mortgage or because the terms were impossible for the borrower to satisfy.

The LPS roulette wheel in Jacksonville is the hub where it is decided WHO will be the foreclosing party and for HOW MUCH they will claim is owed, without any allowance for the multiple sales, proceeds of insurance, FDIC loss sharing, actual ownership of the loans or anything else. Despite numerous studies by those in charge of property records and academic studies, the beat goes on, foreclosing by entities who are “strangers to the transaction” (San Francisco study), on documents that were intentionally destroyed (Catherine Ann Porter study at University of Iowa), against homeowners who had no idea what was going on, using the money of investors who had no idea what was going on, and all based upon a triple tiered documentary system where the contractual meeting of the minds could never occur.

The first tier was the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement that was used to obtain money from investors under false pretenses.

The second tier consisted of a whole subset of agreements, contracts, insurance, guarantees all payable to the investment banks instead of the investors.

And the third tier was the “closing documents” in which the borrower, contrary to Federal (TILA), state and common law was as clueless as the investors as to what was really happening, the compensation to intermediaries and the claims of ownership that would later be revealed despite the borrower’s receipt of “disclosure” of the identity of his lender and the terms of compensation by all people associated with the origination of the loan.

The beauty of this plan for Wall Street is that nobody from any of the tiers could make direct claims to the benefits of any of the contracts. It has also enabled then to foreclose more than once on the same home in the name of different creditors, making double claims for guarantee from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FDIC loss sharing, insurance and credit default swaps.

The ugly side of the plan is still veiled, for the most part in secrecy. even when the homeowner gets close in court, there is a confidential settlement, sometimes for millions of dollars to keep the lawyer and the homeowner from disclosing the terms or the reasons why millions of dollars was paid to a homeowner to keep his mouth shut on a loan that was only $200,000 at origination.

This is exactly why I tell people that most of the time their case will be settled either in discovery where a Judge agrees you are entitled to peak behind the curtain, or at trial where it becomes apparent that the witness who is “familiar” with the corporate records really knows nothing and ahs nothing about the the real history of the loan transaction.

Hearsay on Hearsay: Bank Professional Witnesses Using Business Records Exception as Shield from Truth

Wells Fargo Manual “Blueprint for Fraud”

Hat tip to my law partner, Danielle Kelley, Esq., for sending me the manual and the reports on it. Anyone desirous of a consultation on the application of what is on this blog, must either be a lawyer or have a lawyer who is licensed in the jurisdiction in which the property is located. For scheduling call 954-495-9867 (South Florida Office), 850-765-1236 (North Florida Office), and 520-405-1688 (Western United States). International callers: The same rules apply.

Well that didn’t take long. Like the revelations concerning Urban Lending Solutions and Bank of America, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the the intermediary banks were hell bent for foreclosure regardless of what was best for the investors or the borrowers. This included, fraud, fabrication, unauthorized documents and signatures, perjury and outright theft of money and identities. I understand the agreement between the Bush administration and the large banks. And I understand the reason why the Obama administration continued to honor the agreements reached between the Bush administration and the large banks. They didn’t have a clue. And they were relying on Wall Street to report on its own behavior. But I’m sure the agreement did not even contemplate the actual crimes committed. I think it is time for US attorneys and the Atty. Gen. of each state to revisit the issue of prosecution of the major Wall Street banks.

With the passage of time we have all had an opportunity to examine the theory of “too big to fail.” As applied, this theory has prevented prosecutions for criminal acts. But more importantly it is allowing and promoting those crimes to be covered up and new crimes to be committed in and out of the court system. A quick review of the current strategy utilized in foreclosure reveals that nearly all foreclosures are based on false assumptions, no facts,  and a blind desire for expediency that  sacrifices access to the courts and due process. The losers are the pension funds that mistakenly invested into this scheme and the borrowers who were used as pawns in a gargantuan Ponzi scheme that literally exceeded all the money in the world.

Let’s look at one of the fundamental strategies of the banks. Remember that the investment banks were merely intermediaries who were supposedly functioning as broker-dealers. As in any securities transaction, the investor places in order and is responsible for payment to the broker-dealer. The broker-dealer tenders payment to the seller. The seller either issues the securities (if it is an issuer) or delivers the securities. The bank takes the money from the investors and doesn’t deliver it to an issuer or seller, but instead uses the money for its own purposes, this is not merely breach of contract —  it is fraud.

And that is exactly what the investors, insurers, government guarantors and other parties have alleged in dozens of lawsuits and hundreds of claims. Large banks have avoided judgment based on these allegations by settling the cases and claims for hundreds of billions of dollars because that is only a fraction of the money they diverted from investors and continue to divert. This continued  diversion is accomplished, among other ways, through the process of foreclosure. I would argue that the lawsuits filed by government-sponsored entities are evidence of an administrative finding of fact that causes the burden of proof to be shifted to the cloud of participants who assert that they are part of a scheme of securitization when in fact they were part of a Ponzi scheme.

This cloud of participants is managed in part by LPS in Jacksonville. If you are really looking for the source of documentation and the choice of plaintiff or forecloser, this would be a good place to start. You will notice that in both judicial and non-judicial settings, there is a single party designated as the apparent creditor. But where the homeowner is proactive and brings suit against multiple entities each of whom have made a claim relating to the alleged loan, the banks stick with presenting a single witness who is “familiar with the business records.” That phrase has been specifically rejected in most jurisdictions as proving the personal knowledge necessary for a finding that the witness is competent to testify or to authenticate documents that will be introduced in evidence. Those records are hearsay and they lack the legal foundation for introduction and acceptance into evidence in the record.

So even where the lawsuit is initiated by “the cloud” and even where they allege that the plaintiff is the servicer and even where they allege that the plaintiff is a trust, the witness presented at trial is a professional witness hired by the servicer. Except for very recent cases, lawyers for the homeowner have ignored the issue of whether the professional witness is truly competent,  and especially why the court should even be listening to a professional witness from the servicer when it is hearing nothing from the creditor. The business records which are proffered to the court as being complete are nothing of the sort. They are documents prepared for trial which is specifically excluded from evidence under the hearsay rule and an exception to the business records exception. And the easy proof is that they are missing payments to the investor. That is why discovery should be aggressive.

Lately Chase has been dancing around these issues by first asserting that it is the owner of a loan by virtue of the merger with Washington Mutual. As the case progresses Chase admits that it is a servicer. Later they often state that the investor is Fannie Mae. This is an interesting assertion which depends upon complete ignorance by opposing counsel for the homeowner and the same ignorance on the part of the judge. Fannie Mae is not and never has been a lender. It is a guarantor, whose liability arises after the loss has been completely established following the foreclosure sale and liquidation to a third-party. It is also a master trustee for securitized trusts. To say that Fannie Mae is the owner of the alleged loan is most likely an admission that the originator never loaned any money and that therefore the note and mortgage are invalid. It is also intentional obfuscation of the rights of the investors and trusts.

The multiple positions of Chase is representative of most other cases regardless of the name used for the identification of the alleged plaintiff, who probably doesn’t even know the action exists. That is why I suggested some years ago that a challenge to the right to represent the alleged plaintiff would be both appropriate and desirable. The usual answer is that the attorney represents all interested parties. This cannot be true because there is an obvious conflict of interest between the servicer, the trust, the guarantor, the trustee, and the broker-dealer that so far has never been named. Lawsuits filed by trust beneficiaries, guarantors, FDIC and insurers demonstrate this conflict of interest with great clarity.

I wonder if you should point out that if Chase was the Servicer, how could they not know who they were paying? As Servicer their role was to collect payments and send them to the creditor. If the witness or nonexistent verifier was truly familiar with the records, the account would show a debit to the account for payment to Fannie Mae or the securitized trust that was the actual source of funds for either the origination or acquisition of loans. And why would they not have shown that?  The reason is that no such payment was made. If any payment was made it was to the investors in the trust that lies behind the Fannie Mae curtain.

And if the “investor” had in fact received loss sharing payment from the FDIC, insurance or other sources how would the witness have known about that? Of course they don’t know because they have nothing to do with observing the accounts of the actual creditor. And while I agree that only actual payments as opposed to hypothetical payments should be taken into account when computing the principal balance and applicable interest on the loan, the existence of terms and conditions that might allow or require those hypothetical payments are sufficient to guarantee the right to discovery as to whether or not they were paid or if the right to payment has already accrued.

I think the argument about personal knowledge of the witness can be strengthened. The witness is an employee of Chase — not WAMU and not Fannie Mae. The PAA is completely silent about  the loans. Most of the loans were subjected to securitization anyway so WAMU couldn’t have “owned” them at any point in the false trail of securitization. If Chase is alleging that Fannie Mae in the “investor” then you have a second reason to say that both the servicing rights and the right to payment of principal, interest or monthly payments in doubt as to the intermediary banks in the cloud. So her testimony was hearsay on hearsay without any recognizable exception. She didn’t say she was custodian of records for anyone. She didn’t say how she had personal knowledge of Chase records, and she made no effort to even suggest she had any personal knowledge of the records of Fannie and WAMU — which is exactly the point of your lawsuit or defense.

If the Defendant/Appellee’s argument were to be accepted, any one of several defendants could deny allegations made against all the defendants individually just by producing a professional witness who would submit self-serving sworn affidavits from only one of the defendants. The result would thus benefit some of the “represented parties” at the expense of others.

Their position is absurd and the court should not be used and abused in furtherance of what is at best a shady history of the loan. The homeowner challenges them to give her the accurate information concerning ownership and balance, failing which there was no basis for a claim of encumbrance against her property. The court, using improper reasoning and assumptions, essentially concludes that since someone was the “lender” the Plaintiff had no cause of action and could not prove her case even if she had a cause of action. If the trial court is affirmed, Pandora’s box will be opened using this pattern of court conduct and Judge rulings as precedent not only in foreclosure actions, disputes over all types of loans, but virtually all tort actions and most contract actions.

Specifically it will open up a new area of moral hazard that is already filled with debris, to wit: debt collectors will attempt to insert themselves in the collection of money that is actually due to an existing creditor who has not sold the debt to the collector. As long as the debt collector moves quickly, and the debtor is unsophisticated, the case with the debt collector will be settled at the expense of the actual creditor. This will lead to protracted litigation as to the authority of the debt collector and the liability of the debtor as well as the validity of any settlement.

Quite a Stew: Wells Fargo Pressure Cooker for Sales and Fabricated Documents

Wells Fargo Investigated by 4 Agencies for Manual on Fabricating Foreclosure Documents

Wells Fargo is under investigation for a lot of things these days, just as we find in Bank of America and other major “institutions.” The bottom line is that they haven’t been acting very institutional and their culture is one that has led to fraud, identity theft and outright fabrication of accounts and documents.

