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.

Unconscionable and Negligent Conduct in Loan Modification Practices

JOIN US EVERY THURSDAY AT 6PM Eastern time on The Neil Garfield Show. We will discuss the Stenberger decision and other important developments affecting consumers, borrowers and banks. We had 561 listeners so far who were on the air with us or who downloaded the show. Thank you — that is a good start for our first show. And thank you Patrick Giunta, Esq. (Broward County Attorney) as our first guest. For more information call 954-495-9867.

In the case of Wane v. Loan Corp. the 11th Circuit struck down the borrower’s attempt to rescind. The reasoning in that case had to do with whether the originator was the real lender. I think, based upon my review of that and other cases, that the facts were not totally known and perhaps could have been and then included in the pleading. It is one thing to say that you don’t think the originator actually paid for the loan. It is quite another to say that a third party did actually pay for the loan and failed to get the note and mortgage or deed of trust executed properly to protect the real source of funds. In order to do that you might need the copy of the wire transfer receipt and wire transfer instructions and potentially a forensic report showing the path of “securitization” which probably never happened.

The importance of the Steinberger decision (see prior post) is that it reverts back to simple doctrines of law rather the complexity and resistance in the courts to apply the clear wording in the Truth in Lending Act. The act says that any statement indicating the desire to rescind within the time limits set forth in the statute is sufficient to nullify the mortgage or deed of trust by operation of law unless the alleged creditor/lender files an action within the prescribed time limits. It is a good law and it covers a lot of the abuses that we see in the legal battleground. But Judges are refusing to apply it. And that includes Appellate courts including the 9th Circuit that wrote into the statute the requirement that the money be tendered “back to the creditor” in order for the rescission to have any legal effect.

The 9th Circuit obviously is saying the they refuse to abide by the statute. The tender back to the creditor need only be a statement that the homeowner is prepared to execute a note and mortgage in favor of the real lender. To tender the money “back” to the originator is to assume they made the loan, which ordinarily was not the case. The courts are getting educated but they are not at the point where they “get it.”

But with the Steinberger decision we can get similar results without battling the rescission issue that so far is encountering nothing but resistance. That case manifestly agrees that a borrower can challenge the authority of those who are claiming money from him or her and that if there are problems with the mortgage, the foreclosure or the modification program in which the borrower was lured into actions that caused the borrower harm, there are damages for the “lender” to pay. The recent Wells Fargo decision posted a few days ago said the same thing. The logic behind that applies to the closing as well.

So lawyers should start thinking about more basic common law doctrines and use the statutes as corroboration for the common law cause of action rather than the other way around. Predatory practices under TILA can be alleged under doctrines of unconscionability and negligence. Title issues, “real lender” issues can be attacked using common law negligence.

Remember that the common allegation of the “lenders” is that they are “holders” — not that they are holders in due course which would require them to show that they paid value for the note and that they have the right to enforce it and collect because the money is actually owed to them. The “holders” are subject to claims detailed in the Steinberger decision without reference to TILA, RESPA or any of the other claims that the courts are resisting. As holders they are subject to all claims and defenses of the borrower. And remember as well that it is a mistake to assume that the mortgage or deed of trust is governed by Article 3 of the UCC. Security instruments are only governed by Article 9 and they must be purchased for value for a party to be able to enforce them.

All of this is predicated on real facts that you can prove. So you need forensic research and analysis. The more specific you are in your allegations, the more difficult it will be for the trial court to throw your claims and defenses out of court because they are hypothetical or too speculative.

Question: who do we sue? Answer: I think the usual suspects — originator, servicers, broker dealer, etc. but also the closing agent.

Mortgage Lenders Network and Wells Fargo Battled over Servicer Advances

It is this undisclosed yield spread premium that produces the pool from which I believe the servicer advances are actually being paid. Intense investigation and discovery will probably reveal the actual agreements that show exactly that. In the meanwhile I encourage attorneys to look carefully at the issue of “servicer advances” as a means to defeat the foreclosure in its entirety.

As usual, the best decisions come from cases where the parties involved in “securitization” are fighting with each other. When a borrower brings up the same issues, the court is inclined to disregard the borrower’s defense as merely an attempt to get out of  a legitimate debt. In the Case of Mortgage Lenders  versus Wells Fargo (395 B.K. 871 (2008)), it is apparent that servicer advances are a central issue. For one thing, it demonstrates the incentive of servicers to foreclose even though the foreclosure will result in a greater loss to the investor then if a workout or modification had been used to save the loan.

See MLN V Wells Fargo

It also shows that the servicers were very much aware of the issue and therefore very much aware that between the borrower and the lender (investor or creditor) there was no default, and on a continuing basis any theoretical default was being cured on a monthly basis. And as usual, the parties and the court failed to grasp the real economics. Based on information that I have received from people were active in the bundling and sale of mortgage bonds and an analysis of the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreements, I think it is obvious that the actual money came from the broker dealer even though it is called a “servicer advance.” Assuming my analysis is correct, this would further complicate the legal issues surrounding servicer advances.

This case also demonstrates that it is in bankruptcy court that a judge is most likely to understand the real issues. State court judges generally do not possess the background, experience, training or time to grasp the incredible complexity created by Wall Street. In this case Wells Fargo moves for relief from the automatic stay (in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed by MLN) so that it could terminate the rights of MLN as a servicer, replacing MLN with Wells Fargo. The dispute arose over several issues, servicer advances being one of them. MLN filed suit against Wells Fargo alleging breach of contract and then sought to amend based on the doctrine of “unjust enrichment.” This was based upon the servicer advances allegedly paid by MLN that would be prospectively recovered by Wells Fargo.

The take away from this case is that there is no specific remedy for the servicer to recover advances made under the category of “servicer advances” but that one thing is clear —  the money paid to trust beneficiaries as “servicer advances” is not recoverable from the trust beneficiaries. The other thing that is obvious to Judge Walsh in his discussion of the facts is that it is in the servicing agreements between the parties that there may be a remedy to recover the advances; OR, if there is no contractual basis for recovering advances under the category of  “servicer advances” then there might be a basis to recover under the theory of unjust enrichment. As always, there is a complete absence in the documentation and in the discussion of this case as to the logistics of exactly how a servicer could recover those payments.

One thing that is perfectly clear however is that nobody seems to expect the trust beneficiaries to repay the money out of the funds that they had received. Hence the “servicer advance” is not a loan that needs to be repaid by the trust or trust beneficiaries. Logically it follows that if it is not a loan to the trust beneficiaries who received the payment, then it must be a payment that is due to the creditor; and if the creditor has received the payment and accepted it, the corresponding liability for the payment must be reduced.

Dan Edstrom, senior securitization analyst for the livinglies website, pointed this out years ago. Bill Paatalo, another forensic analyst of high repute, has been submitting the same reports showing the distribution reports indicating that the creditor is being paid on an ongoing basis. Both of them are asking the same question, to wit:  “if the creditor is being paid, where is the default?”

One attorney for US bank lamely argues that the trustee is entitled to both the servicer advances and turnover of rents if the property is an investment property. The argument is that there is no reason why the parties should not earn extra profit. That may be true and it may be possible. But what is impossible is that the creditor who receives a payment can nonetheless claim it as a payment still due and unpaid. If the servicer has some legal or equitable claim for recovery of the “servicer advances” then it can only be against the borrower, on whose behalf the payment was made. This means that a new transaction occurs each time such a payment is made to the trust beneficiaries. In that new transaction the servicer can claim “contribution” or “unjust enrichment” against the borrower. Theoretically that might bootstrap into a claim against the proceeds of the ultimate liquidation of the property, which appears to be the basis upon which the servicer “believes” that the money paid to the trust beneficiaries will be recoverable. Obviously the loose language in the pooling and servicing agreement about the servicer’s “belief” can lead to numerous interpretations.

What is not subject to interpretation is the language of the prospectus which clearly states that the investor who is purchasing one of these bogus mortgage bonds agrees that the money advanced for the purchase of the bond can be pooled by the broker-dealer; it is expressly stated that the investor can be paid out of this pool, which is to say that the investor can be paid with his own money for payments of interest and principal. This corroborates my many prior articles on the tier 2 yield spread premium. There is no discussion in the securitization documents as to what happens to that pool of money in the care custody and control of the broker-dealer (investment bank). And this corroborates my prior articles on the excess profits that have yet to be reported. And it explains why they are doing it again.

It doesn’t take a financial analyst to question why anyone would think it was a great business model to spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising for loan customers where the return is less than 5%. The truth in lending act passed by the federal government requires the participants who were involved in the processing of the loan to be identified and to disclose their actual compensation arising from the origination of the loan — even if the compensation results from defrauding someone. Despite the fact that most loans were subject to claims of securitization from 2001 to the present, none of them appear to have such disclosure. That means that under Reg Z the loans are “predatory per se.”

To say that these were table funded loans is an understatement. What was really occurring was fraudulent underwriting of the mortgage bonds and fraudulent underwriting of the underlying loans. The higher the nominal interest rate on the loans (which means that the risk of default is correspondingly higher) the less the broker-dealer needed to advance for origination or acquisition of the loan; and this is because the investor was led to believe that the loans would be low risk and therefore lower interest rates. The difference between the interest payment due to the investor and the interest payment allegedly due from the borrower allowed the broker-dealers to advance much less money for the origination or acquisition of loans than the amount of money they had received from the investors. That is a yield spread premium which is not been reported and probably has not been taxed.

It is this undisclosed yield spread premium that produces the pool from which I believe the servicer advances are actually being paid. Intense investigation and discovery will probably reveal the actual agreements that show exactly that. In the meanwhile I encourage attorneys to look carefully at the issue of “servicer advances” as a means to defeat the foreclosure in its entirety.

I caution that when enough cases have been lost as a result of servicer advances, the opposition will probably change tactics. While you can win the foreclosure case, it is not clear what the consequences of that might be. If it results in a final judgment for the homeowner then it might be curtains for anyone to claim any amount of money from the loan. But that is by no means assured. If it results in a dismissal, even with prejudice, it might enable the servicer to stop making advances and then declare a default if the borrower fails to make payments after the servicer has stopped making the payments. Assuming that a notice of acceleration of the debt has been declared, the borrower can argue that the foreclosing party has elected its own defective remedy and should pay the price. If past experience is any indication of future rulings, it seems unlikely that the courts will be very friendly towards that last argument.

Attorneys who wish to consult with me on this issue can book 1 hour consults by calling 520-405-1688.

ATTENTION LAWYERS: ARE SERVICER ADVANCES ARGUABLY A NOVATION

Where “servicer” advances to the trust beneficiaries are present, it explains the rush to foreclosure completely. It is not until the foreclosure is complete that the payor of the “servicer” advances can stop paying. Thus the obfuscation in the discovery process by servicers in foreclosure litigation is also completely explained. Further this would open the eyes of Judges to the fact that there may be other co-obligors that were involved (insurers, credit default swap counterparties etc.). Thus while the creditor is completely satisfied and has experienced no default, the servicer is claiming a default in order to protect the interest of the servicer and broker-dealer (investment bank). It is a lie. — Neil F Garfield, http://www.livinglies.me

This is not for layman. This is directed at lawyers. Any pro se litigant who tries doing something with this is likely to be jumping off a legal cliff so don’t do it without consultation with a lawyer. If you ARE a lawyer, you might find this very enlightening and helpful in developing a strategy to WIN rather than delay the “inevitable.”

I was thinking about this problem when the servicer advances are paid. Such advances are in an amount that satisfies the creditor. If the creditor is named as the real party in interest in a foreclosure, there is an inherent contradiction on the face of the situation. Someone other than the creditor is alleging a default when the creditor will tell you they are just fine — they have received all scheduled payments. Even though it is most likely that the money came from the broker-dealer I was thinking that this might be a novation or a failed attempt at novation.  A definition of novation is shown below. Here’s my thinking:

1.  the receipt of payment by the trust beneficiaries satisfies in full the payment they were to receive under the contract between them and the REMIC trust.

2.  if the foreclosure action is brought by the trust or the trust beneficiaries, directly or indirectly, they can’t say that they have actually experienced a default, since they have payment in full.

3. Some entity is initiating the foreclosure action and some representative capacity on behalf of of the trust or the trust beneficiaries as the creditor.  If the borrower has ceased making payments and no other payments are received by the trust or the trust beneficiaries relating to the subject loan then it is arguably true that the borrower has defaulted and the lender has experienced the default.

4.  But in those cases where the  borrower has ceased making payments but  full payment has been sent and accepted by the lender as identified in the foreclosure action, does not seem possible for a declaration of default by that lender to be valid or even true.

5. But it is equally true that the borrower has ceased making payments under an alleged contract, which the foreclosing party is alleging as a default relating to the lender that has been identified as such in the subject action.

6. In actuality the servicer advances have probably been paid by the broker-dealer out of a fund that  was permitted to be formed out of the investment dollars advanced by the investors for the purchase of the mortgage bonds. Presumably this fund would exist in a trust account maintained by the trustee for the asset-backed trust. In actuality it appears as though these funds were kept by the broker dealer. The prospectus specifically states that the investors can be repaid out of this fund which consists of the investment dollars advanced by the investors.
7. But these nonstop servicer advances are designated as payments by the servicer.

8.  And it is stated in the pooling and servicing agreement that the nonstop servicer advances may not be recovered from the servicer nor anyone else.

9.  That means that the money received by the trust beneficiaries is simply a payment of the obligation of the trust under the original agreement by which the trust beneficiaries advanced money as investors purchasing the mortgage bonds.

10. In other settings such payments would be in accordance with agreements in which subrogation of the payor occurs or in which the claim is purchased. Here we have a different problem. At no point here is the entire claim subject to any claim of subrogation or purchase. It is only the payments that have been made that is the subject of the dispute. That opens the door to potential claims of multiple creditors each of whom can show that they have attained the status of a creditor by virtue of actual value or consideration paid.

