The Big Cover-Up in Our Credit Nation

Regulators have confirmed that there were widespread errors by banks but that the errors didn’t really matter. They are trying to tell us that the errors had to do with modifications and other matters that really didn’t have any bearing on whether the loans were owned by parties seeking foreclosure or on whether the balance alleged to be due could be confirmed in any way, after deducting third party payments received by the foreclosing party. Every lawyer who spends their time doing foreclosure litigation knows that report is dead wrong.

So the government is actively assisting the banks is covering up the largest scam in human history. The banks own most of the people in government so it should come as no surprise. This finding will be used again and again to say that the complaints from borrowers are just disgruntled homeowners seeking to find their way out of self inflicted wound.

And now they seek to tell us in the courts that nothing there matters either. It doesn’t matter whether the foreclosing party actually owns the loan, received delivery of the note, or a valid assignment of the mortgage for value. The law says it matters but the bank lawyers, some appellate courts and lots of state court judges say that doesn’t apply — you got the money and stopped paying. That is all they need to know. So let’s look at that.

If I found out you were behind in your credit card payments and sued you, under the present theory you would have no defense to my lawsuit. It would be enough that you borrowed the money and stopped paying. The fact that I never loaned you the money nor bought the loan would be of no consequence. What about the credit card company?

Well first they would have to find out about the lawsuit to do anything. Second they could still bring their own lawsuit because mine was completely unfounded. And they could collect again. In the world of fake REMIC trusts, the trust beneficiaries have no right to the information on your loan nor the ability to inquire, audit or otherwise figure out what happened tot heir investment.

It is the perfect steal. The investors (like the credit card company) are getting paid by the borrowers and third party payments from insurance etc. or they have settled with the broker dealers on the fraudulent bonds. So when some stranger comes in and sues on the debt, or sues in foreclosure or issues of notice of default and notice of sale, the defense that the borrower has no debt relationship with the foreclosing party is swept aside.

The fact that neither the actual lender nor the actual victim of this scheme will ever be compensated for their loss doesn’t matter as long as the homeowner loses their home.  This is upside down law and politics. We have seen the banks intervene in student loans and drive that up to over $1 trillion in a country where the average household is $15,000 in debt — a total of $13 trillion dollars. The banks are inserting themselves in all sorts of transactions producing bizarre results.

The net result is undermining the U.S. economy and undermining the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world. Lots of people talk about the fact that we have already lost 20% of our position as the reserve currency and that we are clearly headed for a decline to 50% and then poof, we will be just another country with a struggling currency. Printing money won’t be an option. Options are being explored to replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. No longer are companies requiring payments in U.S. dollars as the trend continues.

The banks themselves are preparing for a sudden devaluation of currency by getting into commodities rather than holding their money in US Currency. The same is true for most international corporations. We are on the verge of another collapse. And contrary to what the paid pundits of the banks are saying the answer is simple — just like Iceland did it — apply the law and reduce the household debt. The result is a healthy economy again and a strong dollar. But too many people are too heavily invested or tied to the banks to allow that option except on a case by case basis. So that is what we need to do — beat them on a case by case basis.

National Honesty Day? America’s Book of Lies

Today is National Honesty Day. While it should be a celebration of how honest we have been the other 364 days of the year, it is rather a day of reflection on how dishonest we have been. Perhaps today could be a day in which we say we will at least be honest today about everything we say or do. But that isn’t likely. Today I focus on the economy and the housing crisis. Yes despite the corruption of financial journalism in which we are told of improvements, our economy — led by the housing markets — is still sputtering. It will continue to do so until we confront the truth about housing, and in particular foreclosures. Tennessee, Virginia and other states continue to lead the way in a downward spiral leading to the lowest rate of home ownership since the 1990’s with no bottom in sight.

Here are a few of the many articles pointing out the reality of our situation contrasted with the absence of articles in financial journalism directed at outright corruption on Wall Street where the players continue to pursue illicit, fraudulent and harmful schemes against our society performing acts that can and do get jail time for anyone else who plays that game.