There can be little doubt about it. Documents that a real bank acting like a bank would have in its possession appear to be completely absent in most if not all loans that are “performing” (i.e., the homeowner is paying, even if the party they are paying isn’t the right and even if the loan has already been paid off). But as soon as the file becomes subject to foreclosure proceedings, documents miraculously appear showing endorsements, allonges, powers of attorney and assignments. According to a report from The Real Deal (New York Real Estate News), these are frequently referred to as “ta-da endorsements” a reference from magic acts where rabbits are pulled from the hat.

Such endorsements and other fabricated documents have been taken at face value by many judges across the country, despite vigorous protests from homeowners who were complaining about everything from “they didn’t have the documents before, so where did they get them?” to luring homeowners into false modifications that were designed to trap homeowners into foreclosure.

After 7 years of my reporting on the fact that the documents do not exist, including a report from Katherine Anne Porter at what was then the University of Iowa that the documents were intentionally destroyed and “lost” it has finally dawned on regulators and law enforcement that something is wrong. They could have done the same thing that I did. I had inquiries from hundreds (back then, now thousands) of homeowners looking for help.

So the first thing I did was I  sent qualified written requests to the parties who were claiming to be the “lenders.” After sending out hundreds of these the conclusion was inescapable. Any loan where the homeowner was continuing to make their payments have no documentation. Any loan where the homeowner was in the process of foreclosure had documentation of appear piece by piece as it seemed to be needed in court. This pattern of fabrication of documents was pandemic by 2007 and 2008. They were making this stuff up as they went along.

It has taken seven years for mainstream media and regulators to ask the next obvious question, to wit: why would the participants in an industry based on trust and highly complex legal instruments created by them fall into patterns of conduct in which nobody trusted them and where the legal instruments were lost, destroyed and then fabricated? In my seminars I phrased the question differently. The question I posed is that if you had a $10 bill in your hand, why would you stick it in a shredder? The promissory note and the other documents from the alleged loan closings were the equivalent of cash, according to all legal and common sense standards. Why would you destroy it?

As I said in 2008 and continue saying in 2014, the only reason you would destroy the $10 bill is that you had told somebody you were holding something other than a $10 bill. Perhaps you told them it was a $100 bill. Now they want to see it. Better to “lose” the original bill then admit that you were lying in the first place. One is simple negligence (losing it) and the other is criminal fraud (lying about it). The banking industry practically invented all of the procedures and legal papers associated with virtually every type of loan. The processing of loans has been the backbone of the banking industry for hundreds of years. Did they forget how to do it?

The answers to these questions are both inconvenient and grotesque. I know from my past experience on Wall Street that bankers did not deserve the trust that everyone seemed to repose in them. But this conduct went far beyond anything I ever saw on Wall Street. The answer is simply that the bankers traded trust for money. They defrauded the investors, most of whom were stable managed funds guarding the pensions of millions of people. Then they defrauded homeowners creating a pressure cooker of sales culture in which banking evolved simply into marketing and sales. Risk analysis and risk control were lost in the chaos.

The very purpose for which banks came into existence was to have a place of safety in which you could deposit your money with the knowledge that it would still be there when you came back. Investors were lured into a scheme in which they thought their money was being used to fund trusts; those trusts issued mortgage bonds that in most cases were never certificated. In most cases the trust received no money, no assets and no income. The fund managers who were the investors  never had a chance.

The money from the investors was instead kept by the broker-dealers who then traded with it like drunken sailors. They pumped up real estate PRICES  far above real estate VALUES, based on any reasonable appraisal standards. The crash would come, and they knew it. So after lying to the investor lenders and lying to the homeowner borrowers they lied to the insurers, guarantors, co-obligors and counterparties to credit default swaps that had evolved from intelligent hedge products to high flying overly complicated contracts that spelled out “heads I win, tails you lose.”

In order to do all of that they needed to claim the loans and the bonds as though they were owned by the broker-dealers when in fact the broker-dealers were merely the investment banks that had taken the money from investors and instead of using it in the way that the investors were told, they created the illusion (by lying) of the scheme that was called securitization when in fact it was basically common fraud, identity theft of both the lenders and borrowers, in a Ponzi scheme. When Marc Dreier was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $400 million but it was the larger scheme of its kind ever recorded.

When Bernard Madoff was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $60 billion, but the general consensus was that this was the largest fraud in history and would maintain that status for generations. But when the Madoff scandal was revealed it was obvious that members of the banking industry had to be involved; what was not so obvious is that the banking industry itself had already committed a combination of identity theft, fraud and corruption that was probably 300 times the size of the Madoff scandal.

The assumption that these are just loans that were to be enforced just like any other loans is naïve. The lending process described in the paperwork at the closings of these loans was a complete lie. The actual lender did not know the closing had occurred, never received the note and mortgage, nor any other instrument that protected the investor lenders. The borrower did not know the actual lender existed. Closing agent was at best negligent and at worst part of the scheme. Closing agent applied money from the investors to the closing of the “loan” and gave the paperwork that should’ve gone to the investors to third parties who didn’t have a dime invested in the deal. Later the investment banks would claim that they were suffering losses, but it was a lie, this time to the taxpayers and the government.

The reason the investment banks need to fabricate documentation is simply because their scheme required multiple sales of the same loan to multiple parties. They had to wait until they couldn’t wait any longer in order to pick a plaintiff to file a foreclosure lawsuit or pick a beneficiary who would appear out of nowhere to start the nonjudicial sale of property in which they were a complete stranger to the transaction.

The reason that homeowners should win in any reasonable challenge to a foreclosure action is that neither the forecloser nor the balance has been correctly stated. In many cases the balance “owed” by the borrower is negative! Yes that means that money is owed back to the borrower even know they stopped making payments. This is so counter intuitive that it is virtually impossible for most people to wrap their brains around this concept and that is exactly what Wall Street banks have been counting on and using against us for years.

LA Times Report on Wells Fargo Sales Culture

Is Donald Duck Your Lender?

 

I was asked a question a few days ago that runs to the heart of the problem for the banks in enforcing false claims for foreclosure and false claims of losses that should really allocated to the investors so that the investor would get the benefits of those loss mitigation payments. This is the guts of the complaints by insurers, investors, guarantors et al against the investment banks — that there was fraud, not breach of contract, because the investment bank never intended to follow the plan of securitization set forth in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement. The question asked of me only reached the issue of whether borrowers could claim credit for third party payments to the creditor. But the answer, as you will see, branches much further out than the scope of the question.

If you look at Steinberger in Arizona and recent case decisions in other jurisdictions you will see that if third party payments are received by the creditor, they must be taken into account — meaning the account receivable on their books is reduced by the amount of the payment received. If the account receivable is reduced then it is axiomatic that the account payable from the borrower is correspondingly reduced. Each debt must be taken on its own terms. So if the reduction was caused by a payment from a third party, it is possible that the third party might have a claim against the borrower for having made the payment — but that doesn’t change the fact that the payment was made and received and that the debt to the trust or trust beneficiaries has been reduced or even eliminated.

The Court rejected the argument that the borrower was not an intended third party beneficiary in favor of finding that the creditor could only be paid once on the debt. I am finding that most trial judges agree that if loss-sharing payments were made, including servicer advances (which actually come from the broker dealer to cover up the poor condition of the portfolio), the account is reduced as to that creditor. The court further went on to agree that the “servicer” or whoever made the payment might have an action for unjust enrichment against the borrower — but that is a not a cause of action that is part of the foreclosure or the mortgage. The payment, whether considered volunteer or otherwise, is credited to the account receivable of the creditor and the borrower’s liability is corresponding reduced. In the case of servicer payments, if the creditor’s account is showing the account current because it received the payment that was due, then the creditor cannot claim a default.

A new “loan” is created when a volunteer or contractual payment is received by the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries. This loan arises by operation of law because it is presumed that the payment was not a gift. Thus the party who made that payment probably has a cause of action against the borrower for unjust enrichment, or perhaps contribution, but that claim is decidedly unsecured by a mortgage or deed of trust.

You have to think about the whole default thing the way the actual events played out. The creditor is the trust or the group of trust beneficiaries. They are owed payments as per the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreements. If those payments are current there is no default on the books of creditor. If the balance has been reduced by loss- sharing or insurance payment, the balance due and the accrued interest are correspondingly reduced. And THAT means the notice of default and notice of sale and acceleration are all wrong in terms of the figures they are using. The insurmountable problem that is slowly being recognized by the courts is that the default, from the perspective of the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries is a default under a contract between the trust beneficiaries and the trust.

This is the essential legal problem that the broker dealers (investment banks) caused when they interposed themselves as owners instead of what they were supposed to be — intermediaries, depositories, and agents of the investors (trust beneficiaries). The default of the borrower is irrelevant to whether the trust beneficiaries have suffered a loss due to default in payment from the trust. The borrower never promised that he or she or they would make payment to the trust or the trust beneficiaries — and that is the fundamental flaw in the actual mortgage process that prevailed for more than a dozen years. There would be no flaw if the investment banks had not committed fraud and instead of protecting investors, they diverted the money, ownership of the note and ownership of the mortgage or deed of trust to their own controlled vehicles. If the plan had been followed, the trusts and trust beneficiaries would have direct rights to collect from borrowers and foreclose on their property.

If the investment banks had not intended to divert the money, income, notes and mortgages or deeds of trust from the creditor trust or trust beneficiaries, then there would have no allegations of fraud from the investors, insurers and government guarantee agencies.

If the investment banks had done what was represented in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreements, then the borrower would have known that the loan was being originated for or on behalf of the trust or beneficiaries and so would the rest of the world have known that. The note and mortgage would have shown, at origination, that the loan was payable to the trust and the mortgage or deed of trust was for the benefit of the trust or trust beneficiaries, as required by TILA and all the compensation earned by people associated with the origination of the loan would have had to have been disclosed (or returned to the borrower for failure to disclose). That would have connected the source of the loan — the trust or trust beneficiaries — to the receipt of the funds (the homeowner borrowers).

Instead, the investment banks hit on a nominee strawman plan where the disclosures were not made and where they could claim that (1) the investment bank was the owner of the debt and (2) the note and mortgage or deed of trust were executed for the benefit of a nominee strawman for the investment bank, who then claimed an insurable interest as owner of the debt. As owner of the debt, the investment banks received loss sharing payments from the FDIC. As agents for the investors those payments should have been applied to the balance owed the investors with a corresponding reduction in the balance due from the borrower —- if the payments were actually made and received and were not hypothetical or speculative. The investment banks did the same thing with the bonds, collecting payments from insurers, counterparties to credit default swaps, and guarantees from government sponsored entities.