11.  But regardless of who makes payments to the trust beneficiaries or why they made such payments, the trust beneficiaries are under no obligation to return the payments. Hence the trust beneficiaries have experienced no default and the alleged mortgage bond avoids the declaration of a credit event that would decrease the value of the bond. That keeps the investors happy and the broker dealer out of hot water (note the hundreds of claims totaling around $200 billion thus far in settlements because the broker dealer didn’t do many of the things they were supposed to do to protect the investors). NOTE ALSO: The payment and acceptance of the regularly scheduled payments to the trust beneficiaries would cure any default in all events.

12.  But the entity that has initiated the foreclosure action is still going to argue that the borrower has breached the terms of the note and has failed to make the regularly scheduled payments and that therefore the borrower is in default. But they cannot say that the borrower defaulted in its obligation to the creditor since the creditor is already satisfied.

13. Even where we have successfully established that the origination of the loan occurred with the funds of the investor and not the named payee on the note or the named mortgagee on the mortgage, a debt still exists to the investors for the amount that is not paid by anyone. This debt would arise by operation of law since the borrower accepted the money and the investor lenders are the source of that money.

14. So the first issue that arises out of this complex series of transactions and a complex chain of documents (that appear to reflect transactions that never occurred), is whether the creator of this scheme unintentionally opened the door to allow a borrower to stop making payments and require the servicer or broker-dealer to continue making nonstop servicer advances the satisfying the obligation to the so-called secured creditor alleged in the initiation of the foreclosure action. If the obligation is indefinite as to duration, this might have a substantial impact on the amount due, the amount demanded and whether the original notice of default was fatally defective in stating the amount required for reinstatement and even claiming the default.

15.  I therefore come to the second issue which is that in such cases a second obligation arises when the first one has been satisfied by the payment from a third-party. The second obligation is clearly not secured unless a partial assignment of the mortgage and note has been executed and recorded to protect the servicer or broker-dealer or whoever made the payments to the trust beneficiaries under the nonstop servicer advances. This clearly did not occur. And if it did occur it would be void under the terms of the trust instrument, i.e., the pooling and servicing agreement.

16.  The only lawsuits I can imagine filed by the party who made such payments to the trust beneficiaries are causes of action against the homeowner (not to be called a “borrower” anymore) for contribution or unjust enrichment. And as I say, there could be no claims that the debt is secured since the security instrument is pledged to the trust beneficiaries and executed in favor of a third party that is different from the party that made the nonstop servicer advances to the trust beneficiaries.

17.  I am therefore wondering whether or not novation should be alleged in order to highlight the fact that the second obligation has been created. Some sort of equitable novation would also allow the Judge to satisfy himself or herself that he or she is not encouraging people to borrow money and not pay it back while at the same time punishing those who created the mad scheme and thus lost the rights set forth in the security agreement (mortgage, deed of trust etc.). Based on the definition below, it might be that the novation could not have occurred without the signature of the borrower. But  the argument in favor of characterizing the transactions as a novation might be helpful in highlighting the fact that with the undisputed creditors satisfied, that no default has occurred, and that any purported default has been waived or cured, and that we know that a new liability has been created by operation of law in favor of the party that made the payments.

18.  And that brings me to my last point. I would like to see what party it is that claims to have made the non-stop servicer payments. If the payments came from a reserve pool created out of the investment dollars funded by the investors, it would be difficult to argue that the  borrower has become unjustly enriched at the expense of the broker-dealer. The circular logic created in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement would obviously not be construed against the borrower who was denied access to the information that would have disclosed the existence of these complex documents and complex transactions, despite federal and state law to the contrary. (TILA and RESPA, Reg Z etc.)

COMMENTS are invited.

————
FROM WIKIPEDIA —

In contract law and business law, novation is the act of either:

  1. replacing an obligation to perform with a new obligation; or
  2. adding an obligation to perform; or
  3. replacing a party to an agreement with a new party.

In contrast to an assignment, which is valid so long as the obligee (person receiving the benefit of the bargain) is given notice, a novation is valid only with the consent of all parties to the original agreement: the obligee must consent to the replacement of the original obligor with the new obligor.[1] A contract transferred by the novation process transfers all duties and obligations from the original obligor to the new obligor.

For example, if there exists a contract where Dan will give a TV to Alex, and another contract where Alex will give a TV to Becky, then, it is possible to novate both contracts and replace them with a single contract wherein Dan agrees to give a TV to Becky. Contrary to assignment, novation requires the consent of all parties. Consideration is still required for the new contract, but it is usually assumed to be the discharge of the former contract.

Another classic example is where Company A enters a contract with Company B and a novation is included to ensure that if Company B sells, merges or transfers the core of their business to another company, the new company assumes the obligations and liabilities that Company B has with Company A under the contract. So in terms of the contract, a purchaser, merging party or transferee of Company B steps into the shoes of Company B with respect to its obligations to Company A. Alternatively, a “novation agreement” may be signed after the original contract[2] in the event of such a change. This is common in contracts with governmental entities; an example being under the United States Anti-Assignment Act, the governmental entity that originally issued the contract must agree to such a transfer or it is automatically invalid by law.

The criteria for novation comprise the obligee’s acceptance of the new obligor, the new obligor’s acceptance of the liability, and the old obligor’s acceptance of the new contract as full performance of the old contract. Novation is not a unilateral contract mechanism, hence allows room for negotiation on the new T&Cs under the new circumstances. Thus, ‘acceptance of the new contract as full performance of the old contract’ may be read in conjunction to the phenomenon of ‘mutual agreement of the T&Cs.[1]

Application in financial markets

Novation is also used in futures and options trading to describe a special situation where the central clearing house interposes itself between buyers and sellers as a legal counter party, i.e., the clearing house becomes buyer to every seller and vice versa. This obviates the need for ascertaining credit-worthiness of each counter party and the only credit risk that the participants face is the risk of the clearing house defaulting. In this context, novation is considered a form of risk management.

The term is also used in markets that lack a centralized clearing system, such as swap trading and certain over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, where “novation” refers to the process where one party to a contract may assign its role to another, who is described as “stepping into” the contract. This is analogous to selling a futures contract.

Banking Shaping American Minds

“I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth — one shred of evidence.” — Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman, 2009

“We have allowed the borrower to get raped and then we have gone to the rapist for a course on sex education. Thus the investors (pension funds who will announce reductions in vested pensions) and the homeowners have been screwed on such a grand scale that the entire economy of our country and indeed the world have been turned upside down.” — Neil F Garfield, livinglies.me 2012

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What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Comment: The article below is very much like my own recent article on privatized prisons and the inversion of critical thinking in favor of allowing economic crimes to have a special revered status in our society. Kim highlights the rampage allowed to continue to this day in which Banks are ravaging our society and supporting anything that will confuse us or indoctrinate us to accept outright theft from our society, our purses, and our lives.

It is this lack of critical thinking that has made it so difficult for homeowners to get credit on loan balances that are already paid down by parties who expressly waived any right to collect from the borrower. It is the reason Judges are so reluctant to allow homeowner relief because they perceive the fight as one in which the homeowners are only expressing buyer’s remorse on an otherwise valid transaction.

It is the reason why lawyers are reluctant to deny the debt, deny the balance, deny that a payment was due, deny the default, deny the note as evidence of any debt, deny the validity of the mortgage and counter with actions to nullify the instruments signed by confused and befuddled borrowers assured by the banks that they were making a safe and viable investment.

In most civil cases Plaintiff sues Defendant and Defendant denies most of the allegations — forcing the Plaintiff to prove its case. Not so in foreclosure defense. Lawyers, afraid of looking foolish because they have not researched the matter, refuse to deny the falsity of the allegations in mortgage foreclosure complaint, notice of default and notice of sale. Lawyers are afraid to attack sales despite decisions by Supreme Courts of many states, on the grounds that the sale was rigged, the bidder was a non-creditor submitting a credit bid, and the fact that the forecloser never had any privity with the homeowner, never spent a dime funding any mortgage and never spent a dime funding the purchase of a mortgage.

The quote from the independent analysis of the records in San Francisco County concluded that a high percentage of foreclosures were initiated and completed by entities that were complete “strangers to the transaction.” Why this is ignored by members of the judiciary, the media and government agencies is a question of power and politics. Why it MUST be utilized to save millions more from the sting of foreclosure is the reason I keep writing, the reason I consult with dozens of lawyers across the country and why I have moved back to Florida where I am taking on cases.

As a result of the perception of the inevitability of the foreclosure most court actions are decided in favor of the forecloser because of the presumption that the transaction was valid, the default is real, and that no forgery or fabrication of documents changes those facts. The forgeries and fabrications and robo-signed documents are bad things but the “fact” remains in everyone’s mind that the ultimate foreclosure will proceed. That “fact” has been reinforced by inappropriate admissions from the alleged borrower, who never received a nickle from the loan originator or any assignee.

The lawyers are admitting all the elements necessary for a foreclosure and then moving on to attack the paperwork. Theoretically they are right in attacking assignments and endorsements that are falsified, but if they have already admitted all the basic elements for a foreclosure to proceed, then the foreclosure WILL proceed and if they have any real damages they can sue for monetary relief.

But under the current perception carefully orchestrated by the banks, there are no damages because the debt was real, the borrower admitted it, the payments were due, the borrower failed to make the payments, and the mortgage is a valid lien on the property securing a note which is false on its face but which is accepted as true.

Even the borrowers are not seeing the truth because the people with the real information on the ones that are foreclosing on them. So borrowers, knowing they received a loan, do not question where the loan came from and whether the protections required by the truth in lending statute, RESPA and other federal and state lending laws were violated. We have allowed the borrower to get raped and then we have gone to the rapist for a course on sex education. Thus the investors (pension funds who will announce reductions in vested pensions) and the homeowners have been screwed on such a grand scale that the entire economy of our country and indeed the world have been turned upside down.

Deny and Discover is getting traction across the country, with a focus on the actual money trail — which is the trail of real transactions in which there was an offer, acceptance and consideration between the relevant parties. More and more lawyers are trying it out and surprising themselves with the results. Slowly they are starting to realize that neither the origination of the, loan as set forth in the settlement documents at closing nor the assignments and endorsements were real.

The debt described in the note does not exist and never did. Neither was it the same deal that the lender/investors meant to offer through their investment bankers.

The note and the bond have decidedly different terms of repayment. The payment of insurance and credit de fault swaps to the banks was a crime unto itself — a diversion of money that was intended to protect the investors. The balances owed to those investors would have been correspondingly reduced. The balances owed from the borrowers should be correspondingly reduced by payment received by the only real creditor.

Thus millions of homeowners have walked away from homes they owned on the false representation that the balance owed on their homes was more than they could pay. And the messengers of doom were the banks, depriving investors of money due to them and depriving the borrower of the real facts about their loan balances. Lawyers with only a passing familiarity have either told borrowers that they have no real case against the banks or they take a retainer on a case they know they are going to lose because they will admit things that they don’t realize are false. And Judges hearing the admissions, have no choice but to let the foreclosure proceed.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t come back and overturn it, get damages for wrongful foreclosure, and this is where lawyers have turned bad lawyering into bad business. There is a fortune to be made out there pursuing justice for homeowners. And the case far from the complexity brought to the table by the banks is actually quite simple. Like any other civil case or even criminal case, stop admitting facts that you don’t know are are true and which are in actuality false.

In every case I know of, where the lawyer has followed Deny and Discover and presented it in a reasonable way to the Judge, the orders requiring discovery and proof have resulted in nearly instant “confidential” settlements. Some lawyers and waking up and making millions of dollars helping thousands of homeowners —- why not join the crowd?

Banks Stealing Wealth and the Minds of Our Children

by JS Kim

In the past several years, people worldwide are slowly beginning to shed the web of deceit woven by the banking elite and learning that many topics that were mocked by the mainstream media as conspiracy theories of the tin-foil hat community have now been proven to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt. First there was the myth that bankers were upstanding members of the community that contributed positively to society. Then in 2009, one of their own, Paul Volcker, in a rare momentary lapse of sanity, stated “I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth — one shred of evidence.” He then followed up this declaration by stating that the most positive contribution bankers had produced for society in the past 20 years was the ATM machine. Of course since that time, we have learned that Wachovia Bank laundered $378,400,000,000 of drug cartel money, HSBC Bank failed to monitor £38,000,000,000,000 of money with potentially dirty criminal ties, United Bank of Switzerland illegally manipulated LIBOR interest rates on a regular basis for purposes of profiteering, and though they have yet to be prosecuted, JP Morgan bank, Goldman Sachs bank, & ScotiaMocatta bank are all regularly accused of manipulating gold and silver prices on nearly a daily basis by many veteran gold and silver traders.

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-01-03/banking-elite-are-not-only-stealing-our-wealth-they-are-also-stealing-our-min

9th Circuit Circular Logic: Medrano v Flagstar

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Editor’s Note: If a Court wants to come to a certain conclusion, it will, regardless of how it must twist the law or facts. In this case, the Court found that a letter that challenges the terms of the loan or the current loan receivable is not a qualified written request under RESPA.

The reasoning of the court is that a challenge or question about the real balance and real creditor and real terms of the deal is not related to servicing of the loan and therefore the requirement of an answer to a QWR is not required.

The Court should reconsider its ruling. Servicing of a loan account assumes that there is a loan account that the presumed subservicer has received authorization to service. The borrower gets notice often from companies they never heard of but they assume that the servicing function is properly authorized.

The “servicer” is used too generally as a term, which is part of the problem. The fact that there is a Master Servicer with information on ALL the transactions affecting the alleged loan receivable from inception to the present is completely overlooked by most litigants, trial judges an appellate courts.