It isn’t just that they escaping jail time. The jailing of bankers would take a couple of thousand people off the street that would otherwise be doing harm to us.

The main point is that we know they are doing the wrong thing in foreclosing on property they don’t own using “balances” the borrower doesn’t owe; we know they effectively stole the money from the investors who thought they were buying mortgage bonds, we know they effectively stole the title protection and documents that should have been executed in favor of the real source of funds, we know they received multiple payments from third parties and we know they are getting twin benefits from foreclosures that (a) should not be legally allowed and (b) only compound the damages to investors and homeowners.

The bottom line: Until we address wrongful foreclosures, the housing market, which has always led the economy, will continue to sputter, flatline or crash again. Transferring wealth from the middle class to the banks is a recipe for disaster whether it is legal or illegal. In this case it plainly illegal in most cases.

And despite the planted articles paid for by the banks, we still have over 700,000 foreclosures to go in the next year and over 9,000,000 homeowners who are so deep underwater that their situation is a clear and present danger of “strategic default” on claims that are both untrue and unfair.

Here is a sampling of corroborative evidence for my conclusions:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Candid Take on the Foreclosure Crisis

There it was: The Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.”

Lynn Symoniak is Thwarted by Government as She Pursues Other Banks for the Same Thing She Proved Before

Government prosecutors who relied on a Florida whistleblower’s evidence to win foreclosure fraud settlements with major banks two years ago are declining to help her pursue identical claims against a second set of large financial institutions.

Lynn Szymoniak first found proof that millions of American foreclosures were based on faulty and falsified documents while fighting her own foreclosure. Her three-year legal fight helped uncover the fact that banks were “robosigning” documents — hiring people to forge signatures and backdate legal paperwork the firms needed in order to foreclose on people’s homes — as a routine practice. Court papers that were unsealed last summer show that the fraudulent practices Szymoniak discovered affect trillions of dollars worth of mortgages.

More than 700,000 Foreclosures Expected Over Next Year

How Bank Watchdogs Killed Our Last Chance At Justice For Foreclosure Victims

The results are in. The award for the sorriest chapter of the great American foreclosure crisis goes to the Independent Foreclosure Review, a billion-dollar sinkhole that produced nothing but heartache for aggrieved homeowners, and a big black eye for regulators.

The foreclosure review was supposed to uncover abuses in how the mortgage industry coped with the epic wave of foreclosures that swept the U.S. in the aftermath of the housing crash. In a deal with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, more than a dozen companies, including major banks, agreed to hire independent auditors to comb through loan files, identify errors and award just compensation to people who’d been abused in the foreclosure process.

But in January 2013, amid mounting evidence that the entire process was compromised by bank interference and government mismanagement, regulators abruptly shut the program down. They replaced it with a nearly $10 billion legal settlement that satisfied almost no one. Borrowers received paltry payouts, with sums determined by the very banks they accused of making their lives hell.

Investigation Stalled and Diverted as to Bank Fraud Against Investors and Homeowners

The Government Accountability Office released the results of its study of the Independent Foreclosure Review, conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve in 2011 and 2012, and the results show that the foreclosure process is lacking in oversight and transparency.

According to the GAO review, which can be read in full here, the OCC and Fed signed consent orders with 16 mortgage servicers in 2011 and 2012 that required the servicers to hire consultants to review foreclosure files for efforts and remediate harm to borrowers.

In 2013, regulators amended the consent orders for all but one servicer, ending the file reviews and requiring servicers to provide $3.9 billion in cash payments to about 4.4 million borrowers and $6 billion in foreclosure prevention actions, such as loan modifications. The list of impacted mortgage servicers can be found here, as well as any updates. It should be noted that the entire process faced controversy before, as critics called the IFR cumbersome and costly.

Banks Profit from Suicides of Their Officers and Employees

After a recent rash of mysterious apparent suicides shook the financial world, researchers are scrambling to find answers about what really is the reason behind these multiple deaths. Some observers have now come to a rather shocking conclusion.