When I say nominee or strawman I do not merely mean MERS which would have been entirely unnecessary unless the investment banks had intended to defraud the investors. What I am saying is that even the “lender” for whom MERS was the “nominee” falls into the same trapdoor. That lender was also merely a nominee which means that, as I said 7 years ago, they might just as well have made out the note and mortgage to Donald Duck, a fictitious character.

Since no actual lender was named in the note and mortgage and the terms of repayment were actually far different than what was stated on the borrower’s promissory note (i.e., the terms of the mortgage bond were the ONLY terms applicable to the plan of repayment to the creditor investors), the loan contract (or quasi loan contract, depending upon which jurisdiction you are in) was never completed. Hence the mortgage and note should never have been accepted into the file by the closing agent, much less recorded.

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Damages Rising: Wrongful Foreclosure Costs Wells Fargo $3.2 Million

Damage awards for wrongful foreclosure are rising across the country. In New Mexico a judge issued a $3.2 million judgment (including $2.7 million in punitive damages) against Wells Fargo for foreclosing on a man’s home after his death even though he had an insurance policy through the bank that paid the remaining balance on his mortgage. The balance “owed” on the mortgage was $125,000. Despite the fact that the bank knew about the insurance (because it was purchased through the bank) Wells Fargo continued to pursue foreclosure, ignoring the claim for insurance. It is because of cases like this that people are asking “why would they do that?”

The answer is what I’ve been saying for years.  Where a loan is subject to claims of securitization, and the investment banks lied to insurers, investors, guarantors and other co-obligors, they most likely have been paid many times for the same loan and never gave credit to the investors. By not crediting the investors they created the illusion of a higher balance that was due on the loan. They also created the illusion of a default that probably never occurred. But by pursuing foreclosure and foreclosure sale, they compounded the illusion and avoided claims for refund and repayment received from third parties and created claims for recovery of servicer advances. In many foreclosures that I have  reviewed, payments received from the FDIC under loss-sharing were never taken into account. Thus the bank collects money repeatedly for a loss it never incurred.

This case is another example of why I insist on following the money. By following the money trail you will discover that the documents upon which the foreclosure relies referred to  fictitious transactions. The documents are worthless, but nevertheless accepted in court unless a proper objection is made based upon preserving issues for trial and appeal by proper pleading and discovery.

Lawyers should take note of this profit opportunity. Most homeowners are looking for attorneys to take cases on contingency. Typical contingency fee is 40%. If these lawyers were on a typical contingency fee arrangement, their payday would have been around $1.2 million.

I should add that for every one of these judgments that are reported, I hear about dozens of confidential settlements that are of similar nature, to wit: clear title on the house, damages and attorneys fees.

Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $3.2 Million for “Shocking” Foreclosure

Who Has the Power to Execute a Satisfaction and Release of Mortgage?

 The answer to that question is that probably nobody has the right to execute a satisfaction of mortgage. That is why the mortgage deed needs to be nullified. In the typical situation the money was taken from investors and instead of using it to fund the REMIC trust, the broker-dealer used it as their own money and funded the origination or acquisition of loans that did not qualify under the terms proposed in the prospectus given to investors. Since the money came from investors either way (regardless of whether their money was put into the trust) the creditor is that group of investors. Instead, neither the investors or even the originator received the original note at the “closing” because neither one had any legal interest in the note. Thus neither one had any interest in the mortgage despite the fact that the nominee at closing was named as “lender.”

This is why so many cases get settled after the borrower aggressively seeks discovery.

The name of the lender on the note and the mortgage was often some other entity used as a bankruptcy remote vehicle for the broker-dealer, who for purposes of trading and insurance represented themselves to be the owner of the loans and mortgage bonds that purportedly derive their value from the loans. Neither representation was true. And the execution of fabricated, forged and unauthorized assignments or endorsements does not mean that there is any underlying business transaction with offer, acceptance and consideration. Hence, when a Court order is entered requiring that the parties claiming rights under the note and mortgage prove their claim by showing the money trail, the case is dropped or settled under seal of confidentiality.

The essential problem for enforcement of a note and mortgage in this scenario is that there are two deals, not one. In the first deal the investors agreed to lend money based upon a promise to pay from a trust that was never funded, has no assets and has no income. In the second deal the borrower promises to pay an entity that never loaned any money, which means that they were not the lender and should not have been put on the mortgage or note.

Since the originator is an agent of the broker-dealer who was not acting within the course and scope of their relationship with the investors, it cannot be said that the originator was a nominee for the investors. It isn’t legal either. TILA requires disclosure of all parties to the deal and all compensation. The two deals were never combined at either level. The investor/lenders were never made privy to the real terms of the mortgages that violated the terms of the prospectus and the borrower was not privy to the terms of repayment from the Trust to the investors and all the fees that went with the creation of multiple co-obligors where there had only been one in the borrower’s “closing.”.

The identity of the lender was intentionally obfuscated. The identity of the borrower was also intentionally obfuscated. Neither party would have completed the deal in most cases if they had actually known what was going on. The lender would have objected not only to the underwriting standards but also because their interest was not protected by a note and mortgage. The borrower  would have been alerted to the fact that huge fees were being taken along the false securitization trail. The purpose of TILA is to avoid that scenario, to wit: borrower should have a choice as to the parties with whom he does business. Those high feelings would have alerted the borrower to seek an alternative loan elsewhere with less interest and greater security of title —  or not do the deal at all because the loan should never have been underwritten or approved.

Discovery and Due Process in California

I produced a memorandum as an expert witness and consultant in litigation support for a lawyer in California that after re-reading it, I think would be helpful in all foreclosure litigation. I have excerpted paragraphs from the memo and I present here for your use.

Plaintiff/Appellant has pre-empted the opposing parties with a lawsuit that seeks to determine with finality the status and ownership of her loan. She has received, in and out of court, conflicting answers to her questions. The Defendant/Appellees continue to stonewall her attempt to get simple answers to simple questions — to whom does she owe money and how much money does she owe after all appropriate credits from payments received by the creditor on her mortgage loan.

 

She does not take the position that money is not owed to anyone. She asserts that the opposing parties to this litigation are unable and unwilling to provide any actual transaction information in which the subject loan was originated, transferred or acquired. If she is right none of them can issue a satisfaction and release of mortgage without further complicating a tortuous chain of title — and none of them had any right to collect any money from her. A natural question arising out of this that Plaintiff/Appellant seeks to answer is who is the creditor and have they been paid? If they have been paid or their agents have been paid, how much were they paid and on what terms if the payments were from third parties who were strangers to the original loan contract between the Plaintiff/Appellant and the apparent originator.

 

She asserts that based upon the limited information available to her that the original debt that arose (by operation of law) when she received the benefits of a loan was mischaracterized from the beginning, and has changed steadily over time. She asserts that the “originator” was a sham nominee and the closing documents were both misrepresented as to the identity of the lender, and incomplete because of the failure to disclose the real terms of a loan that at best would be described as partially represented on a promissory note and partially represented on a certificated or uncertificated “mortgage bond.”

 

Neither the actual lender/investors nor the homeowner/borrower were parties to the contract for lending in which the Plaintiff/Appellant was a real party in interest.  And the homeowner/borrower in this case was not party to the promise to repay issued to the actual lenders (investors) who advanced the money. The investor/lenders were party to a bond indenture, prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement, while the borrower was party to a promissory note and deed of trust. It is only by combining the two —- the bond and the note — that the full terms of the transaction emerge — something that the major banks seek to avoid at all costs.

 

When it suits them they characterize it as one cloud of related transactions in which there is a mysterious logic, and when it suits them otherwise they assert that the transactions and documents are not a cloud at all but rather a succession of unrelated individual transactions. Hence they can foreclose under the cloud theory, but under the theory of individual (step) transactions, they don’t have to account for the receipt of exorbitant compensation through tier 2 yield spread premiums, the receipt of insurance, servicer advances, credit default swaps, over-collateralization, cross collateralization, guarantees and other hedge contracts; under this theory they were not acting as agents for the investors (whom they had already defrauded) when they received payments from third parties who thought that the losses on the bonds and loans were losses of the banks — because those banks selling mortgage bonds, while serving as intermediaries, created the illusion that the trillions of dollars invested in mortgage bonds was actually owned equitably and legally by the banks.

 

Plaintiff/Appellant seeks to resolve this conflict with finality so she can move on with her life and property.

 

 If she is right, several debts arose out of the subject transaction and probably none of them were secured by a valid deed of trust or mortgage. If she is right the issues with her mortgage debt have been mitigated and she can settle that with finality and it is possible that she owes other parties on unsecured debts who made payments on account of this loan, by reason of contracts to which the Plaintiff/Appellant was not a party but which should have been disclosed in the initial loan contract. In simply lay language she wants an accounting from the real creditor who would lose money if they did not receive payment or credit toward the balance due on the loan for principal and interest.

 

If she is wrong, then the loan is merely one debt, secured by a valid deed of trust. But one wonders why the banks have steadfastly stonewalled any attempts to establish this as a simple fact by producing the actual record of transactions and passage of money exchanging hands in real transactions that support any appearance or presumption of validity of the documents that are being used by her opposition to claim the right to collect on the loan that she freely admits occurred. Why did the bank oppose her attempts at discovery before litigation and after litigation began?

 

If she is wrong and no third party payments were made, then the bookkeeping and accounting entries of the opposition would show that the loan was posted as loan receivable, with an appropriate reserve for default on the balance sheet, and there would be an absence of any documentation showing transfer or attempted transfer of the loan to a party who actually was the source of funds for the origination or acquisition of the loan. The same books and records would show an absence of any entries that reduce the balance due on the loan. And the loan file correspondence of the opposition would not have any reference to fees earned for servicing the loan on behalf of a third party and the income statement would have no underlying bookkeeping entries for receiving fees for acting as the lender, acting as the servicer or acting as a trustee.

 

In some ways this is an ordinary case regarding a deprivation of due process in connection with the potential forfeiture of property and present denial of access to the courts. She is left with both an inability to determine the status of her title, whether it is superior to any claim of encumbrance from the recorded deed of trust, the status of the ownership of her loan where she could obtain a satisfaction of mortgage from a party who either was the creditor or properly represented the creditor, or whether her existing claims evolve into other claims under tort or contract — i.e., a consequent forfeiture of potential claims against the Appellant’s opposing party. For example, by denying the Plaintiff/Appellant’s motions to compel discovery, Plaintiff/Appellant was denied access to information that would have either settled the matter or provided Plaintiff/Appellant with the information with which to prove her existing claims and would most likely have revealed further causes of action. The information concerning the ownership status of her loan, and the true balance of her loan is essentially the gravamen of her claim.

