Wells Fargo, Rels Conspired to Inflate Home Appraisals

From Jose Semidey: [Editor’s Note: This is a major item that affects the core of both claims and defenses against the lenders. Any party seeking to foreclose is “admitting” that they are the holder in due course on the note or that they are the authorized agent for the HDC. Inflated appraisals greatly affect the APR and support causes of action for TILA violations and usury. They also increase the likelihood that the loan will go into default and inflate the loan amount and thus the payments. The increase in payments, particularly when they reset, greatly increases the probability (certainty in many cases) that the EXPECTED LIFE OF THE LOAN is not 30 years but rather whenever the reset is scheduled. So if the reset is set in one year and the amount of the payment is exceeds the income of the borrower you KNOW the life of the loan is only one year. Amortize ALL expenses of the loan over ONE YEAR instead of thirty and see what you get. With the amount of the inflated appraisal added to the cost of the loan, the actual APR will sometimes exceed 100% — unconscionable and illegal even in states that permit payday loans.]

Press Release : Wells Fargo Appraisers

Class Action Says Wells Fargo, Rels Illegally Strong-arm Appraisers

April 14, 2009

SEATTLE – Today two real-estate appraisers filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Rels Valuation, an appraisal management service, claiming the two organizations pressured and intimidated appraisers to deliver artificially inflated home appraisal values to help close loans and increase profits.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO), claims that beginning in 2004 Wells Fargo and Rels colluded to punish appraisers who refused to inflate appraisals by denying them future appraisal work.

Rels is one of the largest appraisal management companies in the country, acting as an intermediary between banks and appraisers. Appraisers, by law, are intended to be independent and autonomous from the influences of others, but according to the complaint are compelled to do the bidding of Rels, and through them Wells Fargo.

“We plan to show Rels effectively tells the appraisers what they want to see in the valuation, and if they don’t deliver, they are locked out of future work,” said Steve Berman, the attorney representing the plaintiffs and managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

According to Berman, Rels provides the appraiser with a predetermined figure called the ‘Borrower Estimated Value’ and expects the appraisers to deliver reports with values exceeding the Rels-supplied figures.

“We heard from appraisers who say that after providing bona-fide appraisals that come in below what Rels wants, the company contacts them and strongly suggests they reevaluate the property,” Berman noted. “If an appraiser refuses, we contend Rels simply refuses to use them again.”

Don Pearsall and Timothy Savage both claim Wells Fargo tried to strong-arm each of them into inflating appraisal values, violating the laws and regulations of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The USPAP rules clearly state an appraiser must not accept an assignment that includes the reporting of predetermined opinions and conclusions – something the lawsuit claims Rels does on a regular basis.

According to the compliant, Rels and Wells Fargo have given appraisers predetermined comparable properties to base appraisals, further compromising the appraisers’ independence.

Plaintiff Pearsall, a long-time appraiser, completed an appraisal for Wells Fargo and Rels in 2007. After submitting his report, Rels asked that he alter the report to reflect the company’s desired views on the property.

After refusing, the suit claims Rels blacklisted Pearsall, stripping him of a large portion of his income.

Timothy Savage, an appraiser in Vail, Colorado, also submitted two appraisals to Rels in 2009, which the company rejected, asking him to increase the appraisal values. After refusing, Savage received a letter from Rels informing him that he is no longer included on the approved panel of appraisers, the suit claims.

“We’ve heard from appraisers across the country sharing similar stories – bullied into inflating prices and blacklisted when refusing,” Berman added. “Apparently the treatment that both Tim and Don experienced is the same for hundreds, if not thousands of appraisers.”

The lawsuit seeks to represent all state-licensed or state-approved appraisers nationwide who’ve been removed as an approved appraiser by Wells Fargo or Rels Valuation. The suit asks for treble damages and is the first lawsuit filed on behalf of appraisers against Wells Fargo and Rels.

You can learn more about this case by visiting www.hbsslaw.com/appraisers. If you’ve performed appraisals for Wells Fargo or Rels Valuation and been blacklisted, you can also contact attorneys at wfc@hbsslaw.com.

About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and New York. Since the firm’s founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit www.hbsslaw.com.

Jose L. Semidey
Senior Mortgage Analyst
Mortgage Analysis and Consulting
Rescuing the truth in lending

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Vienna, Va 22182

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7 Responses

  1. Being a layman in this area, I think this information will be useful to the common man in knowing about loan modification and what can happen for foreclosures even with reputed lenders.

  2. The Appraisal Bubble
    In Run Up to Real Estate Bust, Lenders Pushed Appraisers To Inflate Values
    By Joe Eaton | April 14, 2009

    In 2004, years before plummeting real estate values turned Fort Myers, Florida, into a top five foreclosure capital, appraiser Mike Tipton faced a dilemma.

    Tipton’s employer, eAppraiseIT, sent him to value a two-bedroom home in a new subdivision built by the developer D.R. Horton. Paperwork given by the appraisal management company to Tipton included a $245,000 estimated value.

    But after inspecting the home and comparing it to five similar houses that had recently sold, Tipton set the value at $237,000, $8,000 less than the estimate. He knew the difference might disappoint DHI Mortgage, the prospective buyer’s lender, which is a subsidiary of developer D.R. Horton. And indeed it did.

    imageEvidence suggests that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have bought mortgages without ensuring they were based on accurate appraisals. Credit: Ariel Olson Surowidjojo. The lender, in a process appraisers say was common in the boom days before the housing bubble burst, asked Tipton to redo the appraisal. It sent paperwork through eAppraiseIT asking him to reconsider the value. It gave him different homes to use for comparisons.

    “If you read between the lines, they wanted a larger value,” Tipton said. “I told them no, I wasn’t changing my report.”

    Tipton, who like many other appraisers is paid by the job, says he was never given another appraisal for a D.R. Horton home. “All I can say is D.R. Horton has remained an active developer in Lee County,” Tipton said. “I didn’t see any further appraisals for DHI Mortgage. So you tell me.”

    Carrie Gaska, a spokeswoman for First American eAppraiseIT, declined to comment on why Tipton received no further orders from the company for DHI Mortgage properties.

    Tipton is among dozens of appraisers who have told the Center for Public Integrity that for years lenders across the United States have pushed them into inflating the value of homes to justify higher mortgages. Appraisers and lenders alike are demanding better oversight of the industry. In addition, the Center has obtained copies of lenders’ “blacklists” containing the names of thousands of appraisers; some appraisers say lenders used those lists to exclude those who refused to inflate home values.

    The Center also found many appraisers who say they bowed to lender pressure to “hit the numbers” in order to remain in business. These appraisers, along with the lenders who pressured them, helped pump air into the housing bubble that led to widespread economic devastation, according to dozens of appraisers, lenders, and others with intimate knowledge of home loan practices.

    And there’s evidence that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest purchasers of home loans, bought mortgages without ensuring they were made with accurate appraisals, according to an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

    No one knows exactly how much of a role inflated appraisals played in the mortgage meltdown. But as an increasing number of homeowners face foreclosure, many remain unaware that the appraisal they paid for during the purchase process may not have reflected the true value of their investment, and may have allowed them to borrow more money than their home was worth.

    Depending on the state where the homeowners purchased, the scheme may or may not have been against the law. Pressuring an appraiser to inflate the value of a property is a crime in at least 20 states and the District of Columbia, though it is often a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, a slap on the wrist that appraisers say does little to prevent the exertion of undue pressure.

    imageVirginia-based appraiser George Dodd is urging more regulation of what he calls a “corrupt” appraisal industry. Credit: George Dodd. “There is rampant corruption throughout the industry,” said George Dodd, a veteran appraiser in Virginia who has been advocating for more regulation. “The way it stands now, the public doesn’t stand a chance.”

    Dodd said, that in addition to the appraisal ordered by the lender, consumers can protect themselves by ordering a second independent appraisal before a purchase. They will, however, still have to pay for the lender’s appraisal.
    Fudging the Numbers

    Richard Frank, an appraiser in Vero Beach, Florida, started appraising homes in 1998, when values were climbing. From the beginning, Frank said he stepped into a business arrangement in which lenders forced appraisers to abandon their standards if they wanted work.

    Frank said lenders commonly gave appraisers an estimated value for a home on each appraisal order. Appraisers, who usually determine values by comparing homes to recent sales of comparable properties, often worked backwards from that estimated price to find recent real estate sales that would “make the value,” he said. Working backwards from the estimate was faster. Everyone made money. And since appraising homes is subjective — both an art and a science — it was easy to fudge numbers.

    “The [supposedly comparable] houses might be bigger and better, but who’s going to know?” Franks said. “In an increasing market, your sins are buried.”

    If an appraisal came in lower than the purchase price, the loan likely would be denied. Since loan origination staff is typically paid by commission, a failed deal meant no paycheck for them. If that happened too many times, Frank says, lenders stopped sending the appraiser work. “Put out, and you will get more dates. It’s just that simple,” he said.

    Richard Bitner, a former subprime lender in Texas who has written an insider account of the mortgage industry collapse, backs up Frank’s story. Bitner says the pressure came more from the cozy relationship between lenders and appraisers than threats.

    “The pressure applied didn’t really need to be overt,” Bitner said. “If suddenly [an appraiser] can’t make the values, at the end of the day, it’s pretty easy to go to someone else. You are here to make money.”

    Appraisers say lenders did just that, sometimes asking appraisers to promise a value before they officially ordered the report.

    Both appraisers and lenders say the two professions have not always been at odds. Appraisers traditionally served as the front-line defense for loan underwriting departments, ensuring that the value of a home was worth the loan amount in case the lender needed to foreclose. In the past, many banks had in-house appraisal departments. And, unlike today, lenders historically kept and serviced the loan for the life of the mortgage. But when lenders began bundling loans and selling them to Wall Street and other investors, lenders carried less risk and industry analysts say they became less concerned about home values. With no “skin in the game,” lenders focused on closing deals. In this climate, many in the industry say the appraisal became a barrier to jump over.

    Appraisers say making money was easy, as long as they did not cross lenders. But if they did, appraisers say lenders lashed out, adding their names to the blacklists that lenders originally kept to identify incompetent appraisers. Lenders kept their own lists, but appraisers sometimes found their names on those lists even if they never worked for that lender.

    Amerisave, one of the largest online mortgage lenders, has close to 12,000 appraisers on its “ineligible appraiser list,” which was removed from the Atlanta-based company’s website after the Center made inquiries about it. In December, appraiser Tom Woolford found his name on Amerisave’s list when the list also appeared on a popular online appraisal industry forum. Woolford said he has never done an appraisal for Amerisave, and the address they used for him was at least 10 years old. He doesn’t know how he ended up on the list, but he says it could be a matter of reputation: He says he never gives in to lender pressure.

    “I think you will find a lot of the people on these lists do not hit numbers,” Woolford said. “I won’t lie, and I won’t push a number for nobody.”

    After conferring with top management officials, Martin Wilhelm, an Amerisave vice president, declined to answer questions about how it compiles its blacklist.
    Unheard Warning Bells

    Before real estate prices began to plummet in 2006, some sounded the alarm on fraudulent appraisals and lender pressure, but few listened to the warnings, least of all Congress, industry regulators, and the Justice Department.

    David Callahan, a founder of the public policy think tank Demos, was one of the first people to study inflated appraisals and lender pressure. In 2005, Callahan wrote a paper describing the financial incentives for lenders and appraisers to pursue inflated appraisals. The goal of lenders, brokers, real estate agents and developers was to ensure that a home loan closed without a problem, Callahan said. All those people exert pressure on appraisers to inflate values.

    In a 2007 study by October Research, a real estate news provider, 90 percent of more than 1,200 appraisers polled reported feeling pressure to change property values, usually from lenders, mortgage brokers or real estate agents.

    “Congress didn’t really care about it,” Callahan said, noting the lack of reaction his report generated in Washington. “There was remarkably little legislative activity looking at the corruption in the real estate market.”

    In fact, Congress had struggled with the issue of lender pressure on appraisers since the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. In recent years, Congressman Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat, has been the most vocal proponent for stronger regulation, proposing legislation in 2007 that would have set stiffer appraisal independence standards. The legislation, which would have prohibited lender coercion of appraisers and established penalties for it, was folded into the 2007 Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. The legislation faced stiff opposition and lobbying by the banking and mortgage industry, which argued it would adversely impact credit availability, and the bill was not taken up in the Senate after passing the House. In March, the legislation was reintroduced in the House as part of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.

    imageStrict appraisal standards Representative Paul Kanjorksi, Democrat of Pennsylvania, proposed in 2007, died in the Senate. Appraisal industry insiders say part of the difficulty in policing the process stems from regulatory fragmentation. Appraisers fall under the jurisdiction of state regulators, which enforce standards set up by the Appraisal Foundation, a nonprofit industry group authorized by Congress. State licensing is overseen by the Appraisal Subcommittee, an agency created by Congress in 1989.

    Hyped appraisals did not escape the attention of federal banking and savings and loan regulators, but reports published since the mortgage industry collapse show that those officials did little to stop the practice. A February audit by the Treasury Inspector General on the implosion of IndyMac, a savings and loan, noted that the Office of Thrift Supervision, IndyMac’s primary regulator, identified problems with appraisals on the company’s loans in 2001, but took no formal action.

    In one example from the audit report, an IndyMac file for a $1.5 million loan contained appraisals ranging from $639,000 to $1.5 million. “There was no support to show why the higher value appraisal was the appropriate one to use for approving the loan,” the report says.

    In 2006, Ameriquest, then the largest subprime lender in the country, paid $325 million and agreed to reform its business practices to settle a 49-state investigation into its predatory lending practices. Among the allegations, the lawsuit claimed Ameriquest engaged in deceptive or misleading practices to obtain inflated appraisals substantially beyond the market values of homes. The company, which closed in 2007, denied the allegations.

    Problems like these only seem to come to light during declining markets and concerns are put on a shelf when buyers return, says Dave Biggers, founder and CEO of the real estate technology company a la mode, inc. In an appreciating market, appraisals five to 10 percent beyond value are not an issue, he said, and home values climb beyond appraisal values soon after the sale.

    But when the market peaked in 2005 and then began its sharp decline, inflated appraisals exacerbated the trouble faced by “underwater” homeowners. “We as the taxpayers are getting stuck with the bill,” Biggers said. “What has not been investigated is the systemic issues that take place on the basis of policy by many of these companies.”
    “Who Has Juice with Whom”

    Since the bubble burst, the FBI has focused most of its real estate efforts on appraisers and other fraudsters who developed intricate schemes to defraud banks. The Justice Department is not going through the wreckage looking at the institutionalized lender pressure on the appraisal process. An FBI official, asking not to be identified because the agency has no official position on the matter, said they view the matter as a regulatory issue to be addressed by Congress not a matter of law enforcement.

    FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole testified in March before the House Committee on Financial Services about the agency’s efforts to combat mortgage fraud, saying the bureau is focusing its limited white collar crime-fighting resources on real estate industry insiders engaged in fraud for profit. Those cases target real estate speculators and mortgage brokers who work with appraisers to sell a house for far more than its true value. So far, however, there have been no prosecutions of lenders who pressured appraisers to inflate values.

    Instead, the highest-profile investigation of the appraisal industry has come from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. In 2007, Cuomo filed a lawsuit against First American Corp. and its subsidiary First American eAppraiseIT, charging that eAppraiseIT allowed loan production staff at Washington Mutual to pressure appraisers to inflate home values. The suit is pending.

    imageNew York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo launched a high-profile investigation of the appraisal industry, leading to a 2007 suit against First American Corp. Credit: New York Office of the Attorney General. The suit claims the appraisal management company allowed Washington Mutual’s “loan production staff to hand-pick appraisers who bring in appraisal values high enough to permit WaMu’s loans to close, and improperly permits WaMu to pressure eAppraiseIT appraisers to change values that are too low to permit loans to close.”

    In addition, the complaint alleges that executives at eAppraiseIt knew its appraisal arrangement with Washington Mutual broke the law. “I think WaMu’s new initiative is way over the line,” it quotes eAppraiseIT’s executive vice president as writing in spring of 2007 to the company’s president. “It is even possible that the current arrangement crosses the line.”

    “Bingo!” replied the company president, according to the complaint. “It boils down to who has juice with whom at the regulatory level.”

    In a 2007 press release, First American said the New York lawsuit “has no foundation in fact or law. The Attorney General’s allegations, largely based on a handful of e-mails that have been taken out of context, or mischaracterized, and an incomplete review of the facts, belie our record of compliance with applicable law.”

    Cuomo also subpoenaed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The investigation into whether the two largest loan purchasers bought loans that included inflated appraisals was dropped in March 2008 after Fannie and Freddie agreed to strict new rules — penned in part by Cuomo’s office — governing the appraisal practices for the loans they buy. They also agreed to pay $24 million to fund the Independent Valuation Protection Institute, a new organization to help implement and monitor the code.

    What led Fannie and Freddie to the agreement was not made public, and Cuomo’s investigators aren’t talking, but his office did point the Center for Public Integrity to letters Cuomo sent in 2007 to the CEOs of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expanding his investigation to include a subpoena of their records.

    In the letters, Cuomo wrote that his office had “uncovered a pattern of collusion between lenders and appraisers that has resulted in widespread inflation of the valuations of homes.” Further, Cuomo wrote that evidence shows mortgages Fannie and Freddie purchased from Washington Mutual “may be premised on fraudulently inflated appraisals” that do not meet regulatory standards. “We are, therefore, expanding our investigation to determine the extent of [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s] knowledge of, and actions regarding, these problems as they relate to past mortgage purchases and securitizations.”

    Cuomo’s office declined the Center’s request for details of its investigation’s findings.

    The Home Valuation Code of Conduct, an industry standard which came about as a result of Cuomo’s investigation, is slated to go into effect on May 1, makes deep changes to the appraisal industry.

    The code, which affects all loans eligible for purchase by Fannie and Freddie, bans lenders and brokers from pressuring appraisers to hype appraisals by threatening to withhold future business as punishment. Lenders must inform appraisers when they are removed from qualified use lists and allow them to appeal. It also bans loan origination staff from ordering appraisals directly — instead, the lender must use other in-house staff or go through a middleman appraisal management company. Even so, the incentive to pressure appraisers still exists, even for supposedly independent appraisal management companies.
    Fox and the Hen House

    Despite the changes, the new code has been panned by both the appraisal industry and some lenders. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers filed a lawsuit to try to block the rules, arguing that the code puts smaller mortgage brokerages at a disadvantage because they will be forced to rely on lenders to obtain appraisals for their customers, thereby limiting their ability to shop for loans. The association dropped the action earlier this month.

    Appraisers who work for themselves or small businesses say the code will end their careers since mortgage brokers and other loan generation staff can no longer contact them directly. Instead, they say the code in effect directs all business to appraisal management companies, the unregulated middlemen that are often subsidiaries of lenders.

    Appraisers say the management companies passed on pressure from lenders in the past, including in Cuomo’s case against eAppraiseIt, and see nothing in the new code to stop it from happening.

    “It’s a bit of irony that the solution is the same thing that got us here,” said Bill Garber, director of government and external relations at the Appraisal Institute, a trade association representing appraisers.

    The Home Valuation Code of Conduct, Garber added, is lip service to cleaning up the industry. Appraisal management companies “are just as capable of pressuring appraisers as anyone else.”

    Appraisers also dislike the plan because some appraisal management companies take a hefty administrative fee and pay low rates to appraisers, which experienced appraisers say will force them out of the business and turn the industry over to less experienced appraisers who are more likely to make mistakes.

    Pressure will still come from the management companies, said Dodd, the Virginia appraiser. “They could give a damn about the consumer. They don’t care if the consumer pays ten, twenty, or thirty thousand more than it’s worth.”

    Cuomo hasn’t answered critics of the new code, and his office did not return calls from the Center for Public Integrity.
    Lawyers, Banks, and Money

    Since the real estate crash, the appraisal and lending industries have come under closer watch by regulators and Congress. But so far, no one has addressed the effect inflated appraisals have had on struggling homeowners. Buyers who moved in at the height of the boom are particularly vulnerable, and attorneys say their struggle provides fertile ground for civil litigation.

    “I definitely believe that lenders have engaged in widespread illegal activities, and they will come under increased scrutiny in the next year or so as people who have been damaged by this realize there are some bad actors out there,” said Steve Berman, an attorney in Seattle.

    In October, Berman’s firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, filed a class action on behalf of blacklisted appraisers against Countrywide Financial and its subsidiary Landsafe, an appraisal management company. Like Cuomo’s suit, Berman’s case argues that Countrywide forced appraisers to hit the numbers and added them to a blacklist if they refused.

    “Countrywide… has engaged in a practice of pressuring and intimidating appraisers into using appraisal techniques that meet Countrywide’s business objectives even if the use of such appraisal techniques is improper and in violation of industry standards,” the complaint alleges.

    If the appraisers refused, the complaint says they were placed on a “field review list,” which disqualified them for further work for loans for Countrywide. Because mortgage brokers shop for lenders, if an appraiser was blacklisted by Countrywide, the largest independent mortgage lender, they were in effect blacklisted by much of the industry, Berman’s complaint claims.

    According to the complaint, Countrywide’s blacklist contains more than 2,000 appraisers. Berman said his firm is looking at other lenders and their blacklists as it considers further litigation.

    The new appraisal code and increased scrutiny of the industry seems to have had some effect. Lender pressure is not as strong, appraisers say, but it still exists. Ray Miller, an appraiser outside Madison, Wisconsin, says the pressure is moving to FHA loans and refinancing as credit for other loans remains dried up.

    In January, Miller said he did an appraisal for a lake home where the owner was looking to refinance. The original appraisal, done when the owner bought the home a few years back, listed the value at $554,000, but the comparables used to hit that number were from homes on a more upscale lake, Miller concluded.

    Miller’s reappraisal came in at $400,000. “I’m just waiting for the phone call,” he said.

    In February, Miller received a call from a different lender. This one wanted him to remove pictures of a cracked sidewalk he included in his appraisal. This would be prohibited under the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. But Miller expects lenders will figure out a way around the rules.

    “They don’t want good appraisers,” he said. “They don’t want good numbers, even now.”

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  3. This is the link to the Bill Moyers Show on PBS in early April.

    This is not only entertaining but also illustrative of how corrupt the Banksters are.

    share with every one please.


    Mr. Garfield, can you enable video on the blog???

  4. Please just for your reassurance, do not fly blind. I know it may take a few dollars but before you dwell in the negotiation, please understand that a loan modification is a myth. Statistics show that 95% of all loan modification requests are denied. And instead of you asking for a favor you should very well be demanding a complete resolution of your loan.

    Invest in a Mortgage loan audit, you may start with a TILA, RESPA review and then interview with a qualified attorney.
    The lenders if they were genuinely interested in modifying they would have avoided over 4,000,000 foreclosures so far.

    Now our magnificent federal government will pay some of these crooks over 9.9 billion dollars to get the same results 96% failure rate.

    If you want to negotiate with these banksters you need to have a position of strength. Please learn as much as you can as fast as you can about what they did to you. This blog is free for you and it is a wealth of information. If your lawyers is hesitant make him go to Orlando and learn the basics of foreclosure defense.

    Please do not give up!

    J Semidey
    Mortgage Analysis and Consulting

  5. April 3, 2009

    BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.

    For months now, revelations of the wholesale greed and blatant transgressions of Wall Street have reminded us that “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One.” In fact, the man you’re about to meet wrote a book with just that title. It was based upon his experience as a tough regulator during one of the darkest chapters in our financial history: the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: These numbers as large as they are, vastly understate the problem of fraud.

    BILL MOYERS: Bill Black was in New York this week for a conference at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice where scholars and journalists gathered to ask the question, “How do they get away with it?” Well, no one has asked that question more often than Bill Black.

    The former Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention now teaches Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. During the savings and loan crisis, it was Black who accused then-house speaker Jim Wright and five US Senators, including John Glenn and John McCain, of doing favors for the S&L’s in exchange for contributions and other perks. The senators got off with a slap on the wrist, but so enraged was one of those bankers, Charles Keating — after whom the senate’s so-called “Keating Five” were named — he sent a memo that read, in part, “get Black — kill him dead.” Metaphorically, of course. Of course.

    Now Black is focused on an even greater scandal, and he spares no one — not even the President he worked hard to elect, Barack Obama. But his main targets are the Wall Street barons, heirs of an earlier generation whose scandalous rip-offs of wealth back in the 1930s earned them comparison to Al Capone and the mob, and the nickname “banksters.”

    Bill Black, welcome to the Journal.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Thank you.

    BILL MOYERS: I was taken with your candor at the conference here in New York to hear you say that this crisis we’re going through, this economic and financial meltdown is driven by fraud. What’s your definition of fraud?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, “I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value.” And as a result, there’s no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that’s what we have.

    BILL MOYERS: In your book, you make it clear that calculated dishonesty by people in charge is at the heart of most large corporate failures and scandals, including, of course, the S&L, but is that true? Is that what you’re saying here, that it was in the boardrooms and the CEO offices where this fraud began?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.

    BILL MOYERS: How did they do it? What do you mean?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, the way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better. Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you’re a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there’s going to be a disaster down the road.

    BILL MOYERS: So you’re suggesting, saying that CEOs of some of these banks and mortgage firms in order to increase their own personal income, deliberately set out to make bad loans?


    BILL MOYERS: How do they get away with it? I mean, what about their own checks and balances in the company? What about their accounting divisions?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: All of those checks and balances report to the CEO, so if the CEO goes bad, all of the checks and balances are easily overcome. And the art form is not simply to defeat those internal controls, but to suborn them, to turn them into your greatest allies. And the bonus programs are exactly how you do that.

    BILL MOYERS: If I wanted to go looking for the parties to this, with a good bird dog, where would you send me?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, that’s exactly what hasn’t happened. We haven’t looked, all right? The Bush Administration essentially got rid of regulation, so if nobody was looking, you were able to do this with impunity and that’s exactly what happened. Where would you look? You’d look at the specialty lenders. The lenders that did almost all of their work in the sub-prime and what’s called Alt-A, liars’ loans.

    BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Liars’ loans–

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Liars’ loans.

    BILL MOYERS: Why did they call them liars’ loans?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Because they were liars’ loans.

    BILL MOYERS: And they knew it?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: They knew it. They knew that they were frauds.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Liars’ loans mean that we don’t check. You tell us what your income is. You tell us what your job is. You tell us what your assets are, and we agree to believe you. We won’t check on any of those things. And by the way, you get a better deal if you inflate your income and your job history and your assets.

    BILL MOYERS: You think they really said that to borrowers?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: We know that they said that to borrowers. In fact, they were also called, in the trade, ninja loans.

    BILL MOYERS: Ninja?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Yeah, because no income verification, no job verification, no asset verification.

    BILL MOYERS: You’re talking about significant American companies.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Huge! One company produced as many losses as the entire Savings and Loan debacle.

    BILL MOYERS: Which company?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: IndyMac specialized in making liars’ loans. In 2006 alone, it sold $80 billion dollars of liars’ loans to other companies. $80 billion.

    BILL MOYERS: And was this happening exclusively in this sub-prime mortgage business?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: No, and that’s a big part of the story as well. Even prime loans began to have non-verification. Even Ronald Reagan, you know, said, “Trust, but verify.” They just gutted the verification process. We know that will produce enormous fraud, under economic theory, criminology theory, and two thousand years of life experience.

    BILL MOYERS: Is it possible that these complex instruments were deliberately created so swindlers could exploit them?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, absolutely. This stuff, the exotic stuff that you’re talking about was created out of things like liars’ loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad. And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That’s why it’s toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking, during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a Congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it’s scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I’m quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, “the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined.”

    BILL MOYERS: So if your assumption is correct, your evidence is sound, the bank, the lending company, created a fraud. And the ratings agency that is supposed to test the value of these assets knowingly entered into the fraud. Both parties are committing fraud by intention.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Right, and the investment banker that — we call it pooling — puts together these bad mortgages, these liars’ loans, and creates the toxic waste of these derivatives. All of them do that. And then they sell it to the world and the world just thinks because it has a triple-A rating it must actually be safe. Well, instead, there are 60 and 80 percent losses on these things, because of course they, in reality, are toxic waste.

    BILL MOYERS: You’re describing what Bernie Madoff did to a limited number of people. But you’re saying it’s systemic, a systemic Ponzi scheme.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, Bernie was a piker. He doesn’t even get into the front ranks of a Ponzi scheme…

    BILL MOYERS: But you’re saying our system became a Ponzi scheme.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Our system…

    BILL MOYERS: Our financial system…

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Became a Ponzi scheme. Everybody was buying a pig in the poke. But they were buying a pig in the poke with a pretty pink ribbon, and the pink ribbon said, “Triple-A.”

    BILL MOYERS: Is there a law against liars’ loans?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Not directly, but there, of course, many laws against fraud, and liars’ loans are fraudulent.

    BILL MOYERS: Because…

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Because they’re not going to be repaid and because they had false representations. They involve deceit, which is the essence of fraud.

    BILL MOYERS: Why is it so hard to prosecute? Why hasn’t anyone been brought to justice over this?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Because they didn’t even begin to investigate the major lenders until the market had actually collapsed, which is completely contrary to what we did successfully in the Savings and Loan crisis, right? Even while the institutions were reporting they were the most profitable savings and loan in America, we knew they were frauds. And we were moving to close them down. Here, the Justice Department, even though it very appropriately warned, in 2004, that there was an epidemic…

    BILL MOYERS: Who did?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: The FBI publicly warned, in September 2004 that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud, that if it was allowed to continue it would produce a crisis at least as large as the Savings and Loan debacle. And that they were going to make sure that they didn’t let that happen. So what goes wrong? After 9/11, the attacks, the Justice Department transfers 500 white-collar specialists in the FBI to national terrorism. Well, we can all understand that. But then, the Bush administration refused to replace the missing 500 agents. So even today, again, as you say, this crisis is 1000 times worse, perhaps, certainly 100 times worse, than the Savings and Loan crisis. There are one-fifth as many FBI agents as worked the Savings and Loan crisis.

    BILL MOYERS: You talk about the Bush administration. Of course, there’s that famous photograph of some of the regulators in 2003, who come to a press conference with a chainsaw suggesting that they’re going to slash, cut business loose from regulation, right?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, they succeeded. And in that picture, by the way, the other — three of the other guys with pruning shears are the…

    BILL MOYERS: That’s right.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: They’re the trade representatives. They’re the lobbyists for the bankers. And everybody’s grinning. The government’s working together with the industry to destroy regulation. Well, we now know what happens when you destroy regulation. You get the biggest financial calamity of anybody under the age of 80.

    BILL MOYERS: But I can point you to statements by Larry Summers, who was then Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury, or the other Clinton Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin. I can point you to suspects in both parties, right?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: There were two really big things, under the Clinton administration. One, they got rid of the law that came out of the real-world disasters of the Great Depression. We learned a lot of things in the Great Depression. And one is we had to separate what’s called commercial banking from investment banking. That’s the Glass-Steagall law. But we thought we were much smarter, supposedly. So we got rid of that law, and that was bipartisan. And the other thing is we passed a law, because there was a very good regulator, Brooksley Born, that everybody should know about and probably doesn’t. She tried to do the right thing to regulate one of these exotic derivatives that you’re talking about. We call them C.D.F.S. And Summers, Rubin, and Phil Gramm came together to say not only will we block this particular regulation. We will pass a law that says you can’t regulate. And it’s this type of derivative that is most involved in the AIG scandal. AIG all by itself, cost the same as the entire Savings and Loan debacle.

    BILL MOYERS: What did AIG contribute? What did they do wrong?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: They made bad loans. Their type of loan was to sell a guarantee, right? And they charged a lot of fees up front. So, they booked a lot of income. Paid enormous bonuses. The bonuses we’re thinking about now, they’re much smaller than these bonuses that were also the product of accounting fraud. And they got very, very rich. But, of course, then they had guaranteed this toxic waste. These liars’ loans. Well, we’ve just gone through why those toxic waste, those liars’ loans, are going to have enormous losses. And so, you have to pay the guarantee on those enormous losses. And you go bankrupt. Except that you don’t in the modern world, because you’ve come to the United States, and the taxpayers play the fool. Under Secretary Geithner and under Secretary Paulson before him… we took $5 billion dollars, for example, in U.S. taxpayer money. And sent it to a huge Swiss Bank called UBS. At the same time that that bank was defrauding the taxpayers of America. And we were bringing a criminal case against them. We eventually get them to pay a $780 million fine, but wait, we gave them $5 billion. So, the taxpayers of America paid the fine of a Swiss Bank. And why are we bailing out somebody who that is defrauding us?

    BILL MOYERS: And why…

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: How mad is this?

    BILL MOYERS: What is your explanation for why the bankers who created this mess are still calling the shots?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, that, especially after what’s just happened at G.M., that’s… it’s scandalous.

    BILL MOYERS: Why are they firing the president of G.M. and not firing the head of all these banks that are involved?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: There are two reasons. One, they’re much closer to the bankers. These are people from the banking industry. And they have a lot more sympathy. In fact, they’re outright hostile to autoworkers, as you can see. They want to bash all of their contracts. But when they get to banking, they say, ‘contracts, sacred.’ But the other element of your question is we don’t want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn’t cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up.

    BILL MOYERS: The cover up?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Sure. The cover up.

    BILL MOYERS: That’s a serious charge.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Of course.

    BILL MOYERS: Who’s covering up?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it’s going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they’re allowing all the banks to report that they’re not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can’t be true. It can’t be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they’re fine.

    These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because…

    BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation’s top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he’s a failed legacy regulator.

    BILL MOYERS: But he denies that he was a regulator. Let me show you some of his testimony before Congress. Take a look at this.

    TIMOTHY GEITHNER:I’ve never been a regulator, for better or worse. And I think you’re right to say that we have to be very skeptical that regulation can solve all of these problems. We have parts of our system that are overwhelmed by regulation.

    Overwhelmed by regulation! It wasn’t the absence of regulation that was the problem, it was despite the presence of regulation you’ve got huge risks that build up.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, he may be right that he never regulated, but his job was to regulate. That was his mission statement.


    WILLIAM K. BLACK: As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is responsible for regulating most of the largest bank holding companies in America. And he’s completely wrong that we had too much regulation in some of these areas. I mean, he gives no details, obviously. But that’s just plain wrong.

    BILL MOYERS: How is this happening? I mean why is it happening?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Until you get the facts, it’s harder to blow all this up. And, of course, the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts.

    BILL MOYERS: What facts?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: The facts about how bad the condition of the banks is. So, as long as I keep the old CEO who caused the problems, is he going to go vigorously around finding the problems? Finding the frauds?


    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Taking away people’s bonuses?

    BILL MOYERS: To hear you say this is unusual because you supported Barack Obama, during the campaign. But you’re seeming disillusioned now.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, certainly in the financial sphere, I am. I think, first, the policies are substantively bad. Second, I think they completely lack integrity. Third, they violate the rule of law. This is being done just like Secretary Paulson did it. In violation of the law. We adopted a law after the Savings and Loan crisis, called the Prompt Corrective Action Law. And it requires them to close these institutions. And they’re refusing to obey the law.

    BILL MOYERS: In other words, they could have closed these banks without nationalizing them?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, you do a receivership. No one — Ronald Reagan did receiverships. Nobody called it nationalization.

    BILL MOYERS: And that’s a law?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: That’s the law.

    BILL MOYERS: So, Paulson could have done this? Geithner could do this?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Not could. Was mandated–

    BILL MOYERS: By the law.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: By the law.

    BILL MOYERS: This law, you’re talking about.


    BILL MOYERS: What the reason they give for not doing it?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: They ignore it. And nobody calls them on it.

    BILL MOYERS: Well, where’s Congress? Where’s the press? Where–

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, where’s the Pecora investigation?

    BILL MOYERS: The what?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: The Pecora investigation. The Great Depression, we said, “Hey, we have to learn the facts. What caused this disaster, so that we can take steps, like pass the Glass-Steagall law, that will prevent future disasters?” Where’s our investigation?

    What would happen if after a plane crashes, we said, “Oh, we don’t want to look in the past. We want to be forward looking. Many people might have been, you know, we don’t want to pass blame. No. We have a nonpartisan, skilled inquiry. We spend lots of money on, get really bright people. And we find out, to the best of our ability, what caused every single major plane crash in America. And because of that, aviation has an extraordinarily good safety record. We ought to follow the same policies in the financial sphere. We have to find out what caused the disasters, or we will keep reliving them. And here, we’ve got a double tragedy. It isn’t just that we are failing to learn from the mistakes of the past. We’re failing to learn from the successes of the past.

    BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: In the Savings and Loan debacle, we developed excellent ways for dealing with the frauds, and for dealing with the failed institutions. And for 15 years after the Savings and Loan crisis, didn’t matter which party was in power, the U.S. Treasury Secretary would fly over to Tokyo and tell the Japanese, “You ought to do things the way we did in the Savings and Loan crisis, because it worked really well. Instead you’re covering up the bank losses, because you know, you say you need confidence. And so, we have to lie to the people to create confidence. And it doesn’t work. You will cause your recession to continue and continue.” And the Japanese call it the lost decade. That was the result. So, now we get in trouble, and what do we do? We adopt the Japanese approach of lying about the assets. And you know what? It’s working just as well as it did in Japan.

    BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.

    BILL MOYERS: You are.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right? They’re scared to death of a collapse. They’re afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we’ll run screaming to the exits. And we won’t rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it’s foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, “We just can’t let the big banks fail.” That’s wrong.

    BILL MOYERS: But what might happen, at this point, if in fact they keep from us the true health of the banks?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, then the banks will, as they did in Japan, either stay enormously weak, or Treasury will be forced to increasingly absurd giveaways of taxpayer money. We’ve seen how horrific AIG — and remember, they kept secrets from everyone.

    BILL MOYERS: A.I.G. did?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: What we’re doing with — no, Treasury and both administrations. The Bush administration and now the Obama administration kept secret from us what was being done with AIG. AIG was being used secretly to bail out favored banks like UBS and like Goldman Sachs. Secretary Paulson’s firm, that he had come from being CEO. It got the largest amount of money. $12.9 billion. And they didn’t want us to know that. And it was only Congressional pressure, and not Congressional pressure, by the way, on Geithner, but Congressional pressure on AIG.

    Where Congress said, “We will not give you a single penny more unless we know who received the money.” And, you know, when he was Treasury Secretary, Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it.

    BILL MOYERS: Even though Goldman Sachs had a big vested stake.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive stake. And even though he had just been CEO of Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn’t be allowed in civilized society.

    BILL MOYERS: Yeah, like a conflict of interest, it seems.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive conflict of interests.

    BILL MOYERS: So, how did he get away with it?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: I don’t know whether we’ve lost our capability of outrage. Or whether the cover up has been so successful that people just don’t have the facts to react to it.

    BILL MOYERS: Who’s going to get the facts?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: We need some chairmen or chairwomen–

    BILL MOYERS: In Congress.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: –in Congress, to hold the necessary hearings. And we can blast this out. But if you leave the failed CEOs in place, it isn’t just that they’re terrible business people, though they are. It isn’t just that they lack integrity, though they do. Because they were engaged in these frauds. But they’re not going to disclose the truth about the assets.

    BILL MOYERS: And we have to know that, in order to know what?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: To know everything. To know who committed the frauds. Whose bonuses we should recover. How much the assets are worth. How much they should be sold for. Is the bank insolvent, such that we should resolve it in this way? It’s the predicate, right? You need to know the facts to make intelligent decisions. And they’re deliberately leaving in place the people that caused the problem, because they don’t want the facts. And this is not new. The Reagan Administration’s central priority, at all times, during the Savings and Loan crisis, was covering up the losses.

    BILL MOYERS: So, you’re saying that people in power, political power, and financial power, act in concert when their own behinds are in the ringer, right?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: That’s right. And it’s particularly a crisis that brings this out, because then the class of the banker says, “You’ve got to keep the information away from the public or everything will collapse. If they understand how bad it is, they’ll run for the exits.”

    BILL MOYERS: Yeah, and this week in New York, at this conference, you described this as more than a financial crisis. You called it a moral crisis.



    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Because it is a fundamental lack of integrity. But also because, if you look back at crises, an economist who is also a presidential appointee, as a regulator in the Savings and Loan industry, right here in New York, Larry White, wrote a book about the Savings and Loan crisis. And he said, you know, one of the most interesting questions is why so few people engaged in fraud? Because objectively, you could have gotten away with it. But only about ten percent of the CEOs, engaged in fraud. So, 90 percent of them were restrained by ethics and integrity. So, far more than law or by F.B.I. agents, it’s our integrity that often prevents the greatest abuses. And what we had in this crisis, instead of the Savings and Loan, is the most elite institutions in America engaging or facilitating fraud.

    BILL MOYERS: This wound that you say has been inflicted on American life. The loss of worker’s income. And security and pensions and future happened, because of the misconduct of a relatively few, very well-heeled people, in very well-decorated corporate suites, right?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Right.

    BILL MOYERS: It was relatively a handful of people.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: And their ideologies, which swept away regulation. So, in the example, regulation means that cheaters don’t prosper. So, instead of being bad for capitalism, it’s what saves capitalism. “Honest purveyors prosper” is what we want. And you need regulation and law enforcement to be able to do this. The tragedy of this crisis is it didn’t need to happen at all.

    BILL MOYERS: When you wake in the middle of the night, thinking about your work, what do you make of that? What do you tell yourself?

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: There’s a saying that we took great comfort in. It’s actually by the Dutch, who were fighting this impossible war for independence against what was then the most powerful nation in the world, Spain. And their motto was, “It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere.”

    Now, going forward, get rid of the people that have caused the problems. That’s a pretty straightforward thing, as well. Why would we keep CEOs and CFOs and other senior officers, that caused the problems? That’s facially nuts. That’s our current system.

    So stop that current system. We’re hiding the losses, instead of trying to find out the real losses. Stop that, because you need good information to make good decisions, right? Follow what works instead of what’s failed. Start appointing people who have records of success, instead of records of failure. That would be another nice place to start. There are lots of things we can do. Even today, as late as it is. Even though they’ve had a terrible start to the administration. They could change, and they could change within weeks. And by the way, the folks who are the better regulators, they paid their taxes. So, you can get them through the vetting process a lot quicker.

    BILL MOYERS: William Black, thank you very much for being with me on the Journal.

    WILLIAM K. BLACK: Thank you so much.

    Jose Semidey
    Mortgage Analysis and Consulting, LLC
    Rescuing the truth in lending !

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  6. When seeking a loan modification. Would it be lawful to first mail a Letter of Intent to Modify Terms of Mortgage to bypass the call center’s and low-level employees and go straight to legal? In this letter I could include a statement to the effect of “If you fail to acknowledge or consider a workout proposal submitted to your company within 7 business days, you will be served with a QWR, Proof of Debt, Proof of Ownership of Title, TILA documents, etc… then have this letter notarized.
    Please advise.
    Thank you.

  7. […] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptFrom Jose Semidey: [Editor’s Note: This is a major item that affects the core of both claims and defenses against the lenders. Any party seeking to foreclose is “admitting” that they are the holder in due course on the note or that they are the authorized agent for the HDC. Inflated appraisals greatly affect the APR and support causes of action for TILA violations and usury. They also increase the likelihood that the loan will go into default and inflate the loan amount and thus the payments. Th […]

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