Wall Street on Parade bloggers Pam and Russ Martens wrote this week that something seems awry regarding the bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) policies held by JPMorgan Chase.

Four of the biggest banks on Wall Street combined hold over $680 billion in BOLI policies, the bloggers reported, but JPMorgan held around $17.9 billion in BOLI assets at the end of last year to Citigroup’s comparably meager $8.8 billion.

Government Cover-Up to Protect the Banks and Screw Homeowners and Investors

A new government report suggests that errors made by banks and their agents during foreclosures might have been significantly higher than was previously believed when regulators halted a national review of the banks’ mortgage servicing operations.

When banking regulators decided to end the independent foreclosure review last year, most banks had not completed the examinations of their mortgage modification and foreclosure practices.

At the time, the regulators — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve — found that lengthy reviews by bank-hired consultants were delaying compensation getting to borrowers who had suffered through improper modifications and other problems.

But the decision to cut short the review left regulators with limited information about actual harm to borrowers when they negotiated a $10 billion settlement as part of agreements with 15 banks, according to a draft of a report by the Government Accountability Office reviewed by The New York Times.

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

Wrongful Foreclosure Rate at least 24%: Wrongful or Fraudulent?

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

http://www.marketpulse.com/20140430/u-s-housing-recovery-struggles/

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0429/Home-buying-loses-allure-ownership-rate-lowest-since-1995

http://www.opednews.com/articles/It-s-Good–no–Great-to-by-William-K-Black–Bank-Failure_Bank-Failures_Bankers_Banking-140430-322.html

[DISHONEST EUPHEMISMS: The context of this WSJ story is the broader series of betrayals of homeowners by the regulators and prosecutors led initially by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his infamous “foam the runways” comment in which he admitted and urged that programs “sold” as benefitting distressed homeowners be used instead to aid the banks (more precisely, the bank CEOs) whose frauds caused the crisis.  The WSJ article deals with one of the several settlements with the banks that “service” home mortgages and foreclose on them.  Private attorneys first obtained the evidence that the servicers were engaged in massive foreclosure fraud involving knowingly filing hundreds of thousands of false affidavits under (non) penalty of perjury.  As a senior former AUSA said publicly at the INET conference a few weeks ago about these cases — they were slam dunk prosecutions.  But you know what happened; no senior banker or bank was prosecuted.  No banker was sued civilly by the government.  No banker had to pay back his bonus that he “earned” through fraud.

 

 

Don’t Admit the Default

Kudos again to Jim Macklin for sitting in for me last night. Excellent job — but don’t get too comfortable in my chair :). Lots of stuff in another mini-seminar packed into 28 minutes of talk.

A big point made by the attorney guest Charles Marshall, with which I obviously agree, is don’t admit the default in a foreclosure unless that is really what you mean to do. I have been saying for 8 years that lawyers and pro se litigants and Petitioners in bankruptcy proceedings have been cutting their own throats by stating outright or implying that the default exists. It probably doesn’t exist, even though it SEEMS like it MUST exist since the borrower stopped paying.

There is not a default just because a borrower stops paying. The default occurs when the CREDITOR DOESN’T GET PAID. Until the false game of “securitization started” there was no difference between the two — i.e., when the borrower stopped paying the creditor didn’t get paid. But that is not the case in 96% of all residential loan transactions between 2001 and the present. Today there are multiple ways for the creditor to get paid besides the servicer receiving the borrower’s payment. the Courts are applying yesterday’s law without realizing that today’s facts are different.

Whether the creditor got paid and is still being paid is a question of fact that must be determined in a hearing where evidence is presented. All indications from the Pooling and Servicing Agreements, Distribution Reports, existing lawsuits from investors, insurers, counterparties in other hedge contracts like credit default swaps — they all indicate that there were multiple channels for payment that had little if anything to do with an individual borrower making payments to the servicer. Most Trust beneficiaries get paid regardless of whether the borrower makes payment, under provisions of the PSA for servicer advances, Trustee advances or some combination of those two plus the other co-obligors mentioned above.