 

But if, as she suspects and has alleged, the parties purporting to be the lender or successor to the lender have engaged in no actual transactions in which the loan was originated or acquired, then the claims and documents upon which her opposition relies, are obviously a sham. This in turn prevents her from being able to contact her real lender for satisfaction, refinance, or modification of her loan under any factual scenario — because the parties with whom she is dealing are intentionally withholding information that would enable her to do so. Hence their claims and documents would constitute the basis for slander of title if she is right about the actual status and balance of her loan.

 

Her point is not that this Court should award her a judgment — but only the opportunity to complete discovery that would act as the foundation fro introduction of appropriate testimony and evidence proving her case. The trial court below essentially acted in conflict with itself. While upholding her claims as being sufficient to state causes of action, it denied her the ability to conduct full discovery to prove her claim.

 

Hagar v. Reclamation Dist., 111 U.S. 701, 708 (1884). “Due process of law is [process which], following the forms of law, is appropriate to the case and just to the parties affected. It must be pursued in the ordinary mode prescribed by law; it must be adapted to the end to be attained; and whenever necessary to the protection of the parties, it must give them an opportunity to be heard respecting the justice of the judgment sought. Any legal proceeding enforced by public authority, whether sanctioned by age or custom or newly devised in the discretion of the legislative power, which regards and preserves these principles of liberty and justice, must be held to be due process of law.” Id. at 708; Accord, Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 537 (1884).

685 Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 101 (1908); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899). “A process of law, which is not otherwise forbidden, must be taken to be due process of law, if it can show the sanction of settled usage both in England and this country.” Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. at 529.

686 Twining, 211 U.S. at 101.

687 Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 529 (1884); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899); Anderson Nat’l Bank v. Luckett, 321 U.S. 233, 244 (1944).

Non-Judicial Proceedings.—A court proceeding is not a requisite of due process.688 Administrative and executive proceedings are not judicial, yet they may satisfy the due process clause.689 Moreover, the due process clause does not require de novo judicial review of the factual conclusions of state regulatory agencies,690 and may not require judicial review at all.691 Nor does the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit a State from conferring judicial functions upon non-judicial bodies, or from delegating powers to a court that are legislative in nature.692 Further, it is up to a State to determine to what extent its legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be kept distinct and separate.693

The Requirements of Due Process.—Although due process tolerates variances in procedure “appropriate to the nature of the case,”694 it is nonetheless possible to identify its core goals and requirements. First, “[p]rocedural due process rules are meant to protect persons not from the deprivation, but from the mistaken or unjustified deprivation of life, liberty, or property.”695 Thus, the required elements of due process are those that “minimize substantively unfair or mistaken deprivations” by enabling persons to contest the basis upon which a State proposes to deprive them of protected interests.696 The core of these requirements is notice and a hearing before an impartial tribunal. Due process may also require an opportunity for confrontation and cross-examination, and for discovery; that a decision be made based on the record, and that a party be allowed to be represented by counsel.

688 Ballard v. Hunter, 204 U.S. 241, 255 (1907); Palmer v. McMahon, 133 U.S. 660, 668 (1890).

 

PICK-A-PARTY — BOA – RED OAK – Countrywide Merger Revealed in all its “Glory”

Maybe now I will get something other than a blank look when I referred to anomalies in what appears to be the merger of Bank of America with Countrywide. For about 18 months now I have been saying that there is something wrong with that report, because the documents in the public domain show two things, to wit: first, that BAC was merely a name change for Countrywide;  and second, it appears to be a merger between Red Oak Merger Corp. and Countrywide.  My conclusion was that Bank of America was claiming what it wanted depending upon the circumstances and disregarding the actual transactions. In fact, in various court actions ranging from foreclosures to investor and insurer lawsuits over bogus mortgage bonds, Bank of America was submitting documents referring to agreements that referred to fictional transactions.

This behavior should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the actions and statements of the major banks throughout the financial crisis.  The various positions asserted by Bank of America in court actions around the country contradict each other and are obviously intended to mislead the court. It is for that reason that I have maintained the position that any benefit claimed by Bank of America by virtue of its alleged merger with Countrywide should be tested thoroughly in discovery.  Lawyers, judges and borrowers should stop assuming that if the bank says something it must be true. My position is that if a bank says something it probably is not true or it is misleading or both.

This is not merely some technical objection. This issue runs to the heart of our title system. There are many of us who are sending up warning flares. Judges, attorneys, title agents, and other experts have examined this issue and concluded that we are headed for a crash of the recording system that will undermine the title and priority of owners and lenders.

Thanks to one of my readers, I obtained the following quote and link which requires substantial study and analysis to see how this will impact any case in which  your opposition is Bank of America.

BAC is not just a “shareholder” of
Countrywide, as it argued to the Court at the outset of the case.
Then from Charles Koppa on the idiotic practice of allowing a controlled company or subsidiary be substituted for the trustee on the deed of trust on record — namely in this case Bank of America (AGAIN) who owns and controls Recontrust. SO in this case, like nearly all of the non-judicial situations, pick-a-party: the beneficiary on the deed of trust vanishes and is replaced with a “new beneficiary” by fiat more than anything in fact. Then the new beneficiary effectively names itself as the new trustee on the deed of trust. THIS PRACTICE SHOULD BE CHALLENGED AND NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO DO IT. THE COURTS ARE GETTING WISE TO THESE ANTICS.
From Koppa:
ReconTrust is “owned” by Bank of America Corporation.
 
Bank National Associations are governed by The Office of Controller of The Currency.
Anything on ReconTrust, NA?  It should be Governed by OCC, part of the US Treasury Dept (NOT the SEC)?
 
If ReconTrust is a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation…. This is NOT Bank of America, “NA”or “BANA”.  So, which are THEY??
How can one “NA”= National Association, own a second “NA”.  Looks like self-dealing to us whistleblowers! 
Jes Thinkin: Who receives proceeds of lien foreclosure sales conducted by ReconTrust  which become REO re-sales of Land Titles @ 100% profit??
Who receives proceeds from Trustee Sales to third parties where “bid purchase proceeds” are delivered to ReconTrust @ 100% profit (to WHO)???
 
OPINION 1: Add common ownership by BANA of LandSafe Title for “corrections” on all ReconTrust foreclosure land title transactions; means possible crimes of “Conversion”.  Borrowers real property Trust Deed/Mortgage (a hard record asset) transfers via MERS/REMIC and off-balance sheet accounting into purported RMBS Products via Bank of America Securities, etc. as a non-transparent new soft asset class, which funds lien security investment credits without reference to the borrower.
 
Opinion 2: Countrywide/BAC converts “loan obligations debt” with homeowners… into pre-funded aggregated “securities credits” assigned to affiliated servicers by the Sponsor of the SEC Prospectus (Like BANA).  Upon loan default servicer changes hats and squires foreclosure liquidation of the fabricated “lien security” (under SEC).  This delivers “huge profits” beyond the REMIC Trust —- via BAC Home Loans and “controlled servicers” named by the Shadow Sponsor.  Affiliated servicer names ReconTrust as a self-substituted Foreclosure Trustee which seems to be clear of all regulation and criminality!!
 
Opinion 3:  Double income on a single transaction = “Embezzlement”.  20% Real Estate Equity is confiscated into the RBMS via “identity theft”of innocent homeowners using proceeds to the REMIC via the FED discount process! 
 
Opinion 4:  Vertical integration of all steps accomplishes “conversion for purposes of embezzlement”, which violates Anti-Trust Act, RICO, mail/wire fraud, etc.  What part of organized crime might IRS, OCC and SEC regulators actually understand when the California18 brings legal action via the evidence against ReconTrust prepared in vain for CA-AG Harris a year ago?
 
What is your opinion?
 
Charles J. Koppa 760-787-9966, www.TitleTrail.com

Glaski Court refuses to “depublish” decision, two judges recuse themselves.

Corroborating what I have been saying for years on this blog, the Supreme Court of the state of California is reasserting its position that if entity ABC wants to collect on a debt in California, then that particular entity must own the debt. This is basic common sense and simply follows article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. If a court were to adopt the position of the banks, then a new industry would be born, to wit: spying on people to determine whether or not they are behind on any payment to anyone and then beating the real creditor to court, filing a complaint and getting a judgment without the real creditor even knowing about it. The Supreme Court of the state of California obviously understands this.

This is not really complicated although the words used are complicated. If you find out that your neighbor is behind in payments on their credit cards, it is obvious that you cannot serve your neighbor and collect. You don’t own the debt because you never loaned any money and because you never purchased the debt. If you are allowed to sue and collect on the credit card debt, you and the court would be committing a fraud on the actual creditor. This is why it is absurd for lawyers or judges to say “what difference does it make who they owe the debt to?  They stopped making payments and they are clearly in default.”  Any lawyer or judge makes that statement is wrong. It lacks the foundation of the factual determinations required to establish the existence of the debt, the current balance of the debt after deductions for all payments received from all parties on this account, and the ownership of the debt.

In the first year of law school, we learned that the note is not the debt.  The note is evidence of the debt and the terms of repayment but it is not a substitute for the actual transaction documents. Those transaction documents would have to include proof of transfer of consideration, which in this case would mean wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions. The banks don’t want to show the court this because it will show that the originator in most cases never made any loan at all and was merely serving as a sham nominee for an undisclosed lender. The banks are attempting to use this confusion to make themselves real parties in interest when in fact they were never more than intermediaries. And as intermediaries that misused their positions of trust to misrepresent and create fraudulent “mortgage bond” transactions with investors that led to fraudulent loans being made to borrowers.

The banks diverted or stole money from investors on several different levels through multiple channels of conduit sham entities that they called “bankruptcy remote vehicles.” The argument of “too big to fail” is now being rejected by the courts. That is a policy argument for the legislative branch of government. While the bank succeeded in scaring the executive and legislative branches into believing the risk of “too big to fail” most of the people in the legislative and executive branches of government on the federal and state level no longer subscribe to this myth.

There are dozens of other courts on the trial and appellate level across the country that are also grasping this issue. The position of the banks, which is been rejected by Congress and the state legislatures for good reason, would mean  the end of negotiable paper. The banks are desperate because they know they are not the owner of the debt, they are not the creditor, they have no authority to represent the creditor, and their actions are contrary to the interests of the creditor. They are pushing millions of homeowners into foreclosure, or luring them into an apparent default and foreclosure with false promises of modification and settlement.

The reason is simple. Without a foreclosure sale at auction, the banks are exposed to an enormous liability for all the money they collected on the alleged defaulted loans. The amount of the liability is vastly in excess of the entire principal of the loans, which is why I say that the major banks are publishing financial statements that are based on fictitious assets and fictitious income. Nobody can ignore the fact that the broker-dealers (investment banks) are getting sued by investors, insurers, counterparties on credit default swaps, government agencies who have already paid for alleged “losses”, and government agencies that have paid on guarantees for mortgages that did not conform to the required industry-standard underwriting practice.