The “servicer” they refer to is actually the subservicer whose authority could only come from appointment by the Master Servicer. But the Master Servicer could only have such power to appoint the subservicer if the loan was properly “securitized” meaning the original loan was properly documented with the right payee and the lien rights alleged in the recorded mortgage existed.

If the party asserts itself as the “Servicer” it is asserting its appointment by the Master Servicer who also has other information on the money trial. It should be required to answer a QWR and based upon current law, should be required to answer on behalf of all parties including the Master Servicer and the “trustee” of the loan pool claiming rights to the loan. If there are problems with the transfer of the loan compounding problems with origination of the loan, the borrower has a right to know that and the QWR is the appropriate vehicle for that.

The servicer cannot perform its duties unless it has the or can produce the necessary information about the identity of the real creditor, the transactions by which that party became a creditor and proof of payment or funding of the original loan and proof of payment for the assignments of the loan, along with an explanation of why the “Trustee” for the pool was not named in the original transaction or in a recorded assignment immediately after the “closing” of the loan transaction.

The 9th Circuit, ignoring the realities of the industry has chosen to accept the conclusion that the “servicer” is only the subservicer and that information requested in a QWR can only be required from the subservicer without any duty to provide the data that corroborates the monthly statement of principal and interest due. The new rule from the Federal Consumer Financial Board stating that all parties are subject to the Federal lending laws underscores and codifies industry practice and common sense.

The Court is ignoring the reality that the lender is the investor (pension funds etc.) and the borrower is the homeowner, and that all others are intermediaries subject to TILA, RESPA, Reg Z etc. The servicer appointed by the Master Servicer is a subservicer who can only provide a snapshot of a small slice of the financial transactions related to the subject loan and the pool claiming to own the loan.

They are avoiding the clear premise of the single transaction doctrine. If the investors did not advance money there would have been no loan. If the borrower had not accepted a loan, there would have been no loan. That is the essence of the single transaction doctrine.

Now they are opening the door to breaking down single transactions into component parts that can change the contractual terms by which the lenders loaned money and the borrower borrowed money.

It is the same as if you wrote a check to a store for payment of a TV or groceries and the intermediary banks and the financial data processors suddenly claimed that they each were part of the transaction and there had ownership rights to the TV or groceries. It is absurd. But if the question is one of payment they are ALL required to show their records of the transaction. This includes in our case the investment banker who is the one directing all movements of money and documents.

If the Court leaves this decision in its current form it is challenging the law of unintended consequences where no transaction is safe from claims by third party intermediaries. Even if Flagstar had no authority to service the account, which is likely, they were acting with apparent authority and must be considered an intermediary servicer for purposes of RESPA and a QWR.

PRACTICE TIP: When writing a QWR be more explicit about the connections between your questions, your suspicion of error as to amount due, payments due etc. Show that the amount being used as a balance due is incorrect or might be incorrect based upon your findings of fact. Challenge the right of the “servicer” to be the servicer and ask them who appointed them to that position.

9th Circuit Medrano v Flagstar on Qualified Written Request

The Truth About TILA

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Victims can receive up to $125,000 in cash or, in some cases, get their homes back. But the review has already been marred by evidence that the banks themselves play a major role in identifying the victims of their own abuses, raising the question of whether the review is compromised by a central conflict of interest.”

Editor’s Comment and Analysis: There have been so many questions and misconceptions about TILA that I thought it would be a good thing to summarize some aspects of it, how it is used in forensic examination and the limitations of TILA. Note that the absence of a prohibition in TILA or the apparent expiration of TILA does not block common law actions based upon the same facts and some states have more liberal statutes of limitations. TILA is a federal law called the Truth in Lending Act. It’s principal purpose according to all accounts and seminars given on the subject is to provide the borrower with a clear choice of lenders with whom he/she wants to do business and clear terms for comparison of terms offered by each lender. It is also designed to smoke out undisclosed parties who are receiving compensation and it has real teeth in clawing back such undisclosed compensation.

Undisclosed compensation is very broadly defined in TILA so it is fairly easy to apply to anyone who made money resulting from the purported loan transaction, and the clawback might include treble damages, attorneys fees and other relief. Note that rescission does NOT mean you must offer up the house (“give it back”) to the lender. The lender, if there was one, gave you money not a house. rescission is a reversal of that transaction which means you must tender (according to the 9th Circuit) money in exchange for cancellation of the transaction. If you follow the rules, a TILA rescission eliminates the note and mortgage by operation of law, so while you have the right to demand and sue for return of the note as paid and satisfaction of the mortgage (release and reconveyance in some states). Unless the “lender” files a Declaratory action (lawsuit) within 20 days of your demand for rescission, the security is gone and can be eliminated in bankruptcy.

Use of the rescission remedy can be employed in bankruptcy actions as well where the Judge has wide discretion as to what constitutes “tender” (including a payment plan). Some Judges have interpreted the statute as it si written which does not require tender. The 9th Circuit disagrees.

As to the statute of limitations, it simply does not apply if the “lender” has intentionally mislead the borrower, committed fraud or otherwise withheld information that is deemed fundamental to the disclosures required by TILA. This is the most common error committed by borrowers and their attorneys. In most cases the table funded loan is “predatory per se” and gives you a leg up on the allegation of fraud or misrepresentation at closing.

Fraud may be fraud in the inducement (they told you that even though your payments would reset to an amount higher than your household income has ever been, you would be refinanced, get even more money and be able to fund the payments through additional equity in the house).

Fraud may be in the execution where you signed papers that you didn’t realize was not the deal you were offered or which contained provisions that were just plain wrong. If you thought that you were getting a loan from BNC and the loan was in fact funded by another entity unrelated and undisclosed, then your legal obligation to repay the money naturally goes back to the the third party. But the presence of the third party indicates a table funded loan, which is predatory per se; and the terms of repayment are different from what was offered or what was agreed to by the lender acting through the investment banker that was creating (but not necessarily using) REMICs or trusts. In plain words the mortgage bond and the prospectus, PSA and other securitization are at substantial variance from what was put on the note, including the name of the payee on the note and the name put on the security instrument (Mortgage or deed of trust).

The office of the controller has published a series of papers describing the meaning and intent of TILA and to whom it applies, even pre Dodd-Frank.

For example, it describes “Conditions Under Which Loan Originators Are Regulated as Loan Underwriters.” Thus the use of a strawman is expressly referred to in the OCC papers (see below) and there are specific indicia of whether an entity is in fact a loan underwriter, which is the basis for my continual statement that a loan originator is not a lender (pretender lender) and the very presence of a loan originator on the paperwork is a violation of TILA tolling any state of limitations.

If the loan originator is not a bank or savings and loan or credit union, then the highest probability is that the name on the note and the name on the mortgage is wrong. They didn’t loan the money. Your signature was procured by both fraud in the inducement and fraud in the execution, because it was predicated upon that payee giving a loan of money. “Arranging” the loan from a third party doesn’t count as being a lender. It counts as being a licensed broker or the more vague term of loan “originator.” The arguments of the banks and servicers to the contrary are completely wrong and bogus.If they were right, for purposes of collection and foreclosure that the origination documents were enforceable then that would mean that there would be a window immediately following closing where you could not actually rescind or even pay off the obligation because the originator has no right, justification,, power or excuse to execute a release and reconveyance. The loan already belonged to someone else and the paperwork was defective, which is why investors are suing the investment bankers alleging principally that they were victims of fraud: they were lied to about what was in the REMIC, lied to about what was going into the REMIC, and then even the claimed paperwork on defaulted and other loans were not properly assigned because they never started with the actual owner of the obligation.

Thus the theory put forward by banks and servicers and other parties in the foreclosure scheme that the origination documents are enforceable falls flat on its face. Those documents, taken on their face were never supported by actual consideration from the named parties. If the investment banks weren’t playing around with investment money deposited with them by managed investment funds, the name of the REMIC or group of investors would be on the origination documents.

In the case where the originator is a bank, one must look more closely at the transaction to see if they ever booked the loan as a loan receivable or if they booked the transaction as a fee for services to the investment bank. This is true even where mega banks appear to be the originators but were not the underwriters of the loan.

If you are looking for the characteristics of a loan underwriter, versus a loan originator the OCC paper provides a list. In the case of banks the presence of some of these characteristics may be irrelevant in the subject transaction if they treated the “securitized” loan differently through different departments than their normal underwriting process. There such a bank would appear to be a loan underwriter, but when you scratch the surface, you can easily see how the bank was merely posing as the lender and was no better than the small-cap originators that sprung up across the country who were used to provide the mega banks with cover and claims to plausible deniability as to the existence of malfeasance at the so-called closing:

  1. Risk Management Officers in Senior Management: In the case of small cap originators it would be rare to find anyone that even had the title much less acted like a risk management officer. In the case of banks, the presence in the bank of such an officer does not mean that he or she was involved in the transaction. They probably were not.
  2. Verification of employment: There are resources on the internet that enable the bank to check the likelihood of employment, as well as the usual checking for pay stubs and calling the employer. In a matter of moments they can tell you if a person who cleans homes for a living is likely to have an income of $15,000 per month. Common sense plays a part in this as well. This was entirely omitted in most loans as shown by operation “hustle” and other similar named projects emphasized that to retain employment and get out-sized bonuses far above previous salaries the originator employee must close the loan, no matter what — which led to changing the applications to say whatever they needed to say, often without the borrower even knowing about the changes or told “not to worry about it” even though the information was wrong.
  3. Employment conforms to income stated. See above. I have seen cases where a massage therapist making $500 per month was given a seven figure loan based upon projected income from speculative investment that turned out to be a scam. She lost two fully paid for homes in that scam. If normal underwriting standards had been employed she would not have been approved for the loan, the scam would never have damaged her and she would still be a wealthy woman.
  4. Verification of value of collateral. Note that this is a responsibility of the lender, not the borrower. Quite the reverse, the borrower is relying reasonably that the appraisal was right because the bank verified it. In fact, the appraiser was paid extra and given explicit instructions to arrive at an appraised value above the amount required, usually by $20,000. By enlarging the apparent value of the collateral, the originators were able to satisfy the insatiable demand from Wall Street for either more loans or more money loaned on property. In 1996 when they ran out of borrowers, they simply took the existing population of borrowers and over-appraised their homes in refinancing that took place sometimes within 3 months of the last loan at 20% or more increase in the appraisal. That was plainly against industry standards for appraisals and obvious to anyone with common sense that the value could never have been verified. If you look at companies like Quicken Loans you will see on some settlements that they were not content to get overpaid for originating bad loans, they even took a piece of the appraisal fee.
  5. Verification of LTV ratios. Once the appraisals were falsified it was easy to make the loan look good. LTV often showed as 20% equity when in fact the value, as could be seen in some cases weeks after the closing was 20% or more lower than the the amount loaned. Many buyers immediately lost their down payment as soon as they thought the deal was complete (it wasn’t really complete as explained above). Because of the false appraisal, at the moment of closing their down payment was devalued to zero and they owed more money than the home was actually worth in real fair market value terms. Normal industry practice is to have a committee that goes through each loan verifying LTV because it is the only real protection in the event of default. In most cases involving loans later subject to claims of securitization, the committee did not exist or did not review the loan, the verification never happened and the only thing the originator was interested in was closing the loan because the compensation of the originator and their own salary and bonuses were based purely on the number or amount of “closed” loans.
  6. Verification of credit-worthiness of buyers. This is an area where many games were played. Besides the verification process described above, the originator was able to receive a yield spread premium that was not disclosed to the borrower and the investment bank that “sold” the loan was able to obtain an even larger yield spread premium that was not disclosed to the borrower. It is these fees that I believe are subject to clawback under TILA and RESPA. In the Deny and Discover strategy that I have been pushing, once the order is entered requiring the forecloser to produce the entire accounting from all parties associated with the loan, the foreclosure collapses and a settlement is reached. This can often be accomplished in a less adversarial action in Chapter 11.
  7. Verification of income and/or viability of loan for the life of the loan. This has a huge impact on the GFE (Good faith estimate) especially in adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and negative amortization mortgage loans (teaser rates). Plainly stated the question is whether the borrower would qualify for the loan based upon current income for when the loan resets. If the answer is no, which it usually is, then the life of the loan is a fabricated figure. Instead of it being a 30 year loan, the loan becomes much shorter reduced to the moment of reset of the payments, and all the costs and points charged for the loan must be amortized over the REAL LIFE of the loan. In such cases the “lender” is required to return all the interest, principal and other payments and other compensation received from all parties, possibly with treble damages and attorney fees. It’s pretty easy to prove as well. Most people think they can’t use this provision because of misstatements on the application. The obligation to verify the statements on the application is on the underwriter not the customer. And the law was written that way to cover just such a situation as this. If you paid 3 points to close and it was added to your loan or you paid in cash those points would substantially raise your effective APR or even stated interest rate if the loan life was reduced to two years. In many cases it would rise the level of usury, where state law provides for that.
  8. Vendor management: This is where even before Dodd-Frank you could catch them in the basket of allegations. The true management of the vendors lay not with the originator but with the investment banker who was selling mortgage bonds. This alone verified that the party on the note and named on the mortgage was an originator (strawman) and not an underwriter. And the accounting that everyone asks for should include a demand for an accounting from the investment banker and its affiliates who acted as Master Servicer, Trustee of a “pool,” etc.
  9. Compliance programs and audits: Nonexistent in originators and the presence of such procedures and employees is not proof that they were part of the process. Discovery will reveal that they were taken out of the loop on loans that were later claimed to be subject to claims of securitization.
  10. Effective Communication Systems and Controls: The only communication used was email or uploading of flat files to a server operated or controlled by the investment banker, containing bare bones facts about he loan, absent copies of any of the loan closing documents. This is how the investment bankers were able to claim ownership of the loans for purposes of foreclosure, bailouts, insurance, and credit default swaps when the real loss was incurred by the investors and the homeowners.
  11. Document Management: I need not elaborate, after the robo-signing, surrogate-signing, fabrication and forgeries that are well documented and even institutionalized as custom and practice in the industry. The documents were lost, destroyed, altered, fabricated and re-fabricated, forged in vain attempts to make them conform to the transaction that is alleged in foreclosures, but which never occurred. The borrowers and their lawyers are often fooled by this trick. They know the money was received, so their assumption was that the originator gave them the loan. This was not the case, In nearly all cases the loan was table funded — i.e., funded by an undisclosed principal access to whom was prohibited and withheld by the servicer, the originator and everyone else. AND remember that under Dodd-Frank the time limits for response to a RESPA 6 (QWR) inquiry have been reduced to 5 days and 30 days from 20 days and 60 days respectively.
  12. Submission of periodic information to appropriate regulatory agencies that regulate Banks or lenders: If the originator did not report to a regulatory agency, then it wasn’t a lender. If it did report to regulatory agencies the question is whether they ever included in any of their reports information about your loan. In most cases, the information about your loan was either omitted or falsified.
  13. Compliance with anti-fraud provisions on Federal and State levels: This characteristic would be laughable if wasn’t for the horrible toll taken upon millions of homeowners and tens of millions of people who suffered  unemployment, reduced employment and loss of their retirement funds.
  14. In house audits to assess exposure for financial loss through litigation, fraud, theft, loss business and wasted capital from failed strategic initiatives: The simple answer is that such audits were and remain virtually non-existent. Even the so-called foreclosure review process is breaking all the rules. But it wouldn’t hurt to ask, in discovery, for a copy of the plan of the audit and the results. The fact is that most banks involved in the PONZI scheme that was called “Securitization” are still not reporting accurately, still reporting non-existing or overvalued assets and still not reporting liabilities in litigation that are even close to reality.

See the rest of the OCC Paper:

TILA Summary Part 1 11-13-12

TILA Appendix Worksheets 11-13-12

TILA worksheets -2 — 11-13-12

Tenant Protection OCC 11-13-12

RESPA and Worksheets 11-13-12

Underwater homes under 40 and over 55 still in dire straights

Obama response unclear. He keeps saying that the  object here is not to include “undeserving” borrowers who are just trying to get out of a bad deal a deal that went bad or whose eyes were bigger than their pocket book. As long as he keeps saying that he is missing the whole point. This was a Ponzi Scheme and even if the borrowers were convicted felons behind bars they would still be victims of THIS Scheme. ALl the elements are present — identity theft, diversion of funds, false documentation to both sides, fabrication of documents as the lies came under scrutiny, forgeries, surrogate signing, robo-signing, and profits 1000 times the usual profits for processing or originating loans.

None of these profits were disclosed to either the lender-investor nor the homeowner borrower, violating a myriad of mending and contract laws. It doesn’t matter whether the borrower is perceived as deserving relief — they all are if they were fraud victims.

If the average guy on the street knows we have been screwed without all the economic statistics, why won’t Obama at least acknowledge it?

See Vast geography contains underwater homes inviting homeowners to walk away from homes they are willing to pay for

Message on the Forensic TILA Analysis — It’s a Lot More Than it Appears

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No doubt some of you know that we have had some challenges regarding the Forensic TILA analysis. It’s my fault. I decided that the plain TILA analysis was insufficient for courtroom use based upon the feedback that I was getting from lawyers across the country. Yet I believed then as I believe now that the only law that will actually give real help to the homeowners — past, present and future — is TILA, REG Z and RESPA. Once it dawns on more people that there were two closings, one that was hidden from the borrower which included the real money funding his loan and the other being a fake closing purporting to loan money to the homeowner in a transaction that never happened, the gates will start to open. But I am ahead of the curve on that.

For those patiently waiting for the revisions, I appreciate your words of kindness. And your words of wisdom regarding the content of the report which I have been wrestling with. I especially appreciate your willingness to continue doing business with us despite the lack of organizational skills and foresight that might have prevented this situation. I guess the problem boils down to the fact that when I started the blog in 2007 I never intended it to be a business. But as it evolved and demands grew we were unable to handle it without help from the outside. If I had known I was starting a business at the beginning I would have done things much differently.

At the moment I am wrestling with exactly how I want to portray the impact of the appraisal fraud on the APR and the impact on “reset” payments have on the life of the loan, which in turn obviously effects the APR. I underestimated the computations required to do both the standard TILA Audit and the extended version which I think is the only thing of value. The standard TILA audit simply doesn’t tell the story although there is some meat in there by which a borrower could recover some money. There is also the standard issue of steering the borrower into a more expensive loan than that which he qualified for.

The other thing I am wrestling with is the computational structure of the HAMP presentation so that we can show that we are using reasonable figures and producing a reasonable offer. This needs to be credible so that when the rejection comes, the borrower is able to say that the offer was NOT considered by the banks and servicers because of the obvious asymmetry of results — the “investor” getting a lot less money from the proceeds of foreclosure.

And THAT in turn results in the ability of the homeowner to demand proof (a) that they considered it (b) that it was communicated to the investor (with copies) and (c) that there was a reasonable basis for rejection — meaning that the servicer must SHOW the analysis that was used to determine whether to accept or reject the HAMP proposal. Limited anecdotal evidence shows that like that point in discovery when the other side has “lost” in procedural attempts to block the borrower, the settlement is achieved within hours of the entry of the order.

So I have approached the analysis from the standpoint of another way to force disclosure and discovery as to exactly what money the investor actually lost, whether the investor still exists and whether there were payments received by agents of the creditor (participants in the securitization chain) that were perhaps never credited to the account of the bond holder and therefore which never reduced the amount due to the creditor from the homeowner. My goal here is to get to the point where we can say, based upon admissions of the banks and servicers that there is either nobody who qualifies as a creditor to submit a “credit bid” at auction or that such a party might exist but is different than the party who was permitted to initiate the foreclosure proceedings.

The complexity of all this was vastly underestimated and I overestimated the ability of outside analysts to absorb what I was talking about, take the ball and run with it. Frankly I am wondering if the analysis should be worked up by the people who do our securitization work, whose ability to pierce through the numerous veils has established a proven track record. In the meantime, I will plug along until I am satisfied that I have it right, since I am actually signing off on the analysis, and thus be able to confidently defend the positions taken on the analytical report (Excel Spreadsheet) etc.

People Have Answers, Will Anyone Listen?

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Editor’s Comment: 

Thanks to Home Preservation Network for alerting us to John Griffith’s Statement before the Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives.  See his statement below.  

People who know the systemic flaws caused by Wall Street are getting closer to the microphone. The Banks are hoping it is too late — but I don’t think we are even close to the point where the blame shifts solidly to their illegal activities. The testimony is clear, well-balanced, and based on facts. 

On the high costs of foreclosure John Griffith proves the point that there is an “invisible hand” pushing homes into foreclosure when they should be settled modified under HAMP. There can be no doubt nor any need for interpretation — even the smiliest analysis shows that investors would be better off accepting modification proposals to a huge degree. Yet most people, especially those that fail to add tacit procuration language in their proposal and who fail to include an economic analysis, submit proposals that provide proceeds to investors that are at least 50% higher than the projected return from foreclosure. And that is the most liberal estimate. Think about all those tens of thousands of homes being bull-dozed. What return did the investor get on those?

That is why we now include a HAMP analysis in support of proposals as part of our forensic analysis. We were given the idea by Martin Andelman (Mandelman Matters). When we performed the analysis the results were startling and clearly showed, as some judges around the country have pointed out, that the HAMP loan modification proposals were NOT considered. In those cases where the burden if proof was placed on the pretender lender, it was clear that they never had any intention other than foreclosure. Upon findings like that, the cases settled just like every case where the pretender loses the battle on discovery.

Despite clear predictions of increased strategic defaults based upon data that shows that strategic defaults are increasing at an exponential level, the Bank narrative is that if they let homeowners modify mortgages, it will hurt the Market and encourage more deadbeats to do the same. The risk of strategic defaults comes not from people delinquent in their payments but from businesspeople who look at the principal due, see no hope that the value of the home will rise substantially for decades, and see that the home is worth less than half the mortgage claimed. No reasonable business person would maintain the status quo. 

The case for principal reductions (corrections) is made clear by the one simple fact that the homes are not worth and never were worth the value of the used in true loans. The failure of the financial industry to perform simple, long-standing underwriting duties — like verifying the value of the collateral created a risk for the “lenders” (whoever they are) that did not exist and was present without any input from the borrower who was relying on the same appraisals that the Banks intentionally cooked up so they could move the money and earn their fees.

Many people are suggesting paths forward. Those that are serious and not just positioning in an election year, recognize that the station becomes more muddled each day, the false foreclosures on fatally defective documents must stop, but that the buying and selling and refinancing of properties presents still more problems and risks. In the end the solution must hold the perpetrators to account and deliver relief to homeowners who have an opportunity to maintain possession and ownership of their homes and who may have the right to recapture fraudulently foreclosed homes with illegal evictions. The homes have been stolen. It is time to catch the thief, return the purse and seize the property of the thief to recapture ill-gotten gains.

Statement of John Griffith Policy Analyst Center for American Progress Action Fund

Before

The Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing On

Turning the Tide: Preventing More Foreclosures and Holding Wrong-Doers Accountable

Good afternoon Co-Chairman Grijalva, Co-Chairman Ellison, and members of the caucus. I am John Griffith, an Economic Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where my work focuses on housing policy.

It is an honor to be here today to discuss ways to soften the blow of the ongoing foreclosure crisis. It’s clear that lenders, investors, and policymakers—particularly the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—must do all they can to avoid another wave of costly and economy-crushing foreclosures. Today I will discuss why principal reduction—lowering the amount the borrower actually owes on a loan in exchange for a higher likelihood of repayment—is a critical tool in that effort.

Specifically, I will discuss the following:

1      First, the high cost of foreclosure. Foreclosure is typically the worst outcome for every party involved, since it results in extraordinarily high costs to borrowers, lenders, and investors, not to mention the carry-on effects for the surrounding community.

2      Second, the economic case for principal reduction. Research shows that equity is an important predictor of default. Since principal reduction is the only way to permanently improve a struggling borrower’s equity position, it is often the most effective way to help a deeply underwater borrower avoid foreclosure.

3      Third, the business case for Fannie and Freddie to embrace principal reduction. By refusing to offer write-downs on the loans they own or guarantee, Fannie, Freddie, and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, are significantly lagging behind the private sector. And FHFA’s own analysis shows that it can be a money-saver: Principal reductions would save the enterprises about $10 billion compared to doing nothing, and $1.7 billion compared to alternative foreclosure mitigation tools, according to data released earlier this month.

4      Fourth, a possible path forward. In a recent report my former colleague Jordan Eizenga and I propose a principal-reduction pilot at Fannie and Freddie that focuses on deeply underwater borrowers facing long-term economic hardships. The pilot would include special rules to maximize returns to Fannie, Freddie, and the taxpayers supporting them without creating skewed incentives for borrowers.

Fifth, a bit of perspective. To adequately meet the challenge before us, any principal-reduction initiative must be part of a multipronged

To read John Griffith’s entire testimony go to: http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2012/04/pdf/griffith_testimony.pdf


How Wall Street Perverted the 4 Cs of Mortgage Underwriting

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Editor’s Comment: 

For thousands of years since the dawn of money credit has been an integral part of the equation.  Anytime a person, company or institution takes your money or valuables in exchange for a promise that it will return your money or property or pay it to someone else (like in a check) credit is involved.  Most bank customers do not realize that they are creditors of the bank in which they deposit their money.  But all of them recognize that on some level they need to know or believe that the bank will be able to make good on its promise to honor the check or pay the money as instructed. 

Most people who use banks to hold their money do so in the belief that the bank has a history of being financially stable and always honoring withdrawals.  Some depositors may look a little further to see what the balance sheet of the bank looks like.   Of course the first thing they look at is the amount of cash shown on the balance sheet so that a perspective depositor can make an intelligent decision about the liquidity or availability of the funds they deposit. 

So the depositor is in essence lending money to the bank upon the assumption of repayment based upon the operating history of the bank, the cash in the bank and any other collateral (like FDIC guarantees).

As it turns out these are the 4 Cs of loan underwriting which has been followed since the first person was given money to hold and issued a paper certificate in exchange. The paper certificate was intended to be used as either a negotiable instrument for payment in a far away land or for withdrawal when directly presented to the person who took the money and issued the promise on paper to return it.

Eventually some people developed good reputations for safe keeping the money.  Those that developed good reputations were allowed by the depositors to keep the money for longer and longer periods.  After a while, the persons holding the money (now called banks) realized that in addition to charging a fee to the depositor they could use the depositor’s money to lend out to other people.  The good banks correctly calculated the probable amount of time for the original depositor to ask for his money back and adjusted loan terms to third parties that would be due before the depositor demanded his money.

The banks adopted the exact same strategy as the depositors.  The 4 Cs of underwriting a loan—Capacity, Credit, Cash and Collateral—are the keystones of conventional loan underwriting. 

The capacity of a borrower is determined by their ability to repay the debt without reference to any other source or collateral.  For the most part, banks successfully followed this model until the late 1990s when they discovered that losing money could be more profitable than making money.  In order to lose money they obviously had to invert the ratios they used to determine the capacity of the borrower to repay the money.  To accomplish this, they needed to trick or deceive the borrower into believing that he was getting a loan that he could repay, when in fact the bank knew that he could not repay it.  To create maximum confusion for borrowers the number of home loan products grew from a total of 5 different types of loans in 1974 to a total of 456 types of loans in 2006.  Thus the bank was assured that a loss could be claimed on the loan and that the borrower would be too confused to understand how the loss had occurred.  As it turned out the regulators had the same problem as the borrowers and completely missed the obscure way in which the banks sought to declare losses on residential loans.

Like the depositor who is trusting the bank based upon its operating history, the bank normally places its trust in the borrower to repay the loan based upon the borrowers operating history which is commonly referred to as their credit worthiness, credit score or credit history.  Like the capacity of the borrower this model was used effectively until the late 1990s when it too was inverted.  The banks discovered that a higher risk of non-payment was directly related to the “reasonableness” of charging a much higher interest rate than prevailing rates.  This created profits, fees and premiums of previously unimaginable proportions.  The bank’s depositors were expecting a very low rate of interest in exchange for what appeared as a very low risk of nonpayment from the bank.  By lending the depositor’s money to high risk borrowers whose interest rate was often expressed in multiples of the rate paid to depositors, the banks realized they could loan much less in principal than the amount given to them by the depositor leaving an enormous profit for the bank.  The only way the bank could lose money under this scenario would be if the loan was actually repaid.  Since some loans would be repaid, the banks instituted a power in the master servicer to declare a pool of loans to be in default even if many of the individual loans were not in default.  This declaration of default was passed along to investors (depositors) and borrowers alike where eventually both would in many, if not most cases, perceive the investment as a total loss without any knowledge that the banks had succeeded in grabbing “profits” that were illegal and improper regardless if one referred to common law or statutory law.

Capacity and credit are usually intertwined with the actual or stated income of the borrower.  Most borrowers and unfortunately most attorneys are under the mistaken belief that an inflated income shown on the application for the loan, subjects the borrower to potential liability for fraud.  In fact, the reverse is true.  Because of the complexity of real estate transactions, a history of common law dating back hundreds of years together with modern statutory law, requires the lender to perform due diligence in verifying the ability of the borrower to repay the loan and in assessing the viability of the loan.  Some loans had a teaser rate of a few hundred dollars per month.  The bank had full knowledge that the amount of the monthly payment would change to an amount exceeding the gross income of the borrower.   In actuality the loan had a lifespan that could only be computed by reference to the date of closing and the date that payments reset.  The illusion of a 30-year loan along with empty promises of refinancing in a market that would always increase in value, led borrowers to accept prices that were at times a multiple of the value of the property or the value of the loan.  Banks have at their fingertips numerous websites in which they can confirm the likelihood of a perspective borrower to repay the loan simply by knowing the borrower’s occupation and geographical location.  Instead, they allowed mortgage brokers to insert absurd income amounts in occupations which never generate those levels of income.  In fact, we have seen acceptance and funding of loans based upon projected income from investments that had not yet occurred where the perspective investment was part of a scam in which the mortgage broker was intimately involved.  See Merendon Mining scandal.

The Cash component of the 4 Cs.  Either you have cash or you don’t have cash.  If you don’t have cash, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would consider a substantial loan much less a deposit into a bank that was obviously about to go out of business.   This rule again was followed for centuries until the 1990s when the banks replaced the requirement of cash from the borrower with a second loan or even a third loan in order to “seal the deal”.  In short, the cash requirement was similarily inverted from past practices.  The parties involved at the closing table were all strawmen performing fees for service.  The borrower believed that a loan underwriting was taking place wherein a party was named on the note as the lender and also named in the security instrument as the secured party. The borrower believed that the closing could never have occurred but for the finding by the “underwriting lender” that the loan was proper and viable.  The people at the closing table other than the borrower, all knew that the loan was neither proper nor viable.  In many cases the borrower had just enough cash to move into a new house and perhaps purchase some window treatments.  Since the same credit game was being played at furniture stores and on credit cards, more money was given to the borrower to create fictitious transactions in which furniture, appliances, and home improvements were made at the encouragement of retailers and loan brokers.  Hence the cash requirement was also inverted from a positive to a negative with full knowledge by the alleged bank who didn’t bother to pass this knowledge on to its “depositors” (actually, investors in bogus mortgage bonds). 

Collateral is the last of the 4 Cs in conventional loan underwriting.  Collateral is used in the event that the party responsible for repayment fails to make the repayment and is unable to cure it or work out the difference with the bank.  In the case of depositors, the collateral is often viewed as the full faith and credit of the United States government as expressed by the bank’s membership in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  For borrowers collateral refers to property which they pledge can be used or sold to satisfy obligation to repay the loan.  Normally banks send one or even two or three appraisers to visit real estate which is intended to be used as collateral.  The standard practice lenders used was to apply the lower appraisals as the basis for the maximum amount that they would lend.  The banks understood that the higher appraisals represented a higher risk that they would lose money in the event that the borrower failed to repay the loan and property values declined.  This principal was also used for hundreds of years until the 1990s when the banks, operating under the new business model described above, started to run out of people who could serve as borrowers.  Since the deposits (purchases of mortgage bonds) were pouring in, the banks either had to return the deposits or use a portion of the deposits to fund mortgages regardless of the quality of the mortgage, the cash, the collateral, the capacity or any other indicator that a normal reasonable business person would use.  The solution was to inflate the appraisals of the real estate by presenting appraisers with “an offer they couldn’t refuse”.  Either the appraiser came in with an appraisal of the real property at least $20,000 above the price being used in the contract or the appraiser would never work again.  By inflating the appraisals the banks were able to move more money and of course “earn” more fees and profits. 

The appraisals were the weakest link in the false scheme of securitization launched by the banks and still barely understood by regulators.  As the number of potential borrowers dwindled and even with the help of developers raising their prices by as much as 20% per month the appearance of a rising market collapsed in the absence of any more buyers.

Since all the banks involved were holding an Ace High Straight Flush, they were able to place bets using insurance, credit default swaps and other credit enhancements wherein a movement of as little as 8% in the value of a pool would result in the collapse of the entire pool.  This created the appearance of losses to the banks which they falsely presented to the U.S. government as a threat to the financial system and the financial security of the United States.  Having succeeded in terrorizing the executive and legislative branches and the Federal Reserve system, the banks realized that they still had a new revenue generator.  By manufacturing additional losses the government or the Federal Reserve would fund those losses under the mistaken belief that the losses were real and that the country’s future was at stake.  In fact, the country’s future is now at stake because of the perversion of the basic rules of commerce and lending stated above.  The assumption that the economy or the housing market can recover without undoing the fraud perpetrated by the banks is dangerous and false.  It is dangerous because more than 17 trillion dollars in “relief” to the banks has been provided to cover mortgage defaults which are at most estimated at 2.6 trillion.  The advantage given to the megabanks who accepted this surplus “aid” has made it difficult for community banks and credit unions to operate or compete.   The assumption is false because there is literally not enough money in the world to accomplish the dual objectives of allowing the banks to keep their ill gotten gains and providing the necessary stimulus and rebuilding of our physical and educational infrastructure.  

The simple solution that is growing more and more complex is the only way that the U.S. can recover.  With the same effort that it took in 1941 to convert an isolationist largely unarmed United States to the most formidable military power on the planet, the banks who perpetrated this fraud should be treated as terrorists with nothing less than unconditional surrender as the outcome.  The remaining 7,000 community banks and credit unions together with the existing infrastructure for electronic funds transfer will easily allow the rest of the banking community to resume normal activity and provide the capital needed for a starving economy. 

See article:  www.kcmblog.com/2012/04/05/the-4-cs-of-mortgage-underwriting-2

LPS: So We Fabricated and Forged Documents… So what? Here’s what!!

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, STUPID!

Editor’s Analysis: This is the moment I have been waiting for. After years of saying the documents were real, they admit, in the face of a mountain of irrefutable evidence, that the documents were not real, but that as a convenience they should still be allowed to use them. Besides the obvious criminality and slander of tile and all sorts of other things that are attendant to these practices, there is a certain internal logic to their assertion and you should not dismiss it without thinking about it. Otherwise you will be left with your jaw hanging open wondering how an admitted criminal gets to keep the spoils of illegal activities.

I have been pounding on this subject for weeks because I could see in the motions being filed by banks and servicers that they had changed course and were now pursuing a new strategy that plays on the simple logic that you took a loan, you signed a note, you didn’t make the payments as stated in the note — everything else is window dressing and for the various parties in securitization to sort amongst themselves.

All foreclosure actions are actually, when they boil them down, just collection actions. It is about money owed. So far, the arguments that have worked have been those occasions where the conduct of the Bank has been so egregious that the Judge wasn’t going to let them have the money or the house even if they stood on their heads.

But to coordinate an attack on these foreclosures, you need to defeat the presumption that the collection effort is simple, that the homeowner didn’t pay a debt that was due, and that the arguments concerning the forged, fabricated, fraudulent documents are paperwork issues that can be taken up with law enforcement or civil suits between the various undefined participants in the non-existent securitization chain.

Now we have LPS admitting false assignments. The question that must be both asked and answered by you because you have enough data and expert opinions to raise the material fact that there was a reason why the false paperwork was fabricated and forged and it wasn’t because of volume. Start with the fact that they didn’t have any problem getting the paperwork signed they wanted in the more than 100 million mortgage transactions “closed” during this mortgage meltdown period. Volume doesn’t explain it.

Your first assertion should be payment and waiver because the creditor who loaned the money got paid and waived any remainder. You use the Securitization and title report from a credible expert who can back up what you are saying. That gets you past the motions to dismiss and into discovery, where these cases are won.

Your assertion should be that the paperwork was fabricated because there was no transaction to support the contents of any of the assignments. And from that you launch the basic attack on the loan closing itself. First, following the above line of reasoning, they used the same tactics to create false paperwork at closing that identified neither the lender (contrary to the requirements of TILA and state lending statutes), nor ALL of the terms of the transaction, as contained in the prospectus and PSA given to investors.

But let us be clear. There are only two ways you can get out of a debt: (1) payment and (2) waiver. There isn’t any other way so stop imagining that some forgery in the documents is going to give you the house. It won’t. But if you can show payment or waiver or both, then you have a material issue of fact that completely or at least partially depletes the presumption of the Judge that you simply don’t want to pay a legitimate debt from a loan you now regret.

Why are the terms of the securitization documentation important?

  1. Because it was the investor who came up with the money and it was the borrower who took it. The money transaction was between the investors and the homeowners, with everyone else an intermediary or conduit.
  2. It is ONLY the securitization documents that provide power or authority for the servicer or trustee to act as servicer or trustee of the mortgage backed security pool.
  3. If the deal was between the investor who put up the money and the homeowner who took it, where are the documents between the investor and the homeowner? They can only exist if we connect the closing documents with the homeowner with the closing documents with the investor. 
  4. But if the transfer or assignment documents were defective, faulty, forged and fabricated, as well as fraudulent attempts to transfer bad loans into pools that investors said they would only accept good loans, then the there is nothing in the REMIC, there is no trust, there is no trustee of the pool and the servicer has authority to service nothing. 
  5. That breaks the connection between the so-called closing documents with the homeowner and the so-called closing documents with the investor. No connection means no nexus. No nexus means the investors have a claim arising from the fact that they loaned money but they don’t get the benefit of a secured loan and they especially don’t get anything unless THEY make the claim.
  6. If the investors choose not to make the claim for collection or foreclosure, there is nothing anywhere in any law that allows an interloper to insert himself into the process and say that if the investor doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.
  7. Your position should address the reality: appraisal fraud, deceptive lending practices, violations of TILA all contributed to the acceptance of a faulty loan product. But that isn’t why your client doesn’t owe the money. Your client does owe the money, but it has been paid to the creditor and the balance has been waived in the insurance and credit default swap contracts as well as the the Federal bailouts.
  8. The source of funding has been paid in whole or in part, they received the monthly payments even while they declared a default against your client homeowner, and they waived any right to pursue the rest from homeowners because they wish to avoid the exposure to defenses and affirmative defenses that the homeowner will  bring in the mortgage origination process.
  9. The failure to identify the true creditor contrary to the requirements of law and the failure to describe in the note and mortgage the full terms of the loans creates a fatal defect when applied to THIS case on its facts, which you will be able to prove if you are allowed to proceed in discovery.
  10. Allowing interlopers into the process to pretend as though they were the mortgage lenders or successors leaves the homeowner with nobody to sue for offset, and no defenses to raise against a party who had nothing to do with either the investor or the homeowner in the closing with the investor wherein mortgage bonds were purchased, and the closing with the homeowner in which a portion of the funds collected were used to fund a loan to the homeowner.

LPS Uses Bogus Florida IG Report on Firing of Foreclosure Fraud Investigators in Motion to Dismiss Nevada Lawsuit

By: David Dayen http://news.firedoglake.com/2012/01/31/lps-uses-bogus-florida-ig-report-on-firing-of-foreclosure-fraud-investigators-in-motion-to-dismiss-nevada-lawsuit/

We’re at T-minus four days for sign-ons to the foreclosure fraud settlement, and we know that Florida’s Pam Bondi is on board, despite pushback from advocates in her state, ground zero for the foreclosure crisis. There’s an interesting nugget buried in this article, though.

Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said in an email that their concerns are “misguided” because the settlement would provide a historic level of monetary relief and will overhaul the mortgage industry.

“Rather than engaging in political grandstanding, Attorney General Bondi is working hard to reach an agreement that gets Floridians substantial relief now and holds banks accountable for their misconduct,” Meale wrote.

The settlement is expected to provide $1,800 each for about 750,000 families across the country. It is a response to such practices as “robo-signing” by bank employees who often knew little or nothing about the mortgage documents they were hired to sign.

Nevada, New York, Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts contend the deal isn’t strong enough because it would protect banks from future civil liability.

It will not, though, fully release them from future state criminal lawsuits.

Put aside Bondi’s dissembling for a second, and the idea that an $1,800 for the theft of your home represents “historic” relief. This lawyer in Utah called it what it is: “An arbitrary system of modifications administered by the same banks that knowingly perpetrated the fraud on the homeowner in the first place, and allowed to get off by paying $1800 for an illegal foreclosed home. That’s outrageous.”

But New Hampshire? That’s a new one. I know that Attorney General Michael Delaney has done some preliminary investigations of foreclosure practices in his state, and I know he was present at that meeting of 15 AGs looking for an alternative to the settlement. But Delaney has been pretty quiet overall. Since when is he listed among the holdouts?

That could just be bad information. And to be clear, liability isn’t the central issue anymore. But I don’t know how states like Massachusetts and Nevada, with active legislation against banks and document processors over the same conduct that would be released here, could possibly sign on to this deal.

There’s some news on that front. Lender Processing Services, which has been sued by Nevada for deceptive practices in generating false documents, sought to dismiss the complaint today in a filing with a state court.

The complaint by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto fails to allege any document executed by subsidiaries was incorrect or caused any borrower financial harm, Lender Processing Services said in a statement today.

The state’s claims “are a collection of suppositions, legal conclusions and inflammatory labels,” the company said in the court filing. The document couldn’t be immediately verified in court records [...]

Nevada sued the company in December, claiming that it engaged in a pattern of “falsifying, forging and/or fraudulently executing” foreclosure documents, requiring employees to execute or notarize as many as 4,000 foreclosure- related documents a day, according to a statement from the attorney general. Lender Processing Services also demanded kickbacks from foreclosure firms, the office said.

Two interesting things here. First, LPS leans hard on the idea that borrowers weren’t harmed by the use of false documents. The implication here is that the borrower was delinquent anyway, so there’s no abuse going on. But the more important part of the motion to dismiss (copy at the link) comes when LPS makes the claim that robo-signing isn’t really a crime. It’s merely “signing of documents by an authorized agent,” says LPS, and that is permitted under Nevada law. Here’s one way they justify that (DocX is a subsidiary of LPS):

The State of Florida has reached an identical conclusion regarding DocX’s surrogate signed documents. Two assistant attorneys general involved in that state’s investigation of the mortgage crisis, including DocX, prepared an information power point presentation in which surrogate signing was characterized as “forgery.” The two attorneys were subsequently terminated for alleged fraud, deficient and improper investigatory practices which triggered a formal review by the Inspector General of Florida. In a recently issued official report, the propriety of the termination of the attorneys was confirmed, and specifically, the power point characterization of surrogate signing as “forgery” was determined to be unsupported by the legal definition of forgery.

Wow. So LPS used the whitewash IG report from Florida to justify the dismissal of their lawsuit in Nevada. And remember, LPS lobbyists more recently urged the Florida AG’s office to intervene on their behalf in a criminal case in Michigan. The connections between the Florida AG’s office and LPS just continue to grow.

This also happens to be BS. Pam Bondi made a recent motion in a Florida appeals court, as part of a case against the foreclosure mill David J. Stern, which stated, among other things, this:

The Attorney General’s motion asks the Fourth DCA to certify that its decision in Stern passes upon the following question of great public importance: whether the creation of invalid assignments of mortgages by a law firm and subsequent use of such documents by the firm in foreclosure litigation on behalf of the purported assignee is an unfair and deceptive trade practice which may be the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.

This is a tacit acknowledgement of illegal assignments, which is functionally the opposite of what the IG report said. So of course LPS uses the latter in their Nevada case.

It’s completely insidious. And if the foreclosure fraud settlement goes through, LPS will surely point to that as another reason why they should be held harmless for their illegal conduct.

Deutsch Bank Inquiry Reveals Insider Influence by Paulson

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Editor’s Comment: At the end of the day, everyone knows everything. The billions that Paulson made are directly attributable to his ability to instruct Deutsch and others as to what should be put into the Credit Default Swaps and other hedge products that comprised his portfolio. He did this because they let him — and then he traded on what he not only knew, he was trading on what he had done — all to the detriment of the investors who had purchased mortgage bonds and other exotic instruments.
The singular question that comes out of all this is what happened to the money? Judges are fond of saying that there was a loan, it wasn’t paid and the borrower is the one who didn’t pay it. Everything else is just window dressing that can be addressed through lawsuits amongst the securitization participants so why should a lowly Judge sitting in on a foreclosure case mess with any of that?
The reason is that the debt, contrary to the Judges assumption (with considerable encouragement from the banks and servicers) was never owed to the originator or the intermediaries who were conduits in the funding of the loan. The debt was owed to the investor-lender. And those who are attempting to foreclose are illegally inserting themselves into mortgage documentation in which they have no interest directly or indirectly.
If they are owed money, which many of them are not because they waived the right of recovery from the homeowner, it is through an action for restitution or unjust enrichment, not mortgage foreclosure. Banks and servicers are intentionally blurring the distinction between the actual creditor-lender and those other parties who were co-obligees on the mortgage bond in order to get the benefit of of foreclosure on a loan they did not fund or purchase.
So how does that figure in to what happened here. Paulson an outside to the transaction with investors and an outside to the investors in the bogus loan products sold to homeowners, arranges a bet that the mortgages were fail. He is essentially selling the loans short with delivery later after they fail and are worth pennies. But the Swap doesn’t require delivery, so he just gets the money. The fees he paid for the SWAP are buried into the income statement of Deutsch in this case. So it looks like a transaction like a horse-race where you place a bet — win or lose you don’t get the horse and you don’t have to feed him either.
But in order for this transaction to occur, the money received by Deutsch and the money paid to Paulson must be the subject of a detailed accounting. Without a COMBO Title and Securitization search and Loan Level Accounting, you won’t see the whole picture — you only see the picture that the servicer presents in foreclosure which is snapshot of only the borrower payments, not the payments and receipts relating to the mortgage loan, which as we all know were never owned by Deutsch or anyone else because the transfer papers were never executed, delivered or recorded without fabrication and forgery.
Paulson is an extreme case where claw-back of that money will be fought tooth and nail. But that money was ill-gotten gains arranged by Paulson based upon insider information, that directly injured the investor-lenders who were still buying this stuff and directly injured the borrowers who were never credited with the money that either was received by the investor creditors, or should have been received or credited tot hem because the money was received on their behalf.
Once you factor in the third party obligee payments as set forth in the PSA and Prospectus, you will find that we have a choice: either the banks get to keep the money they stole from investors and borrowers, or the money must be returned. If it must be returned, then a portion of that should go to reducing the debt, as per the requirements of the note, for payment received by the creditor, whether or not it was paid by the borrower.
BOTTOM LINE: Securitization never happened. And the money that was passed around like a whiskey bottle (see Mike Stuckey’s article in 2009) has never been subject to an accounting. Your job, counselor, is not to prove that all this true, but to prove that you have a reasonable belief that the debt has been paid in whole or in part to the creditor and that the default doesn’t exist. This creates the issue of fact that allows you to proceed the next stage of litigation, including discovery where most of these cases settle. They settle because the intermediaries who are bringing these actions are doing so without authority or even interest from the investor-creditors.
What is needed, is a direct path between investor creditors and homeowners debtors to settle up and compare notes. This is what the banks and servicers are terrified about. When the books are compared, everyone will know how much is missing, that the investors should be paid in full and that the therefore  the debt does not exist as set forth in the closing papers with the borrower. Watch this Blog for an announcement for a program that provides just such a path — where investors and borrowers can get together, compare notes, settle up, modify or mediate their claims, leaving the investors in MUCH better position and a content homeowner who no longer needs to fear that his world, already turned upside down, will get worse.
It may still be that the homeowner borrower has on obligation, but it isn’t to the creditor that loaned the money that funded the mortgage loan. Any such debt is with a third party obligee whose cause of action has been intentionally blurred so that the pretenders can pretend that they have rights under a mortgage or deed of trust in which they have no interest on a deal where they was no transfer or sale.

SEC looks into Deutsche Bank CDO shorted by Paulson

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Deutsche Bank is facing an SEC investigation for its role in structuring a synthetic CDO, according to a report by Der Spiegel. The German publication states that the bank’s actions in raising a CDO under its Start programme will come under question after it allegedly allowed hedge fund Paulson to select assets to go into the fund. The bank is then said to have neglected to have told investors about Paulson’s role in the transaction as well as concealing the fact that the hedge fund had taken a short position on the assets, allowing it to profit as the deal collapsed.
According to the article, Goldman Sachs settled a similar case with the SEC for $500 million regarding Goldman’s role in arranging an Abacus CDO.

 

Reuters: Ex-Credit Suisse Manager Pleads Guilty in Subprime Bond Probe

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Editor’s Comment: So SOMEONE is going to jail for up to five years. But the meat of this lies between the lines.
First, it was a conspiracy charge. You can’t run a PONZI scheme the size of the Madoff scheme without channels that are sending “marks” to you to “invest.” The securitization scam is several hundred times the size of the Madoff scam, and that means there were literally thousands of traders and managers who knew that they were acting improperly — illegally, that is.
Second, Higgs told a Federal Judge that his criminal behavior consisted of manipulation and inflation of the cash bond position markings in his tradings book (called ABNI), in order to hide the losses. Most people will never know what that means. It simply means that the trades were kept out of the system where losses would be easily apparent.
There are numerous reports that the book was kept literally in pencil on paper, so they could change the contents or destroy the book if that became necessary. This is why tracking the the actual money trail becomes challenging but it can be done through what one of our senior analysts calls “reverse engineering. IN other words, take the money going into the system and see where it went or where the trail ends. This will give you sufficient clues to determine whether payments in part or in whole were made to REMICS upon whose behalf foreclosures are being filed. In most cases, the figures are wrong, the debt to the investor has been paid in whole or in part, and there is no default. That is why we do the loan level accounting for those readers who are willing to fight about it.
Sadly, this guy seems like the fall guy for what was ordered by his managers. HIs statement that he fooled Credit Suisse management rings hollow when you compare the facts and the the history of the business. It simply isn’t possible for these events to occur without senior management knowing what was going on. Their mantra is plausible deniability. Soon you will see other people, like Higgs, who “flip” and testify against the large Banks upon which they depended for employment at rates of compensation that were too high — unless you factor in the hush money.

Ex-Credit Suisse manager pleads guilty in subprime probe

NEW YORK |

(Reuters) – A former London-based Credit Suisse trader pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge on Wednesday, and he is cooperating with a U.S. government investigation on writedowns of subprime mortgage derivatives at the height of the financial crisis.

David Higgs told a federal judge in New York that while he was a managing director in the investment banking division of Credit Suisse in 2007 and 2008, he and others manipulated and inflated the cash bond position markings of a trading book, called ABNI, in order to hide losses.

“As a result of my actions, senior management of Credit Suisse was given the false impression that the ABNI book was profitable and caused Credit Suisse to report false year-end numbers for 2007 in their books and records,” Higgs said in court. “I did this because I wanted to remain in good favor with my boss, Kareem Seregeldin, and enhance my job performance.”

Higgs said Seregeldin and others he did not identify had known about the manipulation and assisted in it.

Higgs faces a maximum possible prison sentence of up to 5 years on the charge of conspiracy to commit falsification of books and records and to commit wire fraud. He was released on a $500,000 bond and will be allowed to return to his home in Britain while the investigation continues.

(Reporting By Grant McCool; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 

Nevada AG Asks Pointed Questions to DOJ and HUD

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See Full Letter from Masto to DOJ and HUD Here 1-27-12

Hawaii did it, Nevada did it and now other states are doing it. Seeing the devastating effect on the state economy and the ensuing effects on the nation’s economy and the world finance, State Attorney generals are taking matters into their own hands, and pressing the points that hurt. The Banks don’t like it because it undermined their narrative. This year, 2012, is the year when most of the truth will come out and it will blow your mind to find out just how pernicious and pervasive this false, faked, securitization has been.

The number of foreclosures has plummeted in those states that have put up a fight. Why? Not because they were banned but because those states that require proof of authority to foreclose, proof of the accounting and the proof of settlement or the ability to mediate, have all but eliminated foreclosures. Now the question is how do we correct the corruption of the the title registries, get people restored to their homes and force the pretenders to compensate victims of fraud, forgery, and outright theft.

Catherine Cortez Masto has mastered the basics of securitization and she, like Beau Biden in Delaware, Schneiderman in New York, Coakley in Maine and others don’t like what they see — corroboration of some of the worst nightmares of conspiracy theorists.

It won’t be long before the investigations get traction and start picking up steam. Indictments will follow but not for a few months, at least.

You will hear words from these prosecutors that you never thought you would hear about the banks conduct, the transfer of wealth through theft, and the commission of crimes  too numerous to list here. As the momentum picks up, you will see thousands convicted, jailed, defrocked from their law license, notary license, appraisal license, title license and even the license to do business in the states where they thought they had a lock on the whole thing. People are wide awake right now and when Americans awaken, things happen fast.

Here are some of the more important questions and my comments that were posed in a recently released letter to Thomas J. Perrelli at the U.S. Department of Justice and Shaun Donovan as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It would be a good idea to take out those template discovery forms you have for clients and start your revisions. Stop assuming that anything the Banks said was true and start assuming the everything they said was false — including the losses they claimed to get the bailouts.

  1. What origination conduct did the federal agencies not release? [That's not my question, it is Masto's question. This is a direct frontal assault on the complicity of the Federal government in the mortgage mess. Inherently it addresses the issue of whether the origination process violated law, rules or regulations and whether there is a valid lien on most properties that were financed with investor money.]
  2. The State release refers to “…brother and sister corporations…” Please provide some clarity as to this particular phrase as used in the state release. [Masto is not going to be papered over by vague wording that could mean anything. She wants to know what went on. Where did the money go, and who were the parties involved?]
  3. The State release contains a provision that prevents the State AG’s and banking regulators from seeking to invalidate past assignments or foreclosures. Does this prevent States from effectively challenging future foreclosure actions that are based upon faulty prior assignments? [Masto nails it on the head. First of all this is AMNESTY for the Banks who committed crimes and want the government to ratify the crime since the government was complicit in allowing, creating and promoting the crime. It does nothing to clear up the title problems that currently exist or that will exist if the faulty assignments contain not only forgeries but fabrications of the truth of the transactions inherently referred to within the instruments.]
  4. Paraphrasing Masto, when will the results of existing investigations be made public — or do you want us to take your word for it that there are or are not weapons of mass financial destruction still hidden in the pile?
  5. Paraphrasing Masto, how will we be able toe enforce the new servicing standards or are we taking the word of the Banks and servicers who lied to us consistently up until this point in time?
  6. Paraphrasing Masto, how and when will consumers get relief if they were victims of fraud, chicanery and theft?
  7. Under what circumstances will the Monitor be able to access servicers source documents, i.e., the documents that form the underlying basis for the work papers? [Of course Masto knows that she will never see the source documents because they would contradict everything the Banks and servicers have said up until this point, one of many reasons she will not participate in the multi-state settlement.]
  8. What kind of data will the monitor be able to demand regarding the allocation and performance of servicers’ modification/other consumer relief? What compliance or enforcement provisions address the Monitor’s and States’ ability to enforce the consumer relief provisions? Before the claim of securitization of mortgage debt that never in fact was completed, there were simple formulas to determine whether the workout was good or bad for the lender. Now the servicers are using excuses like “everyone will do it” if they accept modifications, even though the proposed modifications i results in proceeds that are much higher than the results of foreclosure. So the real question is whether the consideration of modifications requires (a) authority and (b) no discretion if the proposed modification exceeds x% of fair market value of the collateral. If accepted, this change would have eliminated 2/3 of all the past foreclosures and 90% of the future ones.
  9. Please explain the assumptions on which the settlement value chart relies. It describes a maximum expected benefit; what is the minimum expected benefit? Can we get a range of values for each state.? [And what data exists showing the true liability for false, fraudulent, fabricated loans and foreclosures to compare with the settlement?]
  10. Paraphrasing Masto, how do these detailed formulas actually work in real life? What will be the effect on blighted areas and how can we as AG’s determine what risk is associated with acceptance of an agreement in which the probability of millions more foreclosures will take place under false pretenses, only to become abandoned property?

 

Fannie and Freddie Preventing Modifications and Betting Against Modifications at the Same Time

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Freddie Mac, Deutsche Bank Caught Up In Securities Allegations

By: David Dayen See Full Article on FIredoglake.com

One reason why I don’t think we should particularly accept a six-month timeline on significant action from the RMBS working group is that there’s so much already in the public record. I recognize that criminal or civil enforcement actions take voluminous legal work and due diligence, but quite a bit of it has already been done. The FCIC referred criminal fraud violations a year ago. Gretchen Morgenson notes all the evidence from private litigation that can be leveraged and used. And Pro Publica, in conjunction with NPR, offers this up today, which is somewhat tangential to what Eric Schneiderman wants to delve into because it’s post-crash conduct, but which still shows the element we’re dealing with and how many revelations are already out there:

Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won’t be able to refinance their mortgages at today’s lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom [...]

In December, Freddie’s chief executive, Charles Haldeman, assured Congress his company is “helping financially strapped families reduce their mortgage costs through refinancing their mortgages.”

But public documents show that in 2010 and 2011, Freddie Mac set out to make gains for its own investment portfolio by using complex mortgage securities that brought in more money for Freddie Mac when homeowners in higher interest-rate loans were unable to qualify for a refinancing.

Those trades “put them squarely against the homeowner,” PIMCO’s Simon says.

Bascially, Freddie trapped its own borrowers, denying them refinances. And they stood to benefit from that, because the higher interest rates meant bigger streams of income from their MBS.

This may seem like a sidelight to the securitization bubble, but indeed, we’ve seen many instances of investment banks taking one side of a mortgage-backed securities bet, and selling investors the other side, without disclosure. That’s securities fraud. It’s been litigated. The SEC has been giving out settlements like candy for this kind of conduct. But it’s a central part of the unscrupulous behavior on Wall Street. You can see this today in the fact that the SEC is only now getting around to investigating CDOs from Deutsche Bank when Robert Khuzami, the current head of enforcement at the SEC and a co-chair of the RMBS working group, was working there as general counsel.

That brings up a whole other element about trusting the guys who swept this conduct under the rug to properly investigate it. But the larger point is that there’s a lot already on the table. In a sense, you may not need massive resources for this, because they can just pick up where others left off.

My reporting shows that Schneiderman actually has a few announcements on enforcement coming in the next few weeks. We don’t have to wait months. We can judge the seriousness of this thing pretty quickly.

 

Using UDCPA Fair Debt Collection Acts to get Money, Information and Fees

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RIPE AREA FOR STEADY INCOME FOR LAWYERS REPRESENTING HOMEOWNERS

Editor’s Comment: One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. You have both a private right of action against the debt collector and the right to apply to the FTC to set up administrative hearings, where these cases should probably be heard by experienced hearing officers who know what they are looking at.

The practice of playing the numbers on debt collection has been around for a long time. Whether the debt is real or not, there is a statute of limitations, bankruptcies and other obstacles to collection. A lot of times the debt is now owed at all, but byb pestering customers, the collection agency gets some money out of them, which they keep because they have already bought the portfolio at pennies or less on the dollar.

This is where servicers and other intermediaries in the fake securitization chain are going to get into hot water. The debt was created when the investor loaned the borrower the money. The intermediaries are by definition debt collectors under the UDCPA and they are, and have been banged for fines many times on individual cases.

This is an instance where the Obama administration is attacking the practice head-on and taking away their toys. So when the pretender lender comes knocking, it isn’t just a RESPA 6 (Qualified Written Request) that you send out, it is a UDCPA letter you send demanding to know both the identity and contact information for the creditor. As you can see from this article, failure to provide you with that information  plus the balance due and how it was computed, is a violation of that Federal Statute.

It might also be a shortcut way of identifying the pretender not as holder of the note but as agent for an undisclosed principal seeking to collect on a note that was defective in the first place because they did not identify the correct creditor (in violation of TILA) and it did not provide you with a proper accounting showing exactly what this “creditor” received that would reduce your loan balance.

The MAIN point here is that the servicer might well be the one sending you the notice of delinquency swhen they have performed zero due diligence as to the creditor’s accounting. Where the servicer itself or some other party is keeping the account current, as is often the case, the loan is neither delinquent nor susceptible to being declared in default — but they do it anyway.

Now that the FTC has declared war on debt collectors who perform illegally, and banged them with this fine, we can invoke the same administrative procedures and grievances with the FTC as to the collection efforts on mortgages where the “collector” is not the creditor and where the money demanded is not actually shown as due.

There is a presumption that if you didn’t make the payment as set forth in the note, then you must be delinquent and you must be declared (at some point) in default. But that is not true in most cases. There can only be a delinquency or default under the mortgage loan if the borrower has failed to make a payment or cure a payment that is actually due. If the payment has been made already, then no such payment is due, regardless of whether it came from the borrower or not.

This is why you need to know the four legs of the stool in order to object, sue, defend, and present genuine issues of fact before a trial court that will have no choice but to allow you to proceed to discovery. Discovery is where these cases settle because the pretenders know they didn’t fund the loan, they didn’t pay for the loan and the creditor has been paid in whole or in part, with a lower or zero balance remaining.

Just for reminders, the four legs of the stool are:

  1. The loan closing papers with the investors under which he agrees to advance funds into a pool in exchange for a note or bond from a REMIC (which is never properly constituted). Here the investors expects that the money advanced will be used for funding mortgages conforming with the standards set forth in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement. Note that there is no nexus or connection between the investor and the borrower because the borrower usually does not even exist at that point in time. If a nexus ever arises, it is when the loan is transferred into the pool, something which we all now know was never done until the loan went into litigation or foreclosure — obviously in violation of the cut-off date required by the IRS REMIC statute, and the concurrent cut-off date in the PSA. But more importantly is the money angle — the investors didn’t advance money for loans that were delinquent or in default. They invested their money for good quality performing loans. Thus there is no way that the loans could be transferred into the pools if they were already declared problematic, delinquent, or non-performing. The failure to provide a nexus between borrower and lender (investor) is fatal to the enforcement of the mortgage lien. The creditor has no interest in the loan and doesn’t want one. Any claim from third parties who also have no nexus with the borrower would be on causes of action that are separate or apart from the mortgage lien. (SEE COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION REPORT ABOVE)
  2. The loan closing papers with the borrower(s), which are subject to roughly the same analysis with identical result. There is no nexus between the borrower and the investor because neither one knows the other, despite requirements in the TILA and RESPA laws that require disclosure of parties and their compensation. (SEE FORENSIC ANALYSIS TILA+ REPORT on Livinglies-store.com) The note does not describe the actual monetary transaction between the investor lender and the borrower. Instead it inserts a straw-man as “lender” and a straw-man as “beneficiary”. This usually takes the form of a new animal in mortgage lending called an “originator” who is a paid fee service provider whose sole duty is to pretend to be the lender, even though they never funded the loan, never bought the loan and never had any interest in the debt, the note or the mortgage. This is deemed by many in the title industry as a corrupted document that breaks the chain of title if any action was taken on such a loan in foreclosure. 
  3. The actual money trail which varies from both the requirements set forth in the paperwork with the investor lender and the paperwork with the homeowner borrower. A full accounting would show that the parties in the middle without any interest in the loan, bought, sold, transferred and used those fabricated, forged documents to initiate foreclosure and eviction proceedings. Under the investor documentation, the pretenders are allowed to use a legal PONZI scheme in which the investors money is used to pay him his interest income, although it is not reported as such. The servicer also has the option of taking money from other revenue and pools and paying certain investors in complete  violation of the explicit requirements of any standard promissory note from a borrower requiring that payments be credited to the account of the borrower. Instead, they make the payment and do not credit the borrower or they receive the money and they pay neither the investors nor the give credit to the borrowers. (see Loan Level Accounting REPORT on Livinglies-store.com). The servicers and intermediaries and attempting, with some success to take over the position of the investor without an assignment from the investor, and enforce a mortgage to which they are not a party.
  4. The Fourth legal of the stool arises from the false representations made in court or foreclosure proceedings. These representations made by people who purport to be authorized to substitute trustees, or file notice of defaults, notice of sales, notice of evictions, or lawsuits for all of those in judicial states, turn out to be at variance with all three of the other legs of the stool — the investor paperwork, the borrower’s paperwork and the actual money trail. 

Using a service like Elite Litigation Management services or others to present the matrix, which we also offer at livinglies-store.com, dial 480-405-1688, and you can present a poster-size board that shows a number of the discrepancy between all four legs of the stool, thus giving rise to the question of fact necessary to get to the next step in litigation. remember, if you go in thinking you have a magic bullet that will end your case, you are dreaming of a better worked than the one we have.

F.T.C. Fines a Collector of Debt $2.5 Million

See Full Article on New York Times and Firedoglake.com
By

The Federal Trade Commission signaled on Monday that it would continue to crack down on debt collectors who harass consumers for money they may not even be legally obligated to pay.

In the second-largest penalty ever levied on a debt collector, the F.T.C. said that Asset Acceptance, one of the nation’s largest debt collection companies, had agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle charges that the company deceived consumers when trying to collect old debts.

The settlement is part of a broader effort to patrol the industry, agency officials said.

“Our attention to debt collection has increased over the past couple of years because the complaints have been on the rise,” said J. Reilly Dolan, assistant director for the F.T.C.’s division of financial practices.

Consumer complaints about debt collection companies consistently rank as the second-highest category among all complaints at the agency, behind identity theft. But in 2010, complaints jumped 17 percent to 140,036, which represented 11 percent of all complaints in the commission’s database, up from 119,540, or about 9 percent of complaints, in 2009.

Asset Acceptance, based in Warren, Mich., was charged with a variety of complaints, including failing to tell consumers that they could no longer be sued for failing to pay some debts because the debts were too old. The company’s collectors also failed to inform consumers that paying even a small portion of the amount owed would revive the debt — in other words, making a payment would extend the amount of time the collector could legally sue.

Debt collectors have only a certain number of years to sue consumers. The statute of limitations varies by state, but typically ranges from two to 15 years, Mr. Dolan said, beginning when a consumer fails to make a payment. But borrowers often do not realize that making a payment on the old debt may restart the clock.

Among other things, the complaint also contended that the company — which buys unpaid debts for pennies on the dollar from credit card companies, health clubs and telecommunications and utility providers and tries to collect them — reported inaccurate information about the consumers to the credit reporting agencies. It also said that Asset Acceptance failed to conduct a reasonable investigation when it was notified by one of the credit agencies that a debt was being disputed. Moreover, the complaint says that the company used illegal collection practices and that it continued to try to collect debts that consumers disputed even though the company failed to verify that the debt was valid.

The proposed settlement with Asset Acceptance requires the company to tell consumers whose debt may be too old to be collected that it will not sue. It also requires the company to investigate disputed debts and to ensure it has a reasonable basis for its claims before going after the consumer. It is also barred from placing debt on credit reports without notifying the consumer.

The penalty “is certainly a slap on the wrist and probably a little bit more, but it really depends on what the F.T.C. does to enforce this in the coming months and years,” said Robert Hobbs, deputy director at the National Consumer Law Center and author of “Fair Debt Collection” (National Consumer Law Center, 1987). But “it is a great step forward. It is not self-enforcing, and it has a mechanism for the F.T.C. to follow up.”

Still, while the settlement requires the company to take more responsibility for checking the statute of limitations before it contacts consumers, he said most states did not require debt collectors to do that. That means it is up to consumers to know the rules on the statute of limitations, which, he said, can be “an enormously complex legal question.”

In a statement, Asset Acceptance said that the settlement ended an F.T.C. investigation that began nearly six years ago, and that the company did not admit to any of the allegations. “We are pleased to have this matter behind us, and to have clarity on the F.T.C.’s policies and expectations of the debt collection industry,” said Rion Needs, president and chief executive of Asset Acceptance.

In March, another leading debt collection company, West Asset Management, agreed to pay $2.8 million, the largest civil penalty ever levied by the F.T.C., to settle charges that its collection techniques violated the law. The commission charged that West Asset’s collectors often called consumers multiple times a day, sometimes using rude and abusive language, about accounts that were not theirs. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the F.T.C. now share enforcement authority for debt collection companies, though the new bureau has a power that the F.T.C. did not: it can write new rules for debt collectors. But F.T.C. officials said that debt collection enforcement would remain a top priority.

 

Are the Prosecutions Real or Just PR for an Election Year?

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Private Litigants Still Doing the Heavy Lifting that Government Should be Doing

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By

PRESIDENT OBAMA told the nation last week that he was convening a task force to investigate the abusive practices in the mortgage industry that led to our economic woes. Both lending and the practice of bundling loans into securities will come under scrutiny, he said, adding: “This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

Some greeted this new task force — its unwieldy name is the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group — with skepticism. It is an election year, after all, and many might wonder if this is just a public-relations response to the outrage against the institutions and executives that almost wrecked the economy.

If this task force nailed some big names, and soon, it would help to allay deep suspicions that the authorities have given powerful people and institutions a pass during this awful episode.

Such bars typically last five years, but some are permanent. The S.E.C.’s settlement with Angelo Mozilo, 73, former head of Countrywide Financial, barred him from acting as a director or officer of a public company for the rest of his life.

Some cases on the list are still being litigated. Those that have been settled have generated $1.97 billion in penalties, disgorgement and other monetary relief, according to the S.E.C. Harmed investors have received $355 million of that.

Drilling into the details, though, indicates that little of this money was paid by individuals. The payments came from companies, or more precisely, their shareholders.

Talk about making the wrong people pay.

Only one of the cases seems to involve a clawback of executive compensation. It’s the 2009 case against three former top executives of New Century Financial, a quintessential Wild West lender. Together, the three paid $1.5 million when settling charges of making false and misleading statements about the company’s soundness as it imploded.

If this is justice, it’s certainly not rough. Brad Morrice, the company’s former chief executive, returned just $542,000 to regulators; he took home at least $2.9 million in incentive pay in the two years before New Century collapsed.

It seems obvious that until executives are forced to dig deep into their own pockets to pay penalties in these matters, they will be tempted to take as many risks as possible to generate fat paychecks. Then they will move on to the next opportunity.

The S.E.C. is clearly proud of its financial crisis cases. But comparing its tally with the mountainous evidence produced in private lawsuits shows how much more work there is to be done.

Consider the most recent complaint filed by the Assured Guaranty Corporation, an insurer of mortgage securities, against Bear Stearns, the defunct brokerage firm; EMC, Bear’s mortgage origination and servicing unit; and JPMorgan Chase, which bought Bear in March 2008.

Filed in November, the complaint shows what kinds of revealing material can be dug up by determined investigators.

The complaint contends that Bear Stearns knew it was stuffing its mortgage-backed securities with crummy loans. It cites an e-mail written by a former EMC analyst in the unit that dealt with these instruments. “I have been toying with the idea of writing a book about our experiences,” the analyst wrote. “Think of all of the crap that went on and how nobody outside of the company would believe us … the fact that data was constantly changing and we sold loans without the data being correct — wouldn’t investors who bought the MBS’s want to know that?”

Indeed they would.

Discovery in the case also identifies top executives who oversaw the mortgage machine that felled Bear Stearns. Thomas F. Marano, senior managing director and designated principal of the mortgage- and asset-backed securities department, was “well aware of the amount of risk that was being taken on in terms of acquiring assets and … the activities with respect to securitization,” the complaint said, citing a Bear Stearns executive’s deposition.

The complaint also contends that John Mongelluzzo, the Bear Stearns vice president for due diligence, misled investigators for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission when he described the extensive vetting the company did when it bundled mortgages.

Mr. Mongelluzzo told the commission that Bear Steams tested “all of the due diligence firms and their contract underwriters, and if they couldn’t pass the underwriting test, they weren’t permitted to work on our transactions,” the complaint said. He also told the investigators that the company “instituted a process where we went out and audited the individual diligence firms to see what their processes were and what they were doing internally as well.”

But in a subsequent deposition, Mr. Mongelluzzo conceded that Bear had not started to test its underwriters until February 2007, well after the mortgage market had begun crumbling, and that it didn’t begin its audit program of due diligence vendors until April 2007.

Mr. Marano is now chairman and chief executive of Residential Capital, the mortgage unit of Ally Financial. Mr. Mongelluzzo is an executive there as well. Both declined to comment.

It is to be expected that investigators for private law firms will turn up loads of ammunition to help them in their court battles. But in the past, law enforcement was similarly aggressive in its own pursuits.

Now, the balance seems to have shifted, with private litigants doing more legal heavy lifting than those who serve the public.

Perhaps the new working group will right this imbalance. But its members don’t have a lot of time, with the election coming. Private litigants have drawn a pretty clear road map for the places that this new group might go. Its leaders should welcome the assistance, given that the clock is ticking.

Cuomo Appoints New Cop: Homeowners Hopeful That Truth Will be Revealed

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Expanding Reach, Cuomo Creates Second Cop on Financial Beat

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ALBANY — Benjamin M. Lawsky is not the attorney general of New York State.

But one could be forgiven for being confused. Since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo installed him as superintendent of a new state agency, the Department of Financial Services, which became active in October, Mr. Lawsky has been making headlines normally associated with attorneys general.

He has forced insurers to turn over more than $100 million in unpaid death benefits to surviving family members, dispatched rafts of subpoenas to banks, and pressed lenders to curb abusive foreclosure practices.

Critics say the new financial services agency reflects Mr. Cuomo’s expansive view of his executive powers, which he has continually sought to strengthen during his 13 months in office. They also see an attempt by the governor to encroach on the turf of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a fellow Democrat with whom Mr. Cuomo has had a precarious relationship.

Supporters say it is an auspicious time to have two cops on the financial beat — after all, the agency, which subsumed the existing Banking and Insurance Departments, came into being as the Occupy Wall Street movement was finding its footing and focusing its critique on those very industries.

Mr. Lawsky, in his first few months on the job, is using a playbook that he helped write as a top lieutenant in the attorney general’s office when Mr. Cuomo held that post, gravitating toward headline-grabbing cases while looking for negotiated solutions with industry executives.

“We set our priorities here often simply based on what the big issues are,” Mr. Lawsky, 41, said in an interview. “Does that come from the world of Andrew Cuomo? Yes, because government shouldn’t be a waste of time. Government should be about making a difference in people’s lives.”

For his part, Mr. Schneiderman has not allowed himself to be rolled over.

Last year, he helped beat back an effort by Mr. Cuomo’s office to give Mr. Lawsky and the new agency even more expansive powers that would have cut into the heart of the attorney general’s jurisdiction. The governor’s proposal, which would have allowed Mr. Lawsky to investigate violations of the Martin Act, the sweeping state securities law used by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his successors to pursue financial malfeasance, alarmed Wall Street and even academics.

Writing in The New York Law Journal, Jonathan R. Macey, a Yale Law School professor, called it “a naked and highly suspicious power grab.”

And in a recent interview, John C. Coffee Jr., a law professor at Columbia University, put it this way: “Cuomo made his fame as attorney general, and he sort of treated that jurisdiction as portable and took it with him as governor.”

The Cuomo administration backed off, dropping the Martin Act provision. Nonetheless, the new agency, besides absorbing two major regulatory bodies, has gained a number of new powers. It has broader authority to fight fraud beyond the insurers and state-chartered banks it licenses, and its reach has extended to all manner of financial products, including student lending, credit cards and tax refund anticipation loans.

Eric R. Dinallo, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton and former state insurance superintendent, likened the new agency to the Securities and Exchange Commission, in the way it combines regulation and enforcement under one roof.

“It’s not common to have a combined regulatory and enforcement function,” he said, adding, “It’s effectively very competitive with the attorney general’s jurisdiction.”

The two agencies are publicly cordial, but behind the scenes they are much like two boxers feeling each other out in an opening round. Already, turfs are overlapping.

Mr. Schneiderman, a liberal-minded attorney general, made a national name for himself in his first year by spurning a settlement that the Obama administration and other attorneys general had been negotiating with the banking industry over foreclosure practices. Then last week, President Obama, vowing to get tougher on Wall Street, reached out to Mr. Schneiderman, naming him co-chairman of a new financial crimes unit to prosecute large-scale financial fraud.

At the same time, Mr. Cuomo, in his State of the State address this month, turned to Mr. Lawsky, not Mr. Schneiderman, on the issue, directing the Department of Financial Services to create a Foreclosure Relief Unit. And Mr. Lawsky has moved on his own to secure deals with smaller lenders on curbing abuses.

Asked whether he supported Mr. Schneiderman’s stance on the national negotiations, Mr. Lawsky was noncommittal.

“We’re not commenting at all on the ongoing negotiations because we are at least tangentially a part of them and could ultimately be called on to sign or not sign,” he said, adding, “We want to see what the final proposal is.”

Danny Kanner, a spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman, said in a statement that the two offices “will continue to work together toward our common purpose of protecting consumers, investors, and the integrity of New York’s global markets.”

“In the aftermath of the financial crisis,” the statement said, “we need more willing hands on deck, not less, to meet that critical objective.”

Mr. Lawsky said he was learning to balance the roles of regulator and enforcer. And during his years as a top aide to Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Lawsky has been known as one of the relatively few administration officials to play nicely with others.

“A lot of people like to paint me as a tough guy because I’m a former prosecutor,” he said, adding: “You are being handed a huge amount of power over people’s lives and their businesses. It’s not something you willy-nilly bang people over the head with.”

Mr. Lawsky grew up in New York and Pittsburgh, received his undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia, and worked under four United States attorneys for the Southern District of New York, prosecuting everything from insider trading to terror and mob cases. He is a runner, but last had time to train for and run a marathon — the Marine Corps Marathon — in 2009. (His time was 3:40:17.)

Perhaps his most notable early achievement has been putting pressure on health insurers to make public proposed rate increases. But his office also pointed to early relationships he has formed with both industry executives and consumer groups.

Theodore A. Mathas, chief executive of the New York Life Insurance Company, said, “Ben is approachable, he’s a good listener and he’s quickly grasped a lot of complex things we’ve thrown at him.” Michael P. Smith, president of the New York Bankers Association, said, “We are very pleased with his performance.”

On the consumer advocacy side, Charles Bell, programs director for Consumers Union, said, “We’ve been pleased that they have reached out,” adding that a group of consumer advocates was meeting with the agency monthly on a variety of topics.

Mr. Lawsky does know how to answer the tough questions. During a recent online question-and-answer session with the public, the first questioner asked: “Mr. Lawsky, are you copying the governor’s hairstyle? It seems you have a similar look.” He replied: “That never occurred to me. It’s very flattering. Thanks.”

 

Occupy Protesters and Police Clash in Oakland

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Occupy Protesters and Police Clash in Oakland

By SARAH MASLIN NIR

See full story on New York Times

A march to take over a vacant building by members of the Occupy movement in Oakland, Calif., turned into a violent confrontation with the police on Saturday, leaving three officers injured and about 200 people arrested.

The clashes began just before 3 p.m. when protesters marched toward the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, the police said, and began to tear down construction barricades. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse when protesters “began destroying construction equipment and fencing,” the Oakland police said in a press release.

“Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares, the police said.” Officers responded with smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles. Twenty people were arrested.

Most of the arrests occurred in the evening, when large groups of people were corralled in front of the Downtown Oakland Y.M.C.A. on Broadway. At one point, one group of protesters broke into the City Hall building.

On a livestream broadcast on the Web site oakfosho.com, dozens of protesters could be seen sitting cross-legged in darkness on the street in front of the Y.M.C.A. Their hands appeared to be bound behind them, while police officers stood watch. Occasionally the protesters sang or cheered.

The events were part of a demonstration dubbed “Move-in Day,” a plan by protesters to move into the vacant convention center and use it as a commune-like command center, according to the Web site occupyoaklandmoveinday.org.

“We were going to set up a community center,” said Benjamin Phillips, 32, a member of the Occupy Oakland media team. “It would be a place where we could house people, feed people, do all the things that we have been doing.”

In an open letter to Mayor Jean Quan on the Move-in Day site, the group threatened actions like “blockading the airport indefinitely, occupying City Hall indefinitely” and “shutting down the Oakland ports.” Occupy protesters did briefly shut down the city’s busy port in November.

In a statement issued before the march, Ms. Quan said that “the residents of Oakland are wearying of the constant focus and cost to our city.” On Saturday night, she added: “Once again, a violent splinter group of the Occupy Movement is engaging in violent actions against Oakland. The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground.”

In a statement, city officials said the total number of arrests was estimated at 200.

Ms. Quan has spent her first term embattled by the Occupy movement, which installed itself in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in October. After initially embracing the protest, she ordered the encampment removed from the plaza.

After a series of violent episodes, including a clash in which a Marine veteran of Iraq suffered a fractured skull when struck by a projectile in a confrontation with the police, Ms. Quan relented and permitted the protesters to return to the plaza. But two weeks later, in response to fears of renewed violence, she ordered the plaza cleared again.

Mr. Phillips, who said he is a veteran of the United States Air Force, spoke Saturday night from his home on Grand Avenue where he had stopped to rinse tear-gas residue from his contact lenses. He described the scene in front of the Y.M.C.A. as “terrifying.”

“This is disgusting, because this is not the way that America is supposed to work,” he said. “You’re supposed to be able to have something like freedom to assemble and air your grievances,” he said.

“It’s bizarre,” he said of the police reaction. “It’s not something you expect to see in the United States, and we’ve seen it over and over in Oakland.”

 

 

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