Why would you admit a default on the part of the creditor’s account when you don’t have access to the money trail to identify the creditor? Why would you implicitly admit that the creditor has even been identified? Why would you admit a payment was due under a note and mortgage (or deed of trust) that were void front the start?

The banks have done a good job of getting courts to infer that the payment was due, to infer that the creditor is identified, to infer that the payment to the creditor wasn’t received by the creditor, and to infer that the balance shown by the servicer and the history of the creditor’s account can be shown by reference only to the servicer’s account. But that isn’t true. So why would you admit to something that isn’t true and why would you admit to something you know nothing about.

You don’t know because only the closing agent, originator and all the other “securitization” parties have any idea about the trail of money — the real transactions — and how the money was handled. And they are all suing the broker dealers and each other stating that fraud was committed and mismanagement of the multiple channels of payments received for, or on behalf of the trust or trust beneficiaries.

In the end it is exactly that point that will reach critical mass in the courts, when judges realize that the creditor has no default in its business records because it got paid — and the foreclosure by intermediaries in the false securitization scheme is a sham.

In California the issue they discussed last night about choice of remedies is also what I have been discussing for the last 8 years, but I must admit they said it better than I ever did. Either go for the money or go for the property — you can’t do both. And if you  elected a remedy or assumed a risk, you can’t back out of it later — which is why the point was made last night that the borrower was a third party beneficiary of the transaction with investors which is why it is a single transaction — if there is no borrower, there wold be no investment. If there was no investment, there would have been no borrower. The transaction could not exist without both the investor and the borrower.

Bravo to Jim Macklin, Dan Edstrom and Charles Marshall, Esq. And remember don’t act on these insights without consulting with a licensed attorney who knows about this area of the law.

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.

Back to HOLDER and HOLDER IN DUE COURSE

When I first got into this mortgage mess I called counsel for Aurora on a foreclosure case pending in California. I asked him how the currently self-designated entity pursuing foreclosure could justify its actions. His answer was “we are the holder.” So I asked him again why a company that has no financial stake in the outcome and who clearly does not meet the definition of a creditor of this borrower could initiate a foreclosure proceeding. And he answered again “we are the holder.” So I asked him does this mean the entity that he is alleging is the holder is acting for or against the interest of the actual creditor? And he answered again “we are the holder.” So I asked him, whether he was asserting that the entity pursuing foreclosure was a holder in due course. And he answered again “we are the holder.” By the way, this was not some foreclosure mill newbie. This was the main guy in Chicago who had been the architect of the legal plan for foreclosures.

In the months after that I received a quick lesson. Everything I knew about bills and notes (commercial paper, negotiable instruments etc.) was going to be put to the test. And it became apparent that notwithstanding clear law to the contrary, the holder was going to be treated as a holder in due course regardless of the actual facts. The justification for this practice rested squarely on two assumptions that were considered to be axiomatically true:

(1) It was assumed that the borrower and received the loan and failed to pay it “back”
(2) It was inevitable that despite any technical defenses a borrower could raise, that the outcome would be foreclosure — which led to a disastrous public policy of rubber stamping millions of foreclosures without any requirement that the forecloser and its paperwork be subject to any scrutiny at all.

The millions of foreclosures had placed an impossible burden on the court system. Based upon the  above assumptions, the remedy was clear — get the cases pushed through to to the foreclosure auction as quickly as possible and thus clear the docket. The idea of retaining existing practices where a Judge would scrutinize the documents and allegations with or without the homeowner present, was set aside despite the fact that every state has declared that forfeiture is an extreme remedy.