This latest decision in which the Glaski court, at the request of the banks, revisited its prior decision and then reaffirmed it as a law of the land in the state of California, is evidence that the courts are turning the corner in favor of the real creditors and the real debtors. The recusal by two judges on the California Supreme Court is interesting but at this point there are no conclusions that can be drawn from that.

This opens the door in the state of California for people to regain title to their property or damages for the loss of title. It also serves to open the door to discovery of the actual money trail in order to trace real transactions as opposed to fictitious ones based upon fabricated documentation which often contain forgery, backdating, and are signed by people without authority or people claiming authority through a fictitious power of attorney.

Glaski Court Reaffirms Law of the Land In California: If you don’t own the debt, you cannot collect on it.

George W. Mantor Runs for Public Office on “No More Dirty Deeds”

Mantor for Assessor/Recorder/Clerk of San Diego County

Editor’s note: I don’t actually know Mantor so I cannot endorse him personally — but I DO endorse the idea of people running for office on actual issues instead of buzz words and media bullets.

Mantor is aiming straight for his issue by running for the Recorder’s Position. I think his aim is right and he seems to get the nub of some very important issues in the piece I received from him. I’d be interested in feedback on this campaign and if it is favorable, I might give a little juice to his campaign on the blog and my radio show.

His concern is my concern: that within a few years, we will all discover that most of us have defective title, even if we didn’t know there was a loan subject to claims of securitization in our title chain. This is not a phenomenon that affects one transaction at a time. It affects every transaction that took place after the last valid loan closing on every property. It doesn’t matter if it was subject to judicial or non-judicial sale because real property is not to be settled by damages but rather by actual title.

Many investors are buying up property believing they have eliminated the risk of loss by purchasing property either at or after the auction sale of the property. They might not be correct in that assumption. It depends upon the depth and breadth of the fraud. Right now, it seems very deep and very wide.

Here is one quote from Mantor that got my attention:

Despite the fact that everyone knows, despite the fact that they signed consent decrees promising not to steal homes, they go right on doing it.

Where is law enforcement, the Attorneys General, the regulators? They all know but they only prosecute the least significant offenders.

Foreclosures spiked 57% in California last month. How many of those were illegal? Most, if not all.

An audit of San Francisco County revealed one or more irregularities in 99% of the subject loans. In 84% of the loans, there appear to be one or more clear violations of law.

Fortune examined the foreclosures filed in two New York counties (Westchester and the Bronx) between 2006 and 2010.  There were130 cases where the Bank of New York was foreclosing on behalf of a Countrywide mortgage-backed security.  In 104 of those cases, the loan was originally made by Countrywide; the other 26 were made by other banks and sold to Countrywide for securitization.

None of the 104 Countrywide loans were endorsed by Countrywide – they included only the original borrower’s signature.  Two-thirds of the loans made by other banks also lacked bank endorsements.  The other third were endorsed either directly on the note or on an allonge, or a rider, accompanying the note.

No_More_Dirty_Deeds

Bank Lawyers Beware!

I know from past experience that the prosecuting attorneys at bar associations tend to move in packs. There is actually a pretty good reason for this. Certain practices by attorneys are emulated by other attorneys and spreads from state to state. Based upon a recent decision in New York State, I believe we’re going to see some serious prosecutions against attorneys for the pretender lenders.

In this case the censured attorney, David A. Cohen,  and his Long Island firm was trying to collect debts from people who weren’t already pay their bills or were not the ones who owed money to the firm’s client – creditors. I will concede that this is not the case against a foreclosure mill. And I think there is still political resistance to going after the lawyers  who represent the pretender lenders. But if you look at the reasoning in this case, it is not hard to see where the New York State Bar Association is going with this.

There were voluminous complaints about the firm spanning a 16 year period. That suggests that in cases where the homeowner believes that the attorney representing the pretender lender is violated ethical rules, or where the attorney for the homeowner believes that to be the case, a grievance should be filed.  But I caution people about doing this because they  frequently don’t know enough about the facts to be sure if a violation occurred.  It is unfair to attribute unethical conduct to an attorney who was merely advocating on behalf of a client and taking positions with which you do not agree. False filings will also create a paper jam in which the real filings for real violations get lost. SO don’t take this article as a green light to pepper the Bar Associations with vague grievances.

Cohen and his firm received numerous admonitions about his firm’s practices.

The court concluded in Matter of Cohen & Slamowitz, 2008-10218, that Cohen and Cohen & Slamowitz “engaged in a pattern and practice of conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice” under the Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(A)(5)(223 NYCRR 1200.3[a][5]. The judges said an attorney does not necessarily have to have personal knowledge of the specifics of his firm’s misconduct to be held responsible.“Even if the individual respondent lacked personal knowledge of the particular client matters … the pattern and practice of misconduct established at the hearing, which were pervasive within C&S [Cohen & Slamowitz] since 1996, were sufficient to impute such knowledge to him as senior partner of C&S,” [e.s.] the panel held in its per curiam ruling. The judges added that not only was Cohen personally advised in 2002 to “exercise caution,” “supervise [his] staff adequately,” and put in place “appropriate and reasonable procedures” that could be monitored, but he and his firm also received numerous letters of caution and admonition. The court said Cohen & Slamowitz has about 300 employees, including attorneys, paralegals and other staff.

Among the problems noted by the court was an attempt in 2005 to collect from a debtor identified as “Ghulam Mujtaba” of Flushing. The court said that Cohen & Slamowitz mistakenly pursued collection from Dr. Gholam Mujtaba of Corona.
 Given the various settlement and OCC consent decrees that have been entered against virtually all of the major banks and servicers, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the lawyers have not been put on notice of the existence of major defects in the claims of their clients. Unlike civil litigation, lawyers are held to a higher standard of behavior in connection with their practice of law. The ethical and disciplinary rules make it clear that the lawyer should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Here in this case, the court opened up the possibility for imputing knowledge to the attorney even though there are attempts to create compliance departments and other organizational tools that are meant to isolate the actual licensed attorneys from the illegal conduct perpetrated by their firm.
 If a bank came to me for representation in the foreclosure properties based upon loans that are subject to claims of securitization, I would make absolutely certain that there were procedures in effect within the bank to make sure that we were naming the right plaintiff, naming the right defendant, that a default was definitely present, and that we could account for the balance due. I would ask the bank “are you actually owed the money on this loan?”
 The use of professional witnesses that are hired specifically for that purpose is somewhat understandable given the volume of foreclosure litigation. What is not understandable or forgivable is hiring people specifically for the purpose of giving false testimony based upon records that were specially prepared for trial and not prepared in the ordinary course of business. It is improper and perhaps perjury to state that the entire business record is present when it clearly does not show the original loan transaction, all the transactions that occurred between the time of the loan closing and the filing of foreclosure, and all the transactions that occurred as disbursements to trust beneficiaries or other third parties. It is improper and perhaps perjury to state that the entire business record is present when the witness cannot state from personal knowledge or with the use of business records that qualify as an exception to the hearsay rule, that the record of disbursements is also present —  including all payments received by the alleged creditor.
 Some attorneys haven’t thrown under the bus, but there are dozens of other law firms that may be involved in the production or proffering of false, fraudulent, fabricated or forged documents.
 On the other hand it should be stated that withholding evidence is not necessarily a violation of the code of conduct for attorneys —  unless the withholding of that evidence results in making prior testimony or evidence subject to a charge of perjury. I don’t think that attorneys can or should be held to a standard in which their conduct is subject to variable interpretations. Any grievance filed on these grounds must be very specific as to what is being alleged is a violation. I publish this article merely as a prediction and warning that certain behavior which is now condoned in the foreclosure mills can be and probably will be imputed to the partners, regardless of how well they think they have insulated themselves.
 One of the things I wonder about is the practice of asserting in court that the attorney for the foreclosure represents “everybody.” The risk here is twofold: first that might include the trust beneficiaries that his client is screwing; second that might include the borrower because some of the parties included in “everybody” have a fiduciary duty to the borrower. I wonder if there are potential trap doors for the attorneys who are representing pretender lenders that include not only disciplinary complaints but perhaps joinder as defendants in a lawsuit filed for negligent undertaking.
 As always, nothing in this article should be interpreted as a definitive statement on the law. Pro se litigants should consult with an attorney licensed in the area in which the property is located before making a decision or taking any action. Attorneys should do their own research and make their own decisions as to what constitutes a breach of ethics or a breach of the disciplinary rules.

Here it is: Nonjudicial Foreclosure Violates Due Process in Complex Structured Finance Transactions

No, there isn’t a case yet. But here is my argument.

The main point is that we are forced to accept the burden of disproving a case that had not been filed — the very essence of nonjudicial foreclosure. In order to comply with due process, a simple denial of the facts and legal authority to foreclosure should be sufficient to force the case into a courtroom where the parties are realigned with the so-called new beneficiary is the Plaintiff and the homeowner is the Defendant — since it is the “beneficiary” who is seeking affirmative relief.

But the way it is done and required to be done, the Plaintiff must file an attack on a case that has never been alleged anywhere in or out of court. The new beneficiary anoints itself, files a fraudulent substitution of trustee because the old one would never go along with it, and then files a notice of default and notice of sale all on the premise that they have the necessary proof and documents to support what could have been an action in foreclosure brought by them in a judicial manner, for which there is adequate provision in California law.

Instead nonjudicial foreclosure is being used to sell property under circumstances where the alleged beneficiary under the deed of trust could never prevail in a court proceeding. Nonjudicial foreclosure was meant to be an expedient method of dealing with the vast majority of foreclosures when the statute was passed. In that vast majority, the usual procedure was complaint, default, judgment and then sale with at least one hearing in between. Nearly all foreclosures were resolved that way and it become more of a ministerial act for Judges than an actual trier of fact or judge of procedural rights and wrongs.

But the situation is changed. The corruption on Wall Street has been systemic resulting in whole sale fraudulent fabricated forged documents together with perjury by affidavit and even live testimony. Contrary to the consensus supported by the banks, these cases are complex because the party seeking affirmative relief — i.e., the new “beneficiary” is following a complex script established long before the homeowner ever applied for a loan or was solicited to finance her property.

The San Francisco study concluded, like dozens of other studies across the country that most of the foreclosures were resolved in favor of “strangers to the transaction.” By definition, the use of several layers of companies and multiple sets of documents defining two separate deals (one with the investor lenders and one with the borrower, with the only party in common being the broker dealer selling mortgage bonds and their controlled entities) has turned the mundane into highly complex litigation that has no venue. In non-judicial foreclosures the Trustee is the party who acts to sell the property under instructions from the beneficiary and does so without inquiry and without paying any attention to the obvious conflict between the title record, the securitization record, the homeowner’s position and the prior record owner of the loan.

