California Attorney Patricia Rodriguez: The Transferring of Servicing Rights to Avoid Reviewing Complete Modification Applications

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The Transferring of Servicing Rights to Avoid Reviewing Complete Modification Applications

The Transferring of Servicing Rights to Avoid Reviewing Complete Modification Applications

The Rodriguez Law Group, Inc

After years of litigating against alleged lenders, investors, servicers, and foreclosure trustee’s we are starting to see a clear trend of the servicing rights being transferred upon receiving a complete loan modification application. What is an alleged lender – this is usually the party that claims to have funded the original loan or the originator. The alleged investors are those who claim to have received an ownership interest in the loan through an assignment and endorsements or multiple assignments and endorsements. The foreclosure trustee in non judicial foreclosure states such as California are entrusted with overseeing the foreclosure process. The servicers are entities that claim a right to collect payments, modify the loan, etc. as agents of the principals (lender or investor). The servicer’s through an agreement with these other entities claim to have the right to enforce the note on behalf of the principal (lender or investor).

The servicer can start as one entity in the Deed of Trust and be changed by a simple letter from the original servicer to the borrower advising them that there is a new servicer. The borrower typically has agreed to such in the Deed of Trust. It is generally this servicer that the borrower or the borrower’s representative is negotiating with in order to conduct a short sale, short pay, cash for keys settlement, reinstatement, forbearance, and/or modification. The servicer could stay the same the life of the loan or switch anywhere from 1 to 10 times.

Each time the servicer changes the new servicer is obligated to credit the borrower’s account with all prior payments, honor any pending offers (for a short sale, short pay, settlement, reinstatement, forbearance, and/or modification), and continue to review any pending complete applications for a short sale, short pay, etc. However, many times this is why servicer changes are made so that the new servicer can claim they will not honor an offer to short sale, short pay, etc. or to state that the new servicer never received the complete package.

The above scenario will at most times be actionable; meaning this is something that is a cause of action. There is an obligation on the part of the new servicer to honor offers and pending complete applications otherwise, it is a breach of contract, among other claims. In addition, to there being an obligation on the part of the servicer to honor offers and pending complete applications you need to make sure that their failure to do such caused you or the party you are representing harm (damages).

MAKING HOMES AFFORDABLE – HAMP & HARP ARE GONE

Making homes affordable is an official program of the United States Department of Treasury and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. HAMP and HARP were government funded programs in existence until December 31, 2016. As of December 31, 2016, the programs no longer exist as there was a sunset statute. These two programs were designed to help struggling borrower’s who could no longer afford their mortgages to modify their loan under specific government guidelines. Now that these government programs have ended that does not mean modifications will end.

As far as the consumer financial protection bureau (CFPB) and Mark Mc Ardle, deputy secretary for the Office of Financial Stability is concerned ‘the economy is still not back on track and may take much more time while many homeowners are struggling, they still are having a difficult time making  their mortgage payments. The CFPB has issued non-binding guidelines based on proven principles and protocols. Based on NPV (net present value); with this foundation the CFPB has stated principle goals for financial institutions to follow when dealing with at- risk homeowners including affordability, accessibility, sustainability and transparency.  The overall goal is to prevent “avoidable foreclosures” and offer a win-win situation for investors and homeowners.  ~ David Smith

There are still government sponsored programs as well to help struggling homeowners such as the hardest hit funds that reaches eighteen states. It is Keeping Your Home California for the state of California and offers funds to help with a portion of the arrears for reinstatement or modification. Additionally, the Making Homes Affordable website still has a vast amount of information contained on it; especially, if you are already in a HAMP trial or permanent modification.

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If you are in California and are looking for help with foreclosure, call The Rodriguez Law Group, Inc  at 626-888-5206 or fill out their online form for a FREE Case Evaluation. Let the lawyers and staff at The Rodriguez Law Group, Inc serve you!

For more information on Foreclosure Fraud News visit: http://4closurefraud.org/2017/03/08/the-transferring-of-servicing-rights-to-avoid-reviewing-complete-modification-applications/

The End of Make Home Affordable aka the Modification Hell Act

The End of MHA

The Making Home Affordable (MHA) program did what it intended to do- it Greased the Runways so unsuspecting homeowners operating in good faith would be forced into default. The final Program Performance Report Through The Fourth Quarter of 2016, includes the last results as all MHA programs ended on December 31.  The report details the “improvements” made since 2009 when MHA was implemented and assesses the pathetic quality of certain servicers.  Although delinquencies and foreclosures have dropped moderately since its inception, the oversight of servicers provided by MHA programs brought little  improvement because of this policy that was created by the Fed to benefit the banks.

According to the report, since 2009, delinquencies have dropped from 6.1 million to 2.7 million. Over 3 million homeowners were underwater as of December 31, a drop from 10.2 million in 2009. And as of December 31, foreclosures starts are at 59.7 thousand, a difference of slightly over 76 percent of 2009’s 250.6 thousand.