Instead in non-judicial states, a trustee was installed and merely had to receive instructions from the beneficiary of a deed of trust. Anyone could and would do that. Some entity not on the loan and having no relationship with the originator of the loan would state that it was the beneficiary and was now executing a substitution of trustee under the powers vested in the beneficiary, and the new “trustee” was a controlled or contract entity that was created for the express purpose of foreclosing on the property — minding only the instructions of the new beneficiary — without any verification that the claimed beneficiary had any interest in the loan, the debt, the note or the deed of trust.

In judicial states Judges routinely ignored meritorious defenses treating these fictitious entities as though they were holders in due course and thus excluding nearly every potential defense. The same logic applied — since it was inevitable that the foreclosure would happen anyway, why hold it up? The idea that this was part of a vast scheme of financial fraud and that the perpetrators were being being rewarded with houses when they had already stolen the money that paid for the loans was mere poppycock, conspiracy theory. Even when the lawsuits and charges from investors, administrative agencies, law enforcement, insurers, guarantors and co-obligors stated that the basis of these transactions was rooted in financial fraud, Judges continued to rule based upon the public policy of clearing the docket of inevitable foreclosure sales.

But now, it appears as though some cases of mine are being transferred out of the foreclosure docket and into general litigation or even complex litigation where the old rules apply. Judges in the foreclosure docket are commenting about the shell game played where the servicers are suddenly changed right before trial, and where the elements of their cause of action don’t appear to be present. Judgments are being entered in favor of the borrower that are reciting that the Plaintiff failed to meet its burden of proof — still coming up short on the statement that this was part of a fraudulent scheme and that the perpetrators of such a scheme should not be allowed to profit from it.

So now that we are heading back into the territory where the rules of law, the rules of evidence and the rules of procedure apply again, it is important that you understand the essential nature of bills and notes (negotiable instruments). And we start with the proposition that there has been a legislative and judicial determination that negotiable cash equivalent instruments should be allowed to exist. This means that if you receive a negotiable instrument as a holder in due course, it is yours to use anyway you want the same as cash or to collect from the original maker, regardless of anything that happened between the original maker of the note and whoever he or she or they were dealing with at the time the negotiable instrument was created.

The first point is that a negotiable instrument can ONLY be a promise to pay that is NOT conditioned on anything. The maker is agreeing to pay regardless of any other dealings he has had with any other party at any time. A promissory note can be an unconditional promise to pay. A mortgage is not an unconditional promise to pay (there are not two notes for the same transaction). The mortgage is a collateral agreement for protection of the creditor in the event that the collection on the note does not satisfy the full debt. The mortgage is not a negotiable instrument. But in some jurisdictions it is treated as an attachment to the note such that the endorsement (“indorsement”) of the note also transfers ownership of the rights under the collateral mortgage or deed of trust. Those are called “mortgage follows the note jurisdictions.” In other jurisdictions the assignment of the mortgage gives rise to an implied assignment of the note. Those are called “note follows the mortgage” jurisdictions. Note that a mortgage cannot be endorsed — it is a legal agreement that requires assignment. And there are jurisdictions that do both.

The aim here under public policy that is centuries old, is to promote the free flow of commerce and leave disputes to the people involved in the dispute and not present a danger to an innocent third party who takes an apparently negotiable instrument as an unconditional promise to pay only to be confronted with the maker’s defenses of fraud in the original or subsequent transactions. This is an over-riding public doctrine. It is the reason why I have warned from the beginning that failure to dot an “i” or cross a “t” is going to get you nowhere in terms of winning your case. But if you can prove that the current “holder” is part of the fraud you can knock them down from their pedestal of being a holder in due course and thus just a holder or even less a possessor (bailment) holding no rights to enforce under any conditions. This is why the actual transaction documents and methods of payment at each stage of the “assignments”or “endorsements” of the instruments must be carefully examined starting with the origination. By actual transactions I mean — “SHOW ME THE MONEY.” The UCC says “for value” and so if someone claims to have received ownership of the note then in order for them to aspire to holder in due course status they must show they paid for it.