The Trustee has no power to conduct a hearing, administrative or judicial, and so the dispute remains unresolved while the Trustee proceeds to sell the property knowing that the homeowner has raised objections. Under normal circumstances under existing common law and statutory authority, the Trustee would simply bring the matter to court in an action for interpleader saying there is a dispute that he doesn’t have the power to resolve. You might think this would clog the court system. That is not the case, although some effort by the banks would be made to do just that. Under existing common law and statutory law, the beneficiary would then need to file a complaint, verified, sworn with real exhibits and that are subject to real scrutiny before any burden of proof would shift to the homeowner. And as complex as these transactions are they all are subject to simple rules concerning financial transactions. If there was no money in the alleged transaction then the allegation of a transaction is false.

It was and remains a mistake to allow such loans to be foreclosed through any means other than strictly judicial where the “beneficiary” must allege and prove ownership and the balance due on the loan owed to THAT beneficiary. Requiring homeowners with zero sophistication in finance and litigation to bear the initial burden of proof in such highly complex structured finance schemes defies logic and common sense as well as being violative of due process in the application of the nonjudicial statutes to these allegedly securitized loans.

By forcing the parties and judges who sit on the bench to treat these complex issues as though they were simple cases, the enabling statutes for nonjudicial foreclosure are being applied unconstitutionally.

Ken McLeod Files Complaints Against Notaries: 3 Licenses Revoked so far

So far he is three for three and he has no plans to stop filing complaints against notaries who signed false, fabricated affidavits. Ken McLeod (Arizona) is about the best investigator for economic crimes that I have ever come across. I won’t publish his number because the last time I did that he was swamped with calls and couldn’t do his work. If you can get to him, hire him. He has helped my law firm in a variety of ways sometimes tracking down witnesses within minutes and even telling us where they were standing at that moment. And he is devoted to bringing down this false system of foreclosures based upon false documents, false debts, and false testimony.

“The robo-signing notaries need to be stripped of their professional licenses.  I fully intend to file a complaint against every single notary who ever signed a false affidavit in Arizona.  It may take me years, but, this is how it’s done.  One at a time until they are all gone.

“Notice the Garcia revocation.  The notary presented after the fact falsified logs to try to cover his ass.  His other problems were accepting expired passports as proof of idea.  He even acknowledged the demand by a ‘detective’ but made a (wrong) legal decision he didn’t have to comply.

“Revocation of these commissions will have to be disclosed by these notaries any time they need a bond or apply for a government job.

The subtext for this is that if the notaries were committing crimes or violations of the rules and regulations governing their licenses as notaries, then two things are true: (1)  if a false notarization was affixed by a notary in order to record a document in public records or to authenticate an affidavit as testimony, then the document or affidavit needs to be expunged from the record or coupled with a notation that the affidavit or document was falsely notarized, and  (2) if the document was falsely notarized and is therefore not effective for the purpose for which it was improperly recorded, then any action based upon that recordation is void or voidable.

The one thing that I need to remind readers is that a false notary does not completely invalidate a document. It may invalidate the recording and it may imply that the entire document was false. But it doesn’t prove the entire document was false. For example, if you in fact signed a mortgage and a note and the mortgage was required to have two witnesses and a notary, you have a contract regardless of whether or not it was recorded.  The failure to provide the proper notarization does not nullify the instrument. When the notarization was not fraudulent, and affidavit attached to the instrument will suffice to correct the problem.

Luz Anaya Notary revocation letter from AZ SOS 09232013

Letter from AZ SOS revocation of notary commission Felix Garcia

Gloria Cramer AZ SOS Revocation Letterdated 1-20-2014

What is the right return on investment for stolen capital?

Editor’s Comment: One of the interesting things about this case is where we all stood on application of law back in 1979 versus what goes on now. If you read the entire case — pointed out to me by “KC” in her comments to the blog, you see how the court approached this case in an entirely different state of mind. If the courts had maintained the state of mind they had in 1979, and applied the law the way they did in 1979, the dockets would be free from foreclosures. Why?

Taking someone’s property by forfeiture is not like horse shoes — getting close doesn’t count at all, or at least it didn’t until the courts bent themselves into pretzels looking for ways not only to justify the forfeiture but to expedite in the fools errand of supposedly clearing the docket. What they have done is swept a mountain of explosive litigation under the rug, which as Judge Holloway in New Mexico said, is going to come back and haunt us in years to come.

But you can’t just blame the courts. Until 2007, no lawyer was presenting cases and defenses based upon any knowledge of actual securitization of debt and the illusion of securitization. Such defenses were classified along side of “Television intoxication” and other creative criminal defenses that have been tried. But now there is a difference. Since the middle of 2012, lawyers have gradually made the turn to realizing that they don’t need some elaborate legal excuse for their client to win. No, they simply need the truth.

And since then the tide has been turning. Because the truth is that the banks were and always will be intermediaries who violated every oath, law, rule and sense of fair play that could ever be applied. They stole the investors money, stole the investor’s identities, stole the borrower’s identity and made two different deals with each of them without either one knowing the identity of the other or the terms of the deal. It was a neat trick, because both sides  THOUGHT they knew the terms of the deal and many still labor under that delusion.

The problem that is creeping up on the banks is that at the end of the day, everybody knows everything. They made a deal with the lenders (investors) and agreed to get them repaid through the trust. The trust joined into the deal by issuing mortgage bonds or certificates of indebtedness and ownership of loans. The deal called for all kinds of safeguards to protect the investor, but those safeguards were diverted from the investor to the intermediaries themselves. In most cases the investors HAVE been paid part or all of the amount they were due and the rest has been settled in deals totaling over $200 Billion and moving toward $300 Billion.

In the final analysis the deal with the investors was between the broker dealers (investment banks) and the investors directly — because the investment banks never followed through on the plan they had presented to the lenders (investors) through the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement. The investment banks didn’t pool the money in the trust because the trust had no account. The bonds were completely bogus issued by an entity (REMIC trust, which has now been granted “amnesty” by the IRS to get their ducks in a row) that had no money, no assets, no income and no prospects — the very same thing that happened down at the borrower’s level with the NINJA loans (no income, no job, no assets — no problem, here’s is your loan). And the investment banks didn’t make the loans they said they would fund.

So the money that SHOULD have gone into the REMIC trust was instead funneled into the accounts of closing agents along with closing instructions from an originator who was not allowed to touch the money and who wasn’t the author of the closing instructions. The terms of repayment were, well, undocumented. There is no other way to say it. The terms of repayment were also false — fraudulent in the true sense of the word (as opposed to “selling forward” and putting the bonds in “street name nominee, non-objecting” status). No, this was all a lie.

So the broker dealers then  created relationships with existing entities and brand new entities that would have official sounding names, or existing reputations that were being sold down the toilet to participate in the largest PONZI scheme in human history — a  mark that will no doubt be retained for hundreds of years. The originators never entered into any financial transaction with anyone, for the most part, and no assignee ever paid for the assignment of the debt, note, mortgage, deed of trust, contract for loan or anything else; they didn’t need to pay it because the investors’ money was in play and nobody had to observe the usual nicety of actually paying a reasonable price for a $300,000 mortgage loan. There is of course an exception to this rule — each player in the chain was paid a FEE for pretending that there was an actual transaction. So technically, money did change hands.

Of course the deal with the borrowers was entirely different than the one that the lenders approved and gave up pension money to fund this scheme. The average interest rate was higher than projected. This seemed good too except for those nasty people who deal in truth. They argued that if the interest rate was rising then so was the risk of loss. The risk that investment banks were taking with the investor’s money was literally illegal. Those managed funds that invested in these bogus mortgage bonds were regulated such that they COULD NOT invest in anything other than the highest rated income securities. Using their money to fund higher risk loans, let alone toxic waste loans was and remains illegal.

The interest rate and the risk started to go up sharply in 2004 when the investment banks ran out of credit worthy people to finance new home purchases or refinance old home purchases. BUT the income was kept constant by “servicer advances” which I am sure will turn out to be funded by the broker dealers, because the servicers would have no other reasonable business purpose to advance payments on defaulted loans. If the borrower had learned that the participants in this scheme were being paid at the rate of 3-5 times the principal amount of the loan they would have been alerted to the fact that this loan would blow up in the face of everyone (except the investment banks who were claiming losses because they were claiming ownership, but in the final analysis pitched the loss over to the investor when they were done squeezing the orange for the last drop).

So we have two deals created by the investment bank — one with the lender and one with the borrower, with a “bankruptcy remote vehicle” layered between the investor lenders and the broker dealer and another “bankruptcy remote vehicle” (much of the time) layered between the borrower and the broker dealer.

So here is the real question: what is the proper rate of return on investment when the pretender lender was a thief who used the money of other people in a manner that was completely violative of the intent of the real lenders — and also violates law? If the answer is zero, so goes the foreclosures.

The REAL DEAL should be between the investors and the borrowers who meet for the first time and make a deal they can both live with. The servicers, investment bankers et al should be removed from the communication lines. And most of all, the decision as to whether the servicer can foreclose or foreclose in the name of the investors should NOT be entirely up to a third party; the principal in the transaction should actually see the proposed settlements and modifications that are being rejected by the servicers who report that the investor turned down the offer when in fact, the investor never knew about it.

MGIC FIN. v. HA Briggs Co., 600 P.2d 573 (Wash. Ct. App. 1979)

Court of Appeals of Washington

Date Filed: August 9th, 1979

Status: Precedential

Citations: 600 P.2d 573, 24 Wash. App. 1

Docket Number: 3481-2

Judges: Reed

24 Wn. App. 1 (1979)

600 P.2d 573

Having examined the record submitted, we agree with the trial court’s conclusion that this case is ripe for summary judgment. It is undisputed that MGIC knew of the Davises’ surety interest. Yet without the Davises’ consent, MGIC garnered title to virtually all of the debtor’s real estate, released the debtor’s personal liability on the deed of trust note, and failed for more than 3 years to join the Davises as defendants in the foreclosure suit while interest steadily accrued on the debt. Whether by design or neglect, the net result of these omissions was decidedly one-sided in favor of MGIC. The trial court properly balanced the equities when it released the Davises from the danger of losing their land to satisfy the debt of a principal who already had been discharged of all liability.

*10• The summary judgment in favor of the Davises is affirmed

New Mexico Supreme Court Wipes Out Bank of New York

bony-v-romero_nm-sup.ct.-reverses-with-instruction_2-14

There are a lot of things that could be analyzed in this case that was very recently decided (February 13, 2014). The main take away is that the New Mexico Supreme Court is demonstrating that the judicial system is turning a corner in approaching the credibility of the intermediaries who are pretending to be real parties in interest. I suggest that this case be studied carefully because their reasoning is extremely good and their wording is clear. Here are some of the salient quotes that I think should be used in motions and pleadings:

We hold that the Bank of New York did not establish its lawful standing in this case to file a home mortgage foreclosure action. We also hold that a borrower’s ability to repay a home mortgage loan is one of the “borrower’s circumstances” that lenders and courts must consider in determining compliance with the New Mexico Home Loan Protection Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 58-21A-1 to -14 (2003, as amended through 2009) (the HLPA), which prohibits home mortgage refinancing that does not provide a reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower. Finally, we hold that the HLPA is not preempted by federal law. We reverse the Court of Appeals and district court and remand to the district court with instructions to vacate its foreclosure judgment and to dismiss the Bank of New York’s foreclosure action for lack of standing.

The Romeros soon became delinquent on their increased loan payments. On April 1, 2008, a third party—the Bank of New York, identifying itself as a trustee for Popular Financial Services Mortgage—filed a complaint in the First Judicial District Court seeking foreclosure on the Romeros’ home and claiming to be the holder of the Romeros’ note and mortgage with the right of enforcement.

The Romeros also raised several counterclaims, only one of which is relevant to this appeal: that the loan violated the antiflipping provisions of the New Mexico HLPA, Section 58-21A-4(B) (2003).[They were lured into refinancing into a loan with worse provisions than the one they had].

Litton Loan Servicing did not begin servicing the Romeros’ loan until November 1, 2008, seven months after the foreclosure complaint was filed in district court.

At a bench trial, Kevin Flannigan, a senior litigation processor for Litton Loan Servicing, testified on behalf of the Bank of New York. Flannigan asserted that the copies of the note and mortgage admitted as trial evidence by the Bank of New York were copies of the originals and also testified that the Bank of New York had physical possession of both the note and mortgage at the time it filed the foreclosure complaint.

{9} The Romeros objected to Flannigan’s testimony, arguing that he lacked personal knowledge to make these claims given that Litton Loan Servicing was not a servicer for the Bank of New York until after the foreclosure complaint was filed and the MERS assignment occurred. The district court allowed the testimony based on the business records exception because Flannigan was the present custodian of records.

{10} The Romeros also pointed out that the copy of the “original” note Flannigan purportedly authenticated was different from the “original” note attached to the Bank of New York’s foreclosure complaint. While the note attached to the complaint as a true copy was not indorsed, the “original” admitted at trial was indorsed twice: first, with a blank indorsement by Equity One and second, with a special indorsement made payable to JPMorgan Chase.

the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s rulings that the Bank of New York had standing to foreclose and that the HLPA had not been violated but determined as a result of the latter ruling that it was not necessary to address whether federal law preempted the HLPA. See Bank of N.Y. v. Romero, 2011-NMCA-110, ¶ 6, 150 N.M. 769, 266 P.3d 638 (“Because we conclude that substantial evidence exists for each of the district court’s findings and conclusions, and we affirm on those grounds, we do not addressthe Romeros’ preemption argument.”).

We have recognized that “the lack of [standing] is a potential jurisdictional defect which ‘may not be waived and may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even sua sponte by the appellate court.’” Gunaji v. Macias, 2001-NMSC-028, ¶ 20, 130 N.M. 734, 31 P.3d 1008 (citation omitted). While we disagree that the Romeros waived their standing claim, because their challenge has been and remains largely based on the note’s indorsement to JPMorgan Chase, whether the Romeros failed to fully develop their standing argument before the Court of Appeals is immaterial. This Court may reach the issue of standing based on prudential concerns. See New Energy Economy, Inc. v. Shoobridge, 2010-NMSC-049, ¶ 16, 149 N.M. 42, 243 P.3d 746 (“Indeed, ‘prudential rules’ of judicial self-governance, like standing, ripeness, and mootness, are ‘founded in concern about the proper—and properly limited—role of courts in a democratic society’ and are always relevant concerns.” (citation omitted)). Accordingly, we address the merits of the standing challenge.[e.s.]

the Romeros argue that none of the Bank’s evidence demonstrates standing because (1) possession alone is insufficient, (2) the “original” note introduced by the Bank of New York at trial with the two undated indorsements includes a special indorsement to JPMorgan Chase, which cannot be ignored in favor of the blank indorsement, (3) the June 25, 2008, assignment letter from MERS occurred after the Bank of New York filed its complaint, and as a mere assignment

of the mortgage does not act as a lawful transfer of the note, and (4) the statements by Ann Kelley and Kevin Flannigan are inadmissible because both lack personal knowledge given that Litton Loan Servicing did not begin servicing loans for the Bank of New York until seven months after the foreclosure complaint was filed and after the purported transfer of the loan occurred. 
[NOTE BURDEN OF PROOF]

(“[S]tanding is to be determined as of the commencement of suit.”); accord 55 Am. Jur. 2d Mortgages § 584 (2009) (“A plaintiff has no foundation in law or fact to foreclose upon a mortgage in which the plaintiff has no legal or equitable interest.”). One reason for such a requirement is simple: “One who is not a party to a contract cannot maintain a suit upon it. If [the entity] was a successor in interest to a party on the [contract], it was incumbent upon it to prove this to the court.” L.R. Prop. Mgmt., Inc. v. Grebe, 1981-NMSC-035, ¶ 7, 96 N.M. 22, 627 P.2d 864 (citation omitted). The Bank of New York had the burden of establishing timely ownership of the note and the mortgage to support its entitlement to pursue a foreclosure action. See Gonzales v. Tama, 1988-NMSC- 016, ¶ 7, 106 N.M. 737, 749 P.2d 1116

[THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REMEDIES ON THE NOTE AND REMEDIES ON THE MORTGAGE]

(“One who holds a note secured by a mortgage has two separate and independent remedies, which he may pursue successively or concurrently; one is on the note against the person and property of the debtor, and the other is by foreclosure to enforce the mortgage lien upon his real estate.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

3. None of the Bank’s Evidence Demonstrates Standing to Foreclose

{19} The Bank of New York argues that in order to demonstrate standing, it was required to prove that before it filed suit, it either (1) had physical possession of the Romeros’ note indorsed to it or indorsed in blank or (2) received the note with the right to enforcement, as required by the UCC. See § 55-3-301 (defining “[p]erson entitled to enforce” a negotiable instrument). While we agree with the Bank that our state’s UCC governs how a party becomes legally entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument such as the note for a home loan, we disagree that the Bank put forth such evidence.

a. Possession of a Note Specially Indorsed to JPMorgan Chase Does Not Establish the Bank of New York as a Holder

{20} Section 55-3-301 of the UCC provides three ways in which a third party can enforce a negotiable instrument such as a note. Id. (“‘Person entitled to enforce’ an instrument means (i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the [lost, destroyed, stolen, or mistakenly transferred] instrument pursuant to [certain UCC enforcement provisions].”); see also § 55-3-104(a)(1), (b), (e) (defining “negotiable instrument” as including a “note” made “payable to bearer or to order”). Because the Bank’s arguments rest on the fact that it was in physical possession of the Romeros’ note, we need to consider only the first two categories of eligibility to enforce under Section 55-3-301.

{21} The UCC defines the first type of “person entitled to enforce” a note—the “holder” of the instrument—as “the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer or to an identified person that is the person in possession.” NMSA 1978, § 55-1-201(b)(21)(A) (2005); see also Frederick M. Hart & William F. Willier, Negotiable Instruments Under the Uniform Commercial Code, § 12.02(1) at 12-13 to 12-15 (2012) (“The first requirement of being a holder is possession of the instrument. However, possession is not necessarily sufficient to make one a holder. . . . The payee is always a holder if the payee has possession. Whether other persons qualify as a holder depends upon whether the instrument initially is payable to order or payable to bearer, and whether the instrument has been indorsed.” (footnotes omitted)). Accordingly, a third party must prove both physical possession and the right to enforcement through either a proper indorsement or a transfer by negotiation. See NMSA 1978, § 55-3-201(a) (1992) (“‘Negotiation’ means a transfer of possession . . . of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder.”). [E.S.] Because in this case the Romeros’ note was clearly made payable to the order of Equity One, we must determine whether the Bank provided sufficient evidence of how it became a “holder” by either an indorsement or transfer.

Without explanation, the note introduced at trial differed significantly from the original note attached to the foreclosure complaint, despite testimony at trial that the Bank of New York had physical possession of the Romeros’ note from the time the foreclosure complaint was filed on April 1, 2008. Neither the unindorsed note nor the twice-indorsed

7

note establishes the Bank as a holder.

{23} Possession of an unindorsed note made payable to a third party does not establish the right of enforcement, just as finding a lost check made payable to a particular party does not allow the finder to cash it. [E.S.]See NMSA 1978, § 55-3-109 cmt. 1 (1992) (“An instrument that is payable to an identified person cannot be negotiated without the indorsement of the identified person.”). The Bank’s possession of the Romeros’ unindorsed note made payable to Equity One does not establish the Bank’s entitlement to enforcement.

We are not persuaded. The Bank provides no authority and we know of none that exists to support its argument that the payment restrictions created by a special indorsement can be ignored contrary to our long-held rules on indorsements and the rights they create. See, e.g., id. (rejecting each of two entities as a holder because a note lacked the requisite indorsement following a special indorsement); accord NMSA 1978, § 55-3-204(c) (1992) (“For the purpose of determining whether the transferee of an instrument is a holder, an indorsement that transfers a security interest in the instrument is effective as an unqualified indorsement of the instrument.”).

[COMPETENCY OF WITNESS]

the Bank of New York relies on the testimony of Kevin Flannigan, an employee of Litton Loan Servicing who maintained that his review of loan servicing records indicated that the Bank of New York was the transferee of the note. The Romeros objected to Flannigan’s testimony at trial, an objection that the district court overruled under the business records exception. We agree with the Romeros that Flannigan’s testimony was inadmissible and does not establish a proper transfer.

Litton Loan Servicing, did not begin working for the Bank of New York as its servicing agent until November 1, 2008—seven months after the April 1, 2008, foreclosure complaint was filed. Prior to this date, Popular Mortgage Servicing, Inc. serviced the Bank of New York’s loans. Flannigan had no personal knowledge to support his testimony that transfer of the Romeros’ note to the Bank of New York prior to the filing of the foreclosure complaint was proper because Flannigan did not yet work for the Bank of New York. See Rule 11-602 NMRA (“A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the

9

witness has personal knowledge of the matter. [E.S.] Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness’s own testimony.”). We make a similar conclusion about the affidavit of Ann Kelley, who also testified about the status of the Romeros’ loan based on her work for Litton Loan Servicing. As with Flannigan’s testimony, such statements by Kelley were inadmissible because they lacked personal knowledge.

[OBJECTION TO HEARSAY BUSINESS RECORDS REVERSED AND SUSTAINED]

When pressed about Flannigan’s basis of knowledge on cross-examination, Flannigan merely stated that “our records do indicate” the Bank of New York as the holder of the note based on “a pooling and servicing agreement.” No such business record itself was offered or admitted as a business records hearsay exception. See Rule 11-803(F) NMRA (2007) (naming this category of hearsay exceptions as “records of regularly conducted activity”).

The district court erred in admitting the testimony of Flannigan as a custodian of records under the exception to the inadmissibility of hearsay for “business records” that are made in the regular course of business and are generally admissible at trial under certain conditions. See Rule 11-803(F) (2007) (citing the version of the rule in effect at the time of trial). The business records exception allows the records themselves to be admissible but not simply statements about the purported contents of the records. [E.S.] See State v. Cofer, 2011-NMCA-085, ¶ 17, 150 N.M. 483, 261 P.3d 1115 (holding that, based on the plain language of Rule 11-803(F) (2007), “it is clear that the business records exception requires some form of document that satisfies the rule’s foundational elements to be offered and admitted into evidence and that testimony alone does not qualify under this exception to the hearsay rule” and concluding that “‘testimony regarding the contents of business records, unsupported by the records themselves, by one without personal knowledge of the facts constitutes inadmissible hearsay.’” (citation omitted)). Neither Flannigan’s testimony nor Kelley’s affidavit can substantiate the existence of documents evidencing a transfer if those documents are not entered into evidence. Accordingly, Flannigan’s trial testimony cannot establish that the Romeros’ note was transferred to the Bank of New York.[E.S.]

[REJECTION OF MERS ASSIGNMENT]

We also reject the Bank’s argument that it can enforce the Romeros’ note because it was assigned the mortgage by MERS. An assignment of a mortgage vests only those rights to the mortgage that were vested in the assigning entity and nothing more. See § 55-3-203(b) (“Transfer of an instrument, whether or not the transfer is a negotiation, vests in the transferee any right of the transferor to enforce the instrument, including any right as a holder in due course.”); accord Hart & Willier, supra, § 12.03(2) at 12-27 (“Th[is] shelter rule puts the transferee in the shoes of the transferor.”).

[MERS CAN NEVER ASSIGN THE NOTE]

As a nominee for Equity One on the mortgage contract, MERS could assign the mortgage but lacked any authority to assign the Romeros’ note. Although this Court has never explicitly ruled on the issue of whether the assignment of a mortgage could carry with it the transfer of a note, we have long recognized the separate functions that note and mortgage contracts perform in foreclosure actions. See First Nat’l Bank of Belen v. Luce, 1974-NMSC-098, ¶ 8, 87 N.M. 94, 529 P.2d 760 (holding that because the assignment of a mortgage to a bank did not convey an interest in the loan contract, the bank was not entitled to foreclose on the mortgage); Simson v. Bilderbeck, Inc., 1966-NMSC-170, ¶¶ 13-14, 76 N.M. 667, 417 P.2d 803 (explaining that “[t]he right of the assignee to enforce the mortgage is dependent upon his right to enforce the note” and noting that “[b]oth the note and mortgage were assigned to plaintiff.

[SPLITTING THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE]

(“A mortgage securing the repayment of a promissory note follows the note, and thus, only the rightful owner of the note has the right to enforce the mortgage.”); Dunaway, supra, § 24:18 (“The mortgage only secures the payment of the debt, has no life independent of the debt, and cannot be separately transferred. If the intent of the lender is to transfer only the security interest (the mortgage), this cannot legally be done and the transfer of the mortgage without the debt would be a nullity.”). These separate contractual functions—where the note is the loan and the mortgage is a pledged security for that loan—cannot be ignored simply by the advent of modern technology and the MERS electronic mortgage registry system.

[THE NOBODY ELSE IS CLAIMING ARGUMENT IS EXPLICITLY REJECTED]

Failure of Another Entity to Claim Ownership of the Romeros’ Note Does Not Make the Bank of New York a Holder

{37} Finally, the Bank of New York urges this Court to adopt the district court’s inference that if the Bank was not the proper holder of the Romeros’ note, then third-party-defendant Equity One would have claimed to be the rightful holder, and Equity One made no such claim.

11

{38} The simple fact that Equity One does not claim ownership of the Romeros’ note does not establish that the note was properly transferred to the Bank of New York. In fact, the evidence in the record indicates that JPMorgan Chase may be the lawful holder of the Romeros’ note, as reflected in the note’s special indorsement.

[HOLDER MUST PROVE ENTITLEMENT TO ENFORCE -- NO PRESUMPTION ALLOWED]

Because the transferee is not a holder, there is no presumption under Section [55-]3-308 [(1992) (entitling a holder in due course to payment by production and upon signature)] that the transferee, by producing the instrument, is entitled to payment. The instrument, by its terms, is not payable to the transferee and the transferee must account for possession of the unindorsed instrument by proving the transaction through which the transferee acquired it.

[LENDER'S OBLIGATION TO ASSURE THAT THE LOAN IS VIABLE]

B. A Lender Must Consider a Borrower’s Ability to Repay a Home Mortgage Loan in Determining Whether the Loan Provides a Reasonable, Tangible Net Benefit, as Required by the New Mexico HLPA

{39} For reasons that are not clear in the record, the Romeros did not appeal the district court’s judgment in favor of the original lender, Equity One, on the Romeros’ claims that Equity One violated the HLPA. The Court of Appeals addressed the HLPA violation issue in the context of the Romeros’ contentions that the alleged violation constituted a defense to the foreclosure complaint of the Bank of New York by affirming the district court’s favorable ruling on the Bank of New York’s complaint. As a result of our holding that the Bank of New York has not established standing to bring a foreclosure action, the issue of HLPA violation is now moot in this case. But because it is an issue that is likely to be addressed again in future attempts by whichever institution may be able to establish standing to foreclose on the Romero home and because it involves a statutory interpretation issue of substantial public importance in many other cases, we address the conclusion of both the

12

Court of Appeals and the district court that a homeowner’s inability to repay is not among “all of the circumstances” that the 2003 HLPA, applicable to the Romeros’ loan, requires a lender to consider under its “flipping” provisions:

No creditor shall knowingly and intentionally engage in the unfair act or practice of flipping a home loan. As used in this subsection, “flipping a home loan” means the making of a home loan to a borrower that refinances an existing home loan when the new loan does not have reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower considering all of the circumstances, including the terms of both the new and refinanced loans, the cost of the new loan and the borrower’s circumstances.

Section 58-21A-4(B) (2003); see also Bank of N.Y., 2011-NMCA-110, ¶ 17 (holding that “while the ability to repay a loan is an important consideration when otherwise assessing a borrower’s financial situation, we will not read such meaning into the statute’s ‘reasonable, tangible net benefit’ language”).

[DOOMED LOANS --- WHO HAS THE RISK?]

We have been presented with no conceivable reason why the Legislature in 2003 would consciously exclude consideration of a borrower’s ability to repay the loan as a factor of the borrower’s circumstances, and we can think of none. Without an express legislative direction to that effect, we will not conclude that the Legislature meant to approve mortgage loans that were doomed to end in failure and foreclosure. Apart from the plain language of the statute and its express statutory purpose, it is difficult to comprehend how an unrepayable home mortgage loan that will result in a foreclosure on one’s home and a deficiency judgment to pay after the borrower is rendered homeless could provide “a reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower.”

[LENDER'S OBLIGATION TO MAKE SURE IT IS A VIABLE TRANSACTION] a lender cannot avoid its own obligation to consider real facts and circumstances [E.S.] that might clarify the inaccuracy of a borrower’s income claim. Id. (“Lenders cannot, however, disregard known facts and circumstances that may place in question the accuracy of information contained in the application.”) A lender’s willful blindness to its responsibility to consider the true circumstances of its borrowers is unacceptable. A full and fair consideration of those circumstances might well show that a new mortgage loan would put a borrower into a materially worse situation with respect to the ability to make home loan payments and avoid foreclosure, consequences of a borrower’s circumstances that cannot be disregarded.

if the inclusion of such boilerplate language in the mass of documents a borrower must sign at closing would substitute for a lender’s conscientious compliance with the obligations imposed by the HLPA, its protections would be no more than empty words on paper that could be summarily swept aside by the addition of yet one more document for the borrower to sign at the closing.

[THE BLAME GAME]

Borrowers are certainly not blameless if they try to refinance their homes through loans they cannot afford. But they do not have a mortgage lender’s expertise, and the combination of the relative unsophistication of many borrowers and the potential motives of unscrupulous lenders seeking profits from making loans without regard for the consequences to homeowners led to the need for statutory reform. See § 58-21A-2 (discussing (A) “abusive mortgage lending” practices, including (B) “making . . . loans that are equity-based, rather than income based,” (C) “repeatedly refinanc[ing] home loans,” rewarding lenders with “immediate income” from “points and fees” and (D) victimizing homeowners with the unnecessary “costs and terms” of “overreaching creditors”).

[FEDERAL PREEMPTION CLAIM FROM OCC STATEMENT DOES NOT PROVIDE BANK OF NEW YORK ANY PROTECTION]

While the Bank is correct in asserting that the OCC issued a blanket rule in January 2004, see 12 C.F.R. § 34.4(a) (2004) (preempting state laws that impact “a national bank’s ability to fully exercise its Federally authorized real estate lending powers”), and that the New Mexico Administrative Code recognizes this OCC rule, neither the Bank nor our administrative code addresses several actions taken by Congress and the courts since 2004 to disavow the OCC’s broad preemption statement.

Applying the Dodd-Frank standard to the HLPA, we conclude that federal law does not preempt the HLPA. First, our review of the NBA reveals no express preemption of state consumer protection laws such as the HLPA. Second, the Bank provides no evidence that conforming to the dictates of the HLPA prevents or significantly interferes with a national bank’s operations. Third, the HLPA does not create a discriminatory effect; rather, the HLPA applies to any “creditor,” which the 2003 statute defines as “a person who regularly [offers or] makes a home loan.” Section 58-21A-3(G) (2003). Any entity that makes home loans in New Mexico must follow the HLPA, regardless of whether the lender is a state or nationally chartered bank. See § 58-21A-2 (providing legislative findings on abusive mortgage lending practices that the HLPA is meant to discourage).

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