MHA violated millions of homeowners while assisting only a pathetic 2.8 million homeowners during its time.  MHA was designed to implement five guiding principles:

  • Improving accessibility to foreclosure alternative programs for homeowners experiencing hardship
  • Providing payment relief that meets the needs of homeowners based on their hardship
  • Becoming sustainable through solutions designed to resolve delinquency and improve effectiveness long-term
  • Being transparent by ensuring that the processes are clear and understandable by all parties
  • Holding itself accountable by ensuring the appropriate level of oversight

The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) failed on all accounts to deliver.  Launched in Spring 2009, began a total of 2,511,344 trial loan modifications and 1,683,112 permanent modifications.  Many modification worthy homeowners were denied modifications due to the sabotage by servicers who stood to make significantly more money if they could engineer a foreclosure by deliberately providing disinformation to the vulnerable homeowner.  MHA’s Q4 results note that homeowners who remain in HAMP without defaulting are less likely to default (who came up with this brilliant conclusion?).

Many homeowners in delinquency who were not eligible for HAMP assistance found alternative solutions. 58 percent of those not eligible obtained alternative modification or otherwise resolved their delinquency and yet the homeowners who received modifications, received a modification from a servicer who had no authority to modify in the first place.

In addition to offering programs such as HAMP, MHA has compiled data on servicers so in theory, they may better address the needs of homeowners (right). The MHA Servicer Assessment results for Q4 2016 show which major servicers require improvement (all of them), and whether the needed improvement is slight, or substantial. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ocwen, Select Portfolio Servicing, and Wells Fargo were reported by MHA as only requiring minor improvement, and CitiMortgage is reported as requiring moderate improvement. However, MHA reports the need for substantial improvement at Nationstar Mortgage. MHA’s results found a 4 percent rate of income calculation errors within Nationstar mortgage, bringing the servicer’s score down.

The Hardest Hit Fund dealt with state-by-state problems in the housing crisis, rather than the nationwide programs from MHA. HHF programs interact with MHA programs and have assisted more than 292,000 homeowners as of December 31. HHF programs did not end on December 31 but have been extended through 2020.

Read the full report here and weep.

Fannie and Freddie Launch Flex Modification Program: No Paperwork Required in Some Cases

By the Lending Lies Team

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have launched a new loan modification program for troubled mortgages known as “Flex Modification.”  The GSE’s have an issue with rising defaults and questionable paperwork and the Flex Modification allows them to modify the underlying defective “loan” and gloss over the false endorsements, assignments and chain of title issues.  Brilliant!

The new flexible loss mitigation tool is a combination of the impotent HAMP,  the Standard Modification, and the Streamlined Modification, and will replace the trio as early as March 2017.

Loan servicers are beginning to implement the Flex Modification at that time, but will be required to participate starting October 1st, 2017.

The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) expired at the end of December.

How the Flex Modification Works

It is obvious that Fannie and Freddie are attempting to lure as many homeowners in or near default inot the Flex Modification program.  Unlike the original HAMP modifications that required burdensome amounts of paperwork (that was intentionally lost), the required borrower documentation needed to get a loan modification under this new program is surprisingly minimal.

A major problem with HAMP was the complicated paperwork and long, drawn out processes.  Not to mention that loan servicers who had little incentive to modify a loan when they could foreclose, typically threw the homeowner’s application into the trash.

HAMP has been revised to make it easier for borrowers to get relief, and it appears those lessons have been applied to the new Flex Modification, at least in theory.  However, the reality is that a servicer who illegally forecloses on a home receives a financial windfall, compared to a paltry fee for modifying.

Fannie and Freddie claim that the Flex Modification will aim to lower monthly housing payments to help at-risk, delinquent borrowers avoid foreclosure.

Those who are less than 90 days behind on their mortgage must submit a Borrower Response Package (BRP) in order to be evaluated for a Flex Modification, which will target a 20% monthly payment reduction and a 40% Housing Expense-to-Income (HTI) Ratio.  Why such aggressive measures when the previous HAMP program would rarely reduce principal or monthly payments?  The GSE’s have always been hostile to homeowners wishing to modify preferring to foreclose.  Less than 40% of all applicants were given loan modifications.

Freddie Mac noted that a “high percentage” of those at least 60 days delinquent would be eligible, and in some cases it could also be an option for those who are current on the mortgage or less than 60 days late.

However, that latter group would need to occupy their homes in order to get relief.

For those more than 90+ days delinquent, the program targets the same 20% payment reduction, but requires no “borrower documentation.”

Likely this program will be used to grease the runways, as Timothy Geitner of the Fed admitted back in 2008 when HAMP was devised.   It appears that the GSEs know they have MAJOR issues with the underlying loans they guarantee and they are resorting to issuing modifications to wipe the slate clean.  I predict that there is language in the agreement that states the homeowner will not sue their servicer or the GSE’s once the loan is modified.  The GSEs, Fed and OCC are not benevolent entities- they are cold, calculating bankers where profit is all that matters.

