How You Can Easily Research State Records For Evidence Of Unremediated LPS Robo-Signing Fraud

How You Can Easily Research State Records For Evidence Of Unremediated LPS Robo-Signing Fraud*[1] 

By Eric Mains, Former FDIC Team Leader

Introduction

Many of the banks conducting foreclosures 2008-2013 relied on a few large foreclosure mills to litigate cases for them, and still do. For large banks, it made sense–consolidate your cases with specialized firms employing dozens of attorneys/paralegals, one-stop shop the process. Most of these firms from 2008-2013 used a version of Lender Processing Services (“LPS”) Desktop software program to create needed assignments for claimed holders of loans (Extra stress on the “claimed” part!). Some estimates put LPS’s dominance of the foreclosure software marketplace at 80% of the market during that period. LPS helped banks retain attorneys for foreclosures, and not surprisingly often chose large foreclosure mills to partner with- mills that often times had much in common with the infamous David Stern firm in Florida.

Stern’s firm became infamous for performing foreclosures using robo-signed/ forged documents when parties claiming holder in due course status lacked one inconvenient little thing–proper chain of title backing up their alleged home loans. The Stern law firm was ultimately brought down by its malfeasance after being investigated by the Florida AG’s office and sued successfully in multiple class actions. See http://www.palmbeachpost.com/business/judge-class-action-status-for-homeowner-lawsuit-against-florida-law-firm/cQbMHYSVMFUCZOILofW10K/.

The robo-signing scandal was also brought front and center in modern pop culture when CBS’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine aired an episode on the infamous use of “Linda Green” by an LPS unit as a pseudonym to endorse thousands of invalid note assignments. The episode told the story of Lynn Szymoniak’s successful investigation and qui tam lawsuit exposing the rampant use of robo-signing/forgery by banks and foreclosure mills to pursue illegal foreclosure actions. See https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whistleblower-facing-foreclosure-wins-18-million/ .

 

In 2013 a widely touted Consent Judgment (CJ) by the various State AG’s offices claimed to have resolved LPS’s robo-signing practices, see  http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2013/2013-01-31-lps-settlement.html . The problem became however, if there were 1000’s of these robo-signed documents out there, how exactly did the AG’s offices follow up to confirm the documents were in fact remediated? How did they confirm the robo-signing/forgery by LPS had stopped? This was what the CJ required, and the State AG’s offices were to get quarterly reports from LPS confirming their compliance through January 2018. So why are the State AG’s offices refusing to release copies of these compliance reports to this day?

Why have they never published a list of the names of known robo-signers to be distributed to homeowners or their attorneys? Or released data on how many homeowners received required remediation under the settlement? Strange behavior from the office(s) of AG’s who collected millions under the settlement with LPS, and claimed a “Win” for consumers…or maybe not so strange if they simply failed to do anything TO follow up on the CJ. So what can the average person, or potentially a class action attorney, do to see if LPS actually complied with the CJ and remediated documents BEFORE foreclosing on homeowners, as the CJ required? Below is a basic guide one can use to get started.

 

STEP #1- Identify the Foreclosure Mill Attorney

 

Attorneys in every state are identified by a unique Attorney number (see ex. below). This makes it very easy to track the cases they have handled if your state has an online database. Unfortunately for large foreclosure mills, this also makes it extremely easy to track the specific foreclosure cases their attorney’s have handled because that’s basically the only kind of cases they handled. Alternately, you can do a search by name of bank, name of trust, etc., in most state databases, but the attorney ID number seems to work best when concentrating on one firm. The example I use below is from the State of Indiana, and uses the IN public roll of attorney database, as well as its Odyssey case management system which allows the user to search non-confidential cases. Most states do provide similar such free database systems to the public. The case lists usually go back up to a decade or more.

 

(Example from Indiana website at https://courtapps.in.gov/rollofattorneys )

Indiana Roll of Attorneys

The Roll of Attorneys is the listing of all attorneys licensed to practice law in Indiana. Search for attorneys by name or attorney number. Each attorney’s record includes license status, disciplinary history, contact information, and any other names the attorney has practiced under.

Top of Form

Search for an Indiana attorney:

By Name :

Last Name (required)

First Name

Attorney Number:

  1. 99999-99

Bottom of Form

Results

Kemper , Lawrence Joseph 18029-29 Carmel IN 10-31-1994 Active In Good Standing

 

STEP #1a- Search For Cases the Firm/Attorney Handled.

 

The mortgage foreclosure cases will be marked as such, with all litigation information available when you click on the details. Once you do that, you have party names, filings, home address of the house being foreclosed, etc. So, say you are looking for all foreclosures handled by a foreclosure mill attorney from 2008-2010, or end of 2012 through 2014? Easy to sort out using a database like above, just refine your search fields.

Prepare a list of foreclosure cases filed by your subject attorney/firm. You will want to narrow it down by the relevant dates LPS & its attorneys were required to remediate documents (2008-2010), as well as looking at foreclosures instigated and completed between early to mid-2012 through end of 2013 (or in some cases later). Why? If you later find evidence of robo-signing and backdating post January 2013, this helps establish the foreclosure mill attorneys and LPS directly violated the CJ by moving ahead with a foreclosure using documents they knew violated its terms. With your list of cases, names, etc., you’re ready for Step #3.

https://public.courts.in.gov/mycase/#/vw/Search

Search Results

Attorney Search
Attorney Search
First:
Middle:
Last:
Sounds-like:
Business:
Attorney#:  18029-29
DOB:
Court:
Limit To: Civil
File Date:
Status:
  • List
  • Hide List Details Show List Details
  • Table

1 to 20 of 2449

by File Date, Descending

1 2 3 4 5

JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association v. Glen David Johnson, Glen David Johnson, Any Unknown Occupants et al

49D07-1709-MF-034571

Court

Marion Superior Court, Civil Division 7

Case Type

MF – Mortgage Foreclosure

Filed

09/11/2017

Status

09/11/2017, Pending

Charges

Parties

JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, Johnson, Occupants, Flanagan DDS, IMC Credit Services, LLC, MSW Capital LLC, Unifund CCR Partners Assignee of Palisades Ac…

Attorneys

Tekulve, Kemper, Flatt, Lawrence, Matheis

STEP #2- Locate the Land Record of Interest and Assignments.

Once you have this information, it is a simple matter to locate any recorded assignments in the county recorder’s office. Luckily, this is also available online & automated for your convenience in most states……and cheaply at that!! Using the State of Indiana as an example again, they use a commercial service called Doxpop (FYI, Doxpop handles MI too). Through these services, ANYONE can search for recorded land title records (See below). Average cost to search for, pull up, and print an assignment from home or office? $1-3 per assignment, depending on if you buy a bulk search package or just do single search. You are going to be scanning for any assignment performed just prior to, or during, a foreclosure action. In some cases a corrective assignment may exist, and if so the signature should be that of the actual person authorized to sign for a bank….good to have for later.

https://www.doxpop.com/prod/in/recorder/

 

Wells County Recorded Documents are now available through Doxpop! Details here.

Welcome to Doxpop Recorded Documents

NEW! Looking for full-size preview images of documents? Try our new Unlimited Viewing service, available in participating counties. Watch a demo to learn more.

Doxpop provides access to over 16,804,357 recorded documents from 42 counties in the Doxpop Network. Our information is updated every ten minutes and is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are working every day to bring new counties to our Recorded Document Service.

Learn about our advanced searching options, enhanced results, document details, and document images.

You can use our recorded document search features to find documents by name, details about the document such as the date, and information about the property to which the document refers. These documents include documents deeds, mortgages, and liens. (See a more complete list of document types.) By subscribing to any Doxpop search plan you can access these features, view all details about a document, and purchase, view, and print pages directly from our website.

STEP #3- Time to Start Comparing Sig’s, Date(s), & Notary Cards Against Your Claimed Notary.

Time to start playing “Which signature(s) don’t match?” (both Attorney-in-Fact and Notary), and “Which recording dates don’t make sense?”. You will be comparing signatures of known LPS robo-signers, whose names are easily found on the web… Google “robo-signers & LPS” as a search and you will find a trove of websites listing names. In the alternative, you will find many of them listed in Lynn Szymoniak’s original qui tam lawsuit, also available on the web in PDF.

So what are you looking for?

-Signatures by “Attorneys-in-Fact” on assignments used in a foreclosure case should match one another if made by one person. They shouldn’t be unrecognizable scribble marks in one case, legible in another, non-matching in multiple instances, etc., …common-sense stuff.

-Look at the signatures of the “Notary” on the assignment. Ditto with the above- BUT FURTHER– If they are a registered notary, does their signature match the signature card on file at the registered State agency? (Available by going down in person or requesting such from that county by mail usually).

-If the notary dated the assignment on “XX-XX-XXXX” date, then the assignment would have been sent directly to the county recorder’s office to be recorded afterwards, usually 30 days to protect priority of lien. If there is an unexplained lapse in time from notary signing to recording.. 9 months..years..Why??

Question(s) for attorney’s in a FC case if they performed discovery-

a.) Did the foreclosure mill attorney ever disclose that the documents used and material parties involved in your case included LPS, or the use of the Desktop software platform?

b.) The CJ directly affected the FC mill attorneys because of LPS conduct of interfering in the relationship between FC mill attorneys & their “real” clients (banks, servicers). LPS was found to have virtually taken over the foreclosure process in retaining and directing attorneys as to what to do from 2008-2013. Query- was the attorney effectively able to relay any requests for discovery/production of documents, arbitrate loan modification meetings (required in many states), etc., with the “real”/ supposed note holder, or did LPS interfere with these activities so pervasively as to render them a nullity?

b.) Did the foreclosure mill attorney disclose to you the fact a Consent Judgment had been issued and the documents in your case might be covered by it? Did they point out a toll free number was available for you to contact and request information/lodge complaints?

Remember- it was just such evidence of forgery and backdating, attorney/client interference, etc., that landed Lynn Szymoniak $18M when she filed her qui tam lawsuit…..her suit ultimately leading to the 2013 $125M Multistate Consent Judgment with LPS. What could a good class action attorney do with mass evidence LPS & FC mill attorney’s NEVER remediated robo-signing as required or disclosed material evidence/parties in discovery?….. Love to find out!

The Terms of the 2013 Consent Judgment in Relevant Part

Definitions, section 2.2: “Covered Conduct” shall mean LPS’ practices related to mortgage default servicing, including document creation, preparation, execution, recordation, and notarization practices as they relate to Mortgage Loan Documents as well as LPS’ relationships with attorneys representing the servicers and other third parties through the Effective Date of this Judgment.

Release, section 2.7: “Nothing herein shall be construed as a waiver or release of any private rights, causes of action, or remedies of any person against the Defendants with respect to the Covered Conduct.”  (See above!)

** Important- The Below Was Required of LPS under the CJ

“LPS will undertake a review of documents executed during the period of Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2010 to determine what documents, if any, need to be re-executed or corrected. If LPS is authorized to make the corrections, it will do so and will make periodic reports to the AG’s Office of the status of its review and/or modification of documents.” See, http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2013/2013-01-31-lps-settlement.html

Per section 3.2 of the Consent Judgment, the 48 State AG’s offices are responsible for monitoring LPS compliance with the consent judgment through January 31, 2018. LPS is required to be in compliance with not only the terms of the Consent Judgment, but other mortgage servicing agreements and judgments in force, such as the widely touted National Mortgage Settlement, and is in compliance with the servicing standards of those settlements and other applicable state or federal laws.

Through January 31, 2018, LPS will allow the 48 state AG’s access to non-privileged documents without need for a subpoena or other compulsory process.

Section 6.1 allows the 48 State AG’s the right to reopen investigations into LPS for noncompliance with the CJ.

Section 7.1 allows for the State AG’s to take action for other violations of law, and take any actions necessary to protect the health and safety of the public.

What’s in it for you?

A search of 100 assignments looking for evidence that foreclosures were completed in violation of the CJ using robo-signed or backdated documents may cost as little as $100-$200. Cost to benefit ratio wise, if you are a large class action law firm, and if you have just a 10% hit ratio of questionable documents after searching 500 documents, that’s $500-$1000 spent to get 50 potential clients. Not bad when you look at what happened with David Stern’s firm, and look at the millions of dollars collected it in class actions.

The State AG’s are in a bit of a quandry as noted above, because if mass evidence is unearthed showing a failure to remediate and correct before foreclosing on innocent homeowner in direct violation of the CJ, they will be forced to take action. This would further open up the possibility that mass actions against large foreclosure mills will be settled quickly, unless such firms want to risk being faced with the fate of the late David Stern firm. Not bad for a minimal investment, and a little legwork.

So in closing, and to reiterate, developing a large database of signatures by name, FC mill involved, and date(s) in critical to be able to demonstrate that what the AG’s were supposed to insure happened, unfortunately, did not. The proof required is no different than it was for Lynn Szymoniak back in 2011, and just as basic and generally cheap to find….The only question is whether enough defrauded homeowners, their attorneys, or a class action firm cares to dig…..

[1] *The contents of this paper are not meant as legal advice, but merely a tool to be used by those who may wish to research foreclosure cases, and potentially seek legal advice from a licensed attorney.

Discovery: Your BlackKnight in Shining Armor?

http://www.bkfs.com/RealEC/DivisionInformation/SettlementAgents/ClosingInsightSettlementAgents/Pages/default.aspx

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

Maybe it is time to drill down a little deeper into ways to obtain Discovery. The same company that brought us the DOCX line of “original” fabricated documents has created a software platform used by the mega banks to streamline closings. Closing Insight and its predecessors (I think Chase uses its own version of this platform) could provide information on the real facts of each “closing”. Discovery requests should be directed to access the information on the platform which is now owned and operated by LPS/BlackKnight.

 
Note that most loans over the mortgage meltdown period that are still in existence were refi’s and not original loans. Most lawyers and judges presume that the closing paid off the old loan. But this is often not the case. Since the party on the prior “mortgage” and “note” was simply a conduit, they would not have received a penny from the new closing with the “borrower.” The reason for this is simple: they never had a dime of their own money in the loan nor were they in a contractual relationship with anyone who did have money in the deal. Hence they would not have received any money since the source of both deals was a dynamic dark pool of money where “trust” money was commingled in a way that made it impossible or nearly impossible to trace any specific investor to any specific loan deal.

 
Add all that up and you get (1) a satisfaction of mortgage from a non-mortgagee and (2) no consideration for the signing of the loan documents and (3) withholding that information from the “borrower” who in fact borrowed no money from the “refinance” of his prior “loan.” This means to me that the loan documents should never have been signed or delivered much less recorded. It also means that the current loan documents (and possibly the previous loan documents) are VOID and thus subject to an action for a Quiet Title action.

 
None of this means that there is not some liability for repayment of the party(ies) who DID have money in the deal in which they could plead to get repayment of their money. But two things are true: (1) the statute of limitations has probably run on most of those liabilities and (2) the injured party would need to know they are injured. Since the borrower clearly does not know the identity of the injured party, the borrower cannot be said to be guilty of creating a situation where the debt is diminished or nullified. And since the injured party(ies) don’t even know they are injured, much less how or in relation to what deal, they are prevented from stepping forward to claim their due.

 
Once upon a time such schemes would be cleared up by courts very quickly. Back then they understood that foreclosure was a drastic remedy that should not be taken lightly. But today the erroneous presumption that the borrower received money (presumed even by the borrower) leads courts to bend and break laws, rules and regulations such that any claiming bank or servicer will win regardless of whether they are in fact a creditor and regardless of whether or not they have any actual authority to represent the other victims of this scheme — the investors.

 
PRACTICE NOTE: It is necessary to be very aggressive and very well prepared to argue for discovery on these closings. The Judge arrives with the assumption in mind that what happened back then is none of your business and already established. Potentially an affidavit from a forensic analyst or expert witness might assist in discovery litigation. The problem with waiting on the affidavit or declaration until trial is that the expert can only offer an opinion without corroboration. If discovery has been fought and won, the expert’s opinion will be nearly self-evident. If discovery has been fought and lost, it should provide very strong grounds for appeal.

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