When you see a loan closing followed some hours later by an assignment followed a few minutes later by another assignment, you can assume that something was not disclosed to the borrower and that the actual lender was probably not stated on the loan papers, which means the basics of contract law apply — the borrower’s act of executing the loan papers, including the note (that would have otherwise been a negotiable instrument) was not counterbalanced by the named payee making the loan. Thus the contract is unexecuted and unenforceable unless the Payee and mortgagee can establish disclosure and an actual relationship with the true source of the loan, such that the Payee was the borrower in a transaction in which a third party actually made the loan.

But just because you have it and just because you claim to be a holder in due course doesn’t make it true. You might not have it, you might have forged or fabricated the original, and you might have actually known about problems and defenses of the maker when you took it, or the maker might not have known the true nature of the transaction and you did. In all those cases you are not a holder in due course and every action or defense that could be brought in a breach of contract action would apply to you as a holder (if you really have it) or mere possessor. AND THE KEY ELEMENT BEFORE ALL OTHER INQUIRIES IS WHETHER YOU RECEIVED THE NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENT FOR VALUE, WHICH MEANS YOU PAID MONEY FOR THE SALE OF THAT INSTRUMENT. The banks that assert that their own self-serving allegation of holder or holder in due course ends the inquiry in terms of discovery are just plain wrong.

This is long enough. I will expand on these issues in upcoming articles. In the meanwhile read carefully the following cases, especially the KIND case, which shows how extraordinary the powers of a holder in due course can be.

See UCC 3-305

U.S. v Second National Bank of North Miami, 1974, 502 F. 2d 535, cert denied, 95 S Ct. 1567, 4221 U.S. 912, 43 L. ed. 777

Davis vs. West, App 2 d DCA 114 So. 2d, 703 (1959)

Daiwa Products, Inc. v Nationsbank, N.A. 885 So. 2d 884 (Fla 4th DCA 2004)

Kind v Gittman 889 So.2d 87 4th DCA (2004)

EDITOR’S NOTE: read the Kind case. see if you don’t agree that this case opens the door to appraisal fraud both as a counterclaim and set off. But the basis is that you must plead and prove that the property was worth something different at the time of the transaction that what the appraisal said. The action is against both the appraiser and the lender, because the appraisal is a representation of the lender. The resulting damages in interest and principal payments could produce the reduction in principal sought by so many homeowners in litigation.

Countrywide Found Guilty of Fraud, JPM Criminal Responsibility for Madoff PONZI Scheme

“The words PONZI SCHEME and FRAUD applied to the mortgage meltdown has been largely dismissed by policy makers, law enforcement and regulators. Instead we heard the terms RISKY BEHAVIOR and RECKLESSNESS. Now law enforcement has finally completed its investigation and determined that those who set the tone and culture of Wall Street were deeply involved in the Madoff PONZI scheme and were regularly committing FRAUD in the creation and sale of mortgage bonds and the underlying “DEFECTIVE” loans. The finding shows that these plans were not risky nor reckless. They were intentional and designed to deceive and cause damage to everyone relying upon their false representations. The complex plan of false claims of securitization is now being pierced making claims of “plausible deniability” RISKY and RECKLESS.

And if the loans were defective there is no reason to believe that this applies only to the loans claimed to be in default. It applies to all loans subject to false claims of securitization, false documentation for non existent transactions, and fraudulent collection practices by reporting and collecting on balances that were fraudulently stated in the first instance. At this point all loans are suspect, all loan balances stated are suspect, and all Foreclosures based on these loans were frauds upon the court, should be vacated and the homeowner reinstated to ownership of the property and possession of the property. All such loans should have the loan balance adjusted by the courts for appropriate set off in denying the borrowers the benefit of the bargain that was presented to them.