In other words, they realize you’re in imminent danger of foreclosure and that they have major legal liabilities so they’re going to make it easy for you to get assistance.   Without knowing more about the program I can already tell it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Perhaps this program will actually provide relief by lowering monthly mortgage payments.  It is likely that borrowers will be incentivized to hit the 90 day plus delinquent status to take advantage of the easier modification option also.  Not that it matters because the entire program appears to be created to “fix” loans that are damaged beyond repair.

It is interesting that many loan servicers are exiting the market while the GSEs are attempting to paper over their fraudulent history.  There are unseen forces in the background that are influencing change.  It appears that servicers and faux lenders are running scared or do they know something we don’t?

In any case, the program will also allow for principal forbearance to an 80% mark-to-market loan-to-value ratio (MTMLTV), but this amount must not exceed 30% of the unpaid principal balance.

Some key changes from the Standard Modification include:

• Housing-to-income ratio for borrowers less than 90 days delinquent changed from less than/equal to 55% to 40%
• No amortization choice for borrowers with an MTMLTV ratio of less than 80%
• Must now forbear principal down to a 100% MTMLTV ratio rather than the prior 115%

Flex Modification Eligibility

– Mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (GSEs do not own loans)
– Must be 60 or more days delinquent unless owner-occupied and in imminent default
– Must submit a Borrower Response Package (will the servicer actually process the package when they have more incentive to foreclose than modify?)
– Must have an eligible hardship
– Must verify income
– Must have been originated 12 months prior to evaluation date
– Must target a 20% principal and interest payment reduction and 40% front-end DTI
*If 90 days+ delinquent, a Borrower Response Package is not required, and servicer is not required to confirm a borrower’s hardship or income.

Ineligible for Flex Modification

– FHA, VA, and USDA loans
– Mortgages subject to recourse
– Mortgages secured by second homes or investment properties less than 60 days late
– Mortgages that have been modified three or more times previously
– Mortgages approved for a short sale or deed-in-lieu
– Mortgages under a different modification program
– Mortgages that don’t make it through the trial period or aren’t brought current

CHASE FALSE CLAIMS COMPLAINT REVEALED IN INVESTOR LAWSUIT

This lawsuit reveals a reason for Chase slipping in a new servicer into the chain. Having already discharged or released a loan, the “accounts” were nonetheless transferred or sold in derogation of the rights of investors who had already purchased them from Chase.

Chase decreased its liabilities, increased its revenues, avoided its obligations, and provided little to no relief to consumers.

all loan modification programs must be made available to all borrowers, who may then apply to determine eligibility. Hundreds of thousands of borrowers’ accounts, in the RCV1 system of records, were not considered for all eligible loss mitigation options (even though they could likely have qualified).

Hundreds of thousands of borrowers’ mortgage loan accounts in the RCV1 system of records were not offered and thereby unable to be considered for all eligible loss mitigation options (even though they likely could have qualified)

numerous borrowers, whose 1st mortgages had been sold by Chase to the Relator, had their 1st mortgages liens quietly released.

The Program Guidelines pursuant to the Treasury Directives are cataloged in the MHA Handbook (“Handbook”).

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE
STATES OF CALIFORNIA,
DELAWARE, FLORIDA, GEORGIA,
HAWAII, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA,
MASSACHUSETTS, MINNESOTA,
MONTANA, NEVADA, NEW
HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW
MEXICO, NEW YORK, NORTH
CAROLINA, RHODE ISLAND,
TENNESSEE, VIRGINIA, AND THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.,

Plaintiffs,

Ex rel. LAURENCE SCHNEIDER,
Plaintiff-Relator,

v.

J.P. MORGAN CHASE BANK,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, J.P.
MORGAN CHASE & COMPANY; AND
CHASE HOME FINANCE LLC,
Defendants.

Case. No. 1:14-cv-01047-RMC

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer

SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

<excerpt>

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Defendant’s Fraud

3. Defendant Chase’s fraud arises out of its response to efforts by the United States Government (“Government” or “Federal Government”) and the States (the “States”)1 to remedy the misconduct of Chase and other financial institutions whose actions significantly contributed
to the consumer housing crisis.

4. Defendant’s misconduct resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.

Each of the allegations regarding Defendant contained herein applies to instances in which one or more, and in some cases all, of the defendants engaged in the conduct alleged.

5. In March 2012, after a lengthy investigation (in part due to other qui tam
plaintiffs) under the Federal False Claims Act, the Government, along with the States, filed a complaint against Chase and the other banks responsible for the fraudulent and unfair mortgage practices that cost consumers, the Federal Government, and the States tens of billions of dollars. Specifically, the Government alleged that Chase, as well as other financial institutions, engaged in improper practices related to mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, and foreclosures, including, but not limited to, irresponsible and inadequate oversight of the banks’ quality control standards.

6. These improper practices had previously been the focus of several administrative enforcement actions by various government agencies, including but not limited to, the Office of the Controller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Bank and others. Those enforcement actions
resulted in various other Consent Orders that are still in full force and effect.

7. In April 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia approved a settlement between the Federal Government, the States, the Defendant and four other banks, which resulted in the NMSA. The operative document of this agreement was the Consent Judgment (“Consent Judgment” or “Agreement”). The Consent Judgment contains, among other things, Consumer Relief provisions. The Consumer Relief provisions required Chase to provide over $4 billion in consumer relief to their borrowers. This relief was to be in the form of, among other things, loan forgiveness and refinancing. Under the Consent Judgment, Chase received “credits” towards its Consumer Relief obligations by forgiving or modifying loans it maintained as a result of complying with the procedures and requirements contained in Exhibits D and D-1 of the Consent Judgment.

8. The Consent Judgment also contains Servicing Standards in Exhibit A that were intended to be used as a basis for granting Consumer Relief. The Servicing Standards were tested through various established “Metrics” and were designed to improve upon the lack of quality control and communication with borrowers. Compliance was overseen by an
independent Monitor.

9. The operational framework for the Servicing Standards and Consumer Relief requirements of the NMSA was based on a series of Treasury Directives that were themselves designed as part of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program. The MHA program was a critical part of the Government’s broad strategy to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, stabilize the country’s housing market, and improve the nation’s economy by setting uniform and industry-wide default servicing protocols, policies and procedures for the distribution of federal and proprietary loan modification programs.

10. Before the Consent Judgment was entered into, Chase sold a significant amount of its mortgage obligations to individual investors. Between 2006 and 2010, the Relator bought the rights to thousands of mortgages owned and serviced by Chase. Unbeknownst to the Relator, these mortgages were saturated with violations of past and present regulations, statutes and other governmental requirements for first and second federally related home mortgage loans.

11. After both the Consent Judgment was signed and the MHA program was in effect, numerous borrowers, whose 2nd lien mortgages had been sold by Chase to the Relator, received debt-forgiveness letters from Chase that were purportedly sent pursuant to the Consent Judgment.

12. Relator, through his contacts at Chase, was made aware that 33,456 letters were sent by Chase on September 13, 2012 to second-lien borrowers. On December 13, 2012 another approximately 10,000 letters were sent, and on January 31, 2013 another approximately 8,000 letters were sent, for a total of over 50,000 debt-forgiveness letters. These letters represented to the recipient borrowers that, pursuant to the terms of the NMSA, the borrowers were discharged from their obligations to make further payments on their mortgages, which Chase stated, it had
forgiven as a “result of a recent mortgage servicing settlement reached with the states and federal government.” None of these borrowers made an application for a loan modification as required by the Consent Judgment. These letters were not individually reviewed by Chase to ensure that Chase actually owned the mortgages or to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the borrower’s information but instead were “robo-signed”; each of the letters sent out was signed by “Patrick
Boyle” who identified himself as a Vice President at Chase.

13. Relator’s experience with Chase’s baseless debt-forgiveness letters was not unique. Several other investors were also affected by Chase choosing to mass mail the “robo-signed” debt-forgiveness letters to thousands of consumers from its system of records in order to earn credits under the terms of the Consent Judgment and to avoid detection of its illegal and
discriminatory loan servicing policies and procedures.

14. In addition to the debt forgiveness letters sent, and after both the Consent Judgment was signed and the MHA program was in effect, numerous borrowers, whose 1st mortgages had been sold by Chase to the Relator, had their 1st mortgages liens quietly released.

15. Relator, through his third party servicer, which was handling normal and customary default mortgage servicing activities, was made aware that several lien releases were filed in the public records on mortgage loans that were owned by Relator in the fall of 2013. Through Relator’s subsequent investigation of the property records for 1st mortgage loans that Chase had previously sold to Relator, scores of additional lien releases were also discovered.

16. During the course of Relator’s investigation of Chase’s servicing practices, he discovered that Chase maintains a large set of loans outside of its primary System of Records (“SOR”), which is known as the Recovery One population (“RCV1” or “RCV1 SOR”). RCV1 was described to the Monitor by Chase as an “application” for loans that had been charged off
but still part of its main SOR. However, once loans had been charged off by Chase, the accuracy and integrity of the information pertaining to the borrowers’ accounts whose loans became part of the RCV1 population was and is fatally and irreparably flawed. Furthermore, the loans in the
RCV1 were not serviced according to the requirements of Federal law, the Consent Judgment, the MHA programs or any of the other consent orders or settlements reached by Chase with any government agency prior to the NMSA.2

17. Chase’s practice of sending unsolicited debt-forgiveness letters to intentionally pre-selected borrowers of valueless loans did not meet the Servicing Standards set out in the Consent Judgment to establish eligibility for credits toward its Consumer Relief obligations. This practice enabled Chase to reduce its cost of complying with the Consent Judgment and MHA program, while at the same time enhancing its own profits through unearned Consumer Relief credits and MHA incentives. Chase sought to take credit for valueless charged-off and third-party owned loans instead of applying the Consumer Relief under the NMSA and MHA2 By letter dated September 16, 2015 to Schneider’s counsel, in reference to Relator’s claim that “Chase concealed from the Monitor and MHA-C both the existence of the RCV1 charged-off and the way those loans were treated for purposes of HAMP solicitations and NMS metrics
testing”, Chase’s counsel stated that “Those allegations are wholly incorrect. Chase repeatedly disclosed the relevant facts to both the Monitor and MHA-C.”

Schneider’s counsel requested that Chase provide all documents demonstrating the “relevant facts” to support Chase’s statement. Chase has refused to provide said documents, citing Chase‘s concerns with providing documents that it had previously provided to the U.S.
Government. While Chase has offered to allow Chase’s counsel to read such documents “verbatim” to Schneider’s counsel, Schneider knows of no supportable reason why documents previously disclosed to the U.S. Government should not be shared with Schneider in his capacity
as a Relator under the FCA. No privilege exists for such a claim and therefore Schneider has rejected this limitation. Such documents, if they in fact exist, should be produced before such a defense can be raised, particularly because Chase’s counsel has raised the issue of Rule 11
responsibilities.

18. The Servicing Standards and the Consumer Relief Requirements of the Consent Judgment are set forth in Exhibits A and D of that document. The Consent Judgment is governed by the underlying Servicer Participation Agreements of the MHA program, which required mandatory compliance with the Treasury Directives under the MHA Handbook (“Handbook”). Chase is required to demonstrate compliance with the Handbook’s guidelines in the form of periodic certifications to the government. Chase ignored the requirements of Exhibits A and D of the Consent Judgment, especially with respect to the RCV1 population of loans. Therefore, Chase has been unable to service with any accuracy the charged-off loans it
owns and to segregate those loans that it no longer owns. As such, any certifications of compliance with the Consent Judgment or the Services Participation Agreement (“SPA”) are false claims.

19. Relator conducted his own investigations and found that the Defendants sent loan forgiveness letters to consumers for mortgages that Chase no longer owns or that were not eligible for forgiveness credit. Further, Chase continues to fail to meet its obligations to service
loans and to prevent blight as required by both the Consent Judgment and SPA. Chase’s intentional failure to monitor, report and/or service these loans, and its issuance of invalid loan forgiveness letters and lien releases, evidence an attempt to thwart the goal of the Consent Judgment and the MHA program. The purpose of this scheme was to quickly satisfy the
Defendant’s Consumer Relief obligations as cheaply as possible, without actually providing the relief that Chase promised in exchange for the settlement that Chase reached with the Federal Government and the States. In addition, Chase applied for and received MHA incentive
payments without complying with the MHA mandatory requirements. In short, Chase decreased its liabilities, increased its revenues, avoided its obligations, and provided little to no relief to consumers.

20. The mere existence of RCV1 makes all claims by Chase that it complied with the Servicing Standards and the Consumer Relief Requirements of the Consent Judgment false. Likewise, the existence of RCV1 makes all claims by Chase that it complied with the SPA of the MHA program false.

B. Damages to the Government Related to the NMSA

21. Exhibit E of the Consent Judgment provides for penalties of up to $5 million for failure to meet a prescribed Metric of the Servicing Standards. Exhibit E, ¶ J.3(b) at E15.

22. Exhibit D of the Consent Judgment provides:

If Servicer fails to meet the commitment set forth in these Consumer Relief Requirements within three years of the Servicer’s Start Date, Servicer shall pay an amount equal to 125% of the unmet commitment amount, except that if Servicer fails to meet the two year commitment noted above, and then fails to meet the three year commitment, the Servicer shall pay an amount equal to 140% of the unmet three-year Commitment amount.

Exhibit D, ¶10.d. at D-11.

23. The required payment set out in Exhibit D, ¶10.d is made either to the United States or the States that are parties to the Consent Judgment. Fifty percent of any payment is distributed to the United States. Consent Judgment, Exhibit E, ¶ J.c.(3)c. at E-16.

24. As explained in more detail below, Chase was required to certify that it was in compliance with the Servicing Standards and the Consumer Relief Requirements. Many, if not all, of the loans that Chase identified for credits against the $4 billion Consumer Relief provisions were not eligible for the credit, because Chase did not comply with the Servicing
Standards or the Consumer Relief Requirements. Specifically, all loan modification programs must be made available to all borrowers, who may then apply to determine eligibility. Hundreds of thousands of borrowers’ accounts, in the RCV1 system of records, were not considered for all eligible loss mitigation options (even though they could likely have qualified). Due to this omission none of the loan modification programs qualified for Consumer Relief Credit. Thus,
Chase did not and does not qualify for any of the Consumer Relief Credit for which it applied.

25. For these reasons, each of Chase’s certifications to the Federal Government of compliance represents a “reverse” false claim to avoid paying money to the Government.

26. Under the FCA a person is liable for penalties and damages who: [k]nowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or
statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(G).

27. Under the FCA, “the term ‘obligation’ means an established duty, whether or not fixed, arising from an express or implied contractual, grantor-grantee, or licensor-licensee relationship, from a fee-based or similar relationship, from statute or regulation, or from the retention of any overpayment.” 31 U.S.C. § 3729(b)(3).

28. Thus, under the FCA, Chase is liable for its false claims whether or not the government fixed the amount of the obligation owed by Chase.

29. Under the FCA, “the term ‘material’ means having a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of money or property.” U.S.C. § 3729(b)(3).

30. Under the “natural tendency” test Chase is liable for its false statements so long as they reasonably could have influenced the government’s payment or collection of money. A statement is false if it is capable of influencing the government’s funding decision, not whether it
actually influenced the government.

31. Each of Chase’s false certifications is actionable under 31 U.S.C. §
3729(a)(1)(G), because they represent a false record or statement that concealed, avoided or decreased an obligation to transmit money to the Government.

32. The Federal Government and the States agreed to the NMSA with Chase, with the understanding that Chase would meet its obligations under the Consent Judgment.

33. As set out in the Consumer Relief Requirements, the measure of the Federal and State Governments’ damages is up to 140 percent of the credits that Chase falsely claimed met the requirements of the Consent Judgment and up to $5 million for each Metric the Chase failed
to meet.

34. These damages are recoverable under the Federal Civil False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. (the “FCA”), and similar provisions of the State False Claims Acts of the States of California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
Rhode Island, Tennessee, the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

35. The Federal Government and the States are now harmed because they are not receiving the benefit of the bargain for which they negotiated with Chase due to the false claims for credit that have been made by the Defendant.

C. Damages to the Government Related to the HAMP

36. The Amended and Restated Commitment to Purchase Financial Instrument and Servicer Participation Agreement between the United States Government and Chase provided for the implementation of loan modification and foreclosure prevention services (“HAMP
Services”).

37. The value of Chase’s SPA was limited to $4,532,750,000 (“Program Participation Cap”).

38. The value of EMC Mortgage Corporation’s (“EMC”) SPA (Chase is successor in interest) was limited to $1,237,510,000.

39. As explained in more detail below, Chase must certify that it is in compliance with the SPA and the MHA program and must strictly adhere to the guidelines and procedures issued by the Treasury with respect to the programs outlined in the Service Schedules (“Program Guidelines”). The Program Guidelines pursuant to the Treasury Directives are cataloged in the MHA Handbook (“Handbook”). None of the loans that Chase and EMC identified and submitted for payment against their respective Participation Caps were eligible for the incentive payment, because neither Chase nor EMC complied with the SPA and Handbook guidelines. Specifically, all loan modification programs must be made available to all borrowers, who must then apply to determine eligibility. Hundreds of thousands of borrowers’ mortgage loan accounts in the RCV1 system of records were not offered and thereby unable to be considered for all eligible loss mitigation options (even though they likely could have qualified). Due to the omission of the RCV1 population for any loss mitigation options, none of the modifications that Chase provided qualified for HAMP incentives. Thus, Chase does not qualify for any of the
HAMP incentives for which it applied and received funds.
40. Therefore, Chase’s certifications of compliance and its creation of records to support those certifications represent both the knowing presentation of false or fraudulent claims for a payment and the knowing use of false records material to false or fraudulent claims.

41. Under the FCA, a person is liable for penalties and damages who:

(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval; 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(A)
and
(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or
statement material to a false or fraudulent claim. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(G).

42. Each of Chase’s false certifications is actionable under either 31 U.S.C. §3729(a)(1)(A) and (B), because they represent a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval of a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim.
43. Under HAMP, the Federal Government entered into the Commitment with Chase, with the understanding that Chase would meet its obligations under the SPA and related Treasury directives. The Federal Government is now harmed because it is not receiving the benefit of the bargain for which it negotiated with Chase due to the false claims for payment that have been made by the Defendant.

Modification Abuse: Ocwen, Homeward Dishonest in Handling Modifications

The incentive payments from the Federal government for HAMP modifications were merely used for profit, bonuses and the like. No attention was paid to HAMP modifications except in rare instances where the banks thought it prudent to at least make it appear as though they were following HAMP guidelines when they clearly had no interest in doing so.

Most Judges are still basing their mindset that the loans are valid and that the interests of the servicer are just like any other “bank.” Not so much.

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

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see http://4closurefraud.org/2016/06/10/united-states-of-america-et-al-v-ocwen-judge-rules-docs-admissible-in-hamp-false-claims-act-case/

I have written about this before. But now there are 2 qui tam actions in Texas against Ocwen and Homeward. Both are governed by the rules of HAMP modifications, neither complied, and they both did so intentionally. The same holds true for most other servicers. Ocwen tried to escape the civil action by saying that the information used by the whistle-blowers was “inadvertently” disclosed and should not be allowed as evidence nor as a basis for the qui tam lawsuit. The Texas Judge rued against Ocwen citing a statute that explicitly stated that such material can be disclosed and released.

The real question, as I have repeatedly suggested, is why would the nation’s largest servicers accept billions in incentive fees from the US Government while at the same time abusing the modification process? In the real world of real banking, workouts were always the rule rather than foreclosures. All seminars I have ever attended for bank lawyers (yes, I was one of those for a while) involving bankruptcy, deficiency and defaults, start out and maintain one basic theme: workouts wherever possible. The reason? The bank does far better in workouts than in foreclosure. Most Judges are still basing their mindset that the loans are valid and that the interests of the servicer are just like any other “bank.” Not so much.

So why all the obfuscation about modifications? If you just think about it logically there are several things that come to mind. First, the servicers are only incentivized to bring cases to a “successful” conclusion which is a forced sale of the property backed up by a Final Judgment in judicial states. The basic assumption today is that the servicers are representing the investors through the pass through entity described as a REMIC Trust. Setting aside the issue of whether that assertion is even true as to form or substance, it is obvious that the push to foreclosure was adverse to the interests of the investors and adverse to other entities that had bought or sold derivative products whose value derived from the value of the performing loans in a specified pool (which probably didn’t ever exist).

If the services are acting adverse to the interests of investors, then who are they working for? The Trust exists only on paper, was never funded, never had a bank account or any active business even for the window described in the “Trust” documents or the IRC provisions allowing for REMIC Trusts. That eliminates the Trust as the party for whom the servicers are working. And the assertion that the Trust is only a holder and NOT a holder in due course corroborates the fact that there was no purchase by the Trust.

So the servicers are NOT working for the people whose money was used to fund the illusion of a securitization scheme and they were NOT working for the special purpose vehicle (REMIC Trust). If you drill down into the prospectuses and the trust document (the PSA) you will see that the designated servicer is often the Master Servicer or the Master Servicer is described deep inside the document. The Master Servicer is the one who supposedly is making servicer advance payments to investors, except they are not advancing those payments; instead they are using investor money from a reserve described in the documents, from which, the investors agree, the servicer can advance payments in order to keep the mortgage bond “performing.” Hence servicer advances are neither advances (they are return of capital to investors) nor are they payments by the servicer (who makes “payments” from the reserve of investors funds).

So you can see the incentive. If the case goes all the way through foreclosure, the “Master Servicer” can claim recovery of servicer advances at the time of liquidation of the property, but if the loan is modified, the servicer can not claim recovery of servicer advances. Most cases in which the banks have let the case go 6-8-10 years is that they were piling up their claim for servicer advances.

And the other incentive that is major is that by refusing HAMP modification and offering “in-house” modifications, they are essentially make the “loan” an asset of the bank rather than the investors. The incentive payments from the Federal government for HAMP modifications were merely used for profit, bonuses and the like. No attention was paid to HAMP modifications except in rare instances where the banks thought it prudent to at least make it appear as though they were following HAMP guidelines when they clearly had no interest in doing so.

None of this would be possible were it not for the ignorance of investors. Both investors and Trustees are contractually barred from even making inquiry “for their own good and protection.” This provision, in virtually all securitization documentation, was one of the large red flags for fund managers who peeked under the hood at this scheme. The idea that they could get no information on the loan portfolio when that was supposed to be the only asset or business of the Trust, was ludicrous and they didn’t invest.

But most fund managers go with the crowd and are lazy. Having the incentive of bonuses if they achieve certain performance levels, and having their asses covered by what appeared to be insurance that was backed up by American tax payers, and the mortgage backed securities being rated AAA by the rating agencies PLUS the representations of the underwriting bank and the seller of those mortgage “bonds,”  these find managers of stable managed funds (the investors) gave money to the underwriter in exchange for worthless securities issued by a completely inactive entity. They got nothing and they were contractually barred from learning they got nothing. It was the perfect cover for the perfect crime and the banks, so far, got away with it.

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SIGTARP HAMP FINDINGS: SERVICERS REVOKING COMPLIANT HAMP PLANS

Why are modifications being undermined when they would so obviously preserve the value of the “loan?” The answer is because the real party in interest in the foreclosures is the servicer, not the trust, which doesn’t own the loan anyway, nor even the investor/beneficiaries, who reap very little out of the proceeds of foreclosure.

The servicer wants the loan to fail. The investor expects the servicer and trustee of the REMIC trust to make sure value is preserved. But that isn’t the game. If the property goes to foreclosure sale then the “servicer” can make its claim for “recovery” of “servicer advances.” The fact that “servicer advances” are made from a pool of funds established by investor money and the fact that the servicer accesses these funds to make payments, regardless of whether the borrower pays or not — all of that makes no difference in the game.

In that context a modified loan is worthless. A failed loan is the gold standard.

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HAMP Modifications Sabotaged to Fail by the Usual Suspects

By William Hudson

https://www.sigtarp.gov/Audit%20Reports/Homeowners_Wrongfully_Terminated_Out_of_HAMP.pdf

On January 27, 2016 The Special Inspector General over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) released data on the poorly executed and enforced Home Affordable Mortgage Program (“HAMP”) that shows that the banks not only have the right to modify loans they don’t own, but have no interest in helping homeowners save their homes through modification when they can set the homeowner up to fail.

HAMP was created to provide sustainable and affordable mortgage assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure but has instead forced many homeowners into foreclosure by requiring homeowners to miss payments, revoking approved modifications and a slew of other unethical practices.

The Inspector General writes that, “mortgage servicers administering HAMP will continue to need strict oversight in upcoming years because apparently the servicers are unable to implement and properly administer the program without resorting to sabotaging compliant homeowners.”

The audit notes that  the “largest seven mortgage servicers in HAMP over the most recent four quarters show disturbing and what should be unacceptable results, as 6 of 7 of the mortgage servicers had wrongfully terminated homeowners who were in “good standing”  with their HAMP modifications.”

These failure rates demonstrate that servicer misconduct is continuing to contribute to homeowners falling out of HAMP by terminating the agreement when homeowners are making timely payments.  This practice is an obvious attempt to put homeowners at risk of losing their home so that when the foreclosure occurs, the servicer can swoop in and steal the home while keeping all of the homeowner’s equity, payments and improvements.

This study provides further documentation that homeowners are being forced out of the HAMP program for no reason and that servicers are using HAMP as another tool to steal homes.  If the servicer can keep the homeowner in a state of vulnerability, create further arrearages and provide the homeowner contradictory and confusing information- their chances of taking back the home increase exponentially. This is the modification business model of the major loan servicers.

The servicers are running the show and the government is apparently impotent to stop them from their illegal tactics. The treasury admits that they have no idea how many other homeowners were forced out of HAMP.  I can attest that I was one of the homeowners forced out of a loan modification in which I was 100% compliant. For a year I repeatedly applied for modifications, sending in documentation and spending hours and hours going through CitiMortgage’s futile application process.  Either CitiMortgage representatives are completely incompetent or their modification process is intentionally set-up to create such a diabolical application process that most borrowers give up.

Thirteen applications later and a year later I was granted an “approved repayment plan” that required three timely payments before becoming permanent.  If all three payments were made  by the first of each month I would be given a permanent modification with no need for further qualification.  After making the third timely payment by certified mail I didn’t hear back from CitiMortgage. By then I was familiar with their lack of competence and accountability so I continued to make payments hoping I would hear from them any day.

When I received the “approved repayment plan” I celebrated thinking that I was finally free from seven years of servicer torment.  The modification would allow me to immediately sell the home in which I had several buyers- and make Citi 100% whole including being paid over 15k in fees they had assessed.  At the time I received the loan modification I had over 100k in equity.  I would have paid CitiMortgage any amount they claimed I owed to be free of their tyrannical servicing practices.

Not trusting CitiMortgage to honor their word- I called CitiMortgage and once again confirmed that “approved” meant “approved” and that I could prepare the home for sale. The CitiMortgage agent promised me that as long as all three payments were made it was a done deal.  I didn’t want any surprises down the road if they changed their minds.  The home needed some updating prior to being placed on the market so I took 35k from my retirement account and went to work renovating the home top to bottom.  By the time my third payment was made I had a beautifully restored home and two anxious buyers for the property.  I was close to grasping the golden ring…..until CitiMortgage grasped the ring right out of my hands.

When I didn’t hear from Citimortgage I continued to make the modification payments for three more months while waiting to hear from them about the new loan terms. Unbeknownst to me the modification payments I had made were not being applied to my loan but placed in a suspense account while CitiMortgage was continuing to add on late payments and other delinquent fees.  I had not agreed to this arrangement but was powerless to complain.

I finally received a letter from CitiMortgage stating my check (my fifth payment) was being returned to me with no reason provided. I knew CitiMortgage was up to something, so I checked the internet to discover that CitiMortgage was dual-tracking me and had filed to foreclose on me while compliant with the modification plan. To add further injury,  I received two more offers from CitiMortgage that week offering to modify my loan! CitiMortgage did not want full payment- they wanted my house and the financial windfall that follows a successful foreclosure.

It has now been six years and the house has sat vacant since Citi revoked my modification.  All the work I did has been reversed by humidity and vacancy.  I no longer have any equity in the property.  I sued CitiMortgage over this egregious bait and switch scheme and even provided evidence to the court that I was granted an “approved repayment plan” with no contingencies.  The judge in my case, with 20 percent of his retirement in CitiMortgage, did not recuse himself but instead threw out my entire complaint and provided no reason for his decision.  Not only did CitiMortgage get away with this fraud, the corrupt judge dismissed my case on summary judgement stating there was no controversy.  Even when you have irrefutable evidence of fraud- if you have a biased and unethical judge you will not prevail.   I reported my experience to SigTarp, the CFPB, FCC and the Office of the Comptroller- and not one agency bothered to respond to my complaint or sanction CitiMortgage for this blatant contract violation.  I requested that CitiMortgage return the modification payments they fraudulently extorted from me- and of course they refused.

My situation appears to be the norm, not the exception.  SigTarp reported that one out of every three homeowners in HAMP re-defaults on their payments. They suggest that the Treasury, “research and analyze whether, and to what extent, the conduct of HAMP mortgage servicers contributed to homeowners redefaulting on HAMP permanent mortgage modifications.”  I can tell them from experience that examining the behaviors and motivations of the servicers would be a great place to start. I can almost guarantee in most modification cases that it isn’t the homeowner who defaults.  In the first place, a homeowner who prevails in obtaining a loan modification may work diligently for years before being granted a modification and persevere against great odds! I would estimate I spent around 45 hours on the phone, faxing and following up with CitiMortgage before receiving my modification.  In fact, dealing with CitiMortgage became my occupