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

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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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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.

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