“It is now difficult to imagine a scenario where the finding of the intentional use and creation of defective mortgages will not trickle down to all mortgage litigation. The Countrywide decision is the first that expressly finds them guilty of creating defective loans. It is impossible to believe that Countrywide’s intentional acts of malfeasance won’t spread to the investment banks that used Countrywide as the aggregator of defective loans (using the proprietary desk top underwriting software for originators to get approval). The reality is coming up, front and center. And Judges who ignore the defenses of homeowners who were of course defrauded by the same defective mortgages are now on notice that bias towards the banks simply doesn’t work in the real world.” — Neil F Garfield,www.livinglies.me October 24, 2013

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By Neil F Garfield, Esq. Tallahassee, Florida October 24, 2013. If the mortgages were defective and were used fraudulently to gain illicit profits it is not possible to avoid the conclusions that homeowners are among the victims. By using false appraisals the huge banks created the illusion of rising prices. This was manipulation of market prices just as the banks were found guilty of manipulating stated market rates for interbank lending “LIBOR” and use of the manipulated pricing to trade for further benefit knowing that the reality was different. The banks have continued this pattern behavior and are still doing it, and laying fines as a cost of doing business in the manipulation and ownership of natural resources. They are a menace to all societies on the planet. The threat of that menace must be removed In the face of a clear and present danger posed by the real world knowledge that where an opportunity arises for “moral hazard” the banks will immediately use it causing further damage to government, taxpayers, consumers and investors.

None of it was disclosed or even referenced at the alleged loan closing with borrowers despite federal and state laws that require all such undisclosed profits and compensation to be disclosed or suffer the consequence of required payment to the borrower of all such undisclosed compensation. The borrowers are obviously entitled to offset for the false appraisals used by lenders to induce borrowers to accept defective loan products.

Further, borrowers have a clear right of action for treble damages for the pattern of conduct that constituted fraud as a way of doing business. In addition, borrowers can now be scene through a clear lens — that they are entitled to the benefit of the bargain that they reasonably thought they were getting. That they were deceived and coerced into accepting defective loans with undisclosed players and undisclosed compensation and undisclosed repayment terms raises the probability now that borrowers who present their case well, could well start getting punitive damages awards with regularity. It’s easy to imagine the closing argument for exemplary or punitive damages — “$10 billion wasn’t enough to stop them, $25 billion wasn’t enough to stop of them, so you, members of the jury, must decide what will get their attention without putting them out of business. You have heard evidence of the tens of billions of dollars in profits they have reported. It’s up to you to decide what will stop the banks from manipulating the marketplace, fraudulently selling defective loans to borrowers and pension funds alike with the intention of deceiving them and knowing that they would reasonably rely on their misrepresentations. You decide.”

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U.S. prepares to take action against JPMorgan over Madoff
In what would be an almost unheard of move when it comes to U.S. banks, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office are in talks with JPMorgan (JPM) about imposing a deferred prosecution agreement over allegations that the bank turned a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the NYT reports.
Authorities would suspend criminal charges against JPMorgan but impose a fine and other concessions, and warn the bank that it will face indictments over any future misconduct.
However, the government has not decided to charge any current or former JPMorgan employees.
The report comes as the bank holds talks with various regulators over a $13B deal to settle claims about its mortgage practices.

Countrywide found guilty in U.S. mortgage suit
A federal jury has found Bank of America’s (BAC -2.1%) Countrywide unit liable for defrauding Fannie Mae (FNMA +22%) and Freddie Mac (FMCC +19.4%) by selling them thousands of defective mortgages.
The judge will determine the amount of the penalty – the U.S. has requested $848M, the gross loss to the GSEs as calculated by its expert witness.
The suit centered on Countrywide’s HSSL – High Speed Swim Lane – program instituted in August 2007, says the government, to keep the music playing as the property market was falling apart.

DOJ probes nine leading banks over sale of mortgage debt
The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating nine major banks over the sale of problematic mortgage bonds, although the probes are for civil infractions rather than criminal ones.
The banks are Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), RBS (RBS), UBS (UBS) and Wells Fargo (WFC).
The inquiries span U.S. attorney’s offices from California to Massachusetts, and come as JPMorgan tries to reach a multi-billion dollar settlement over the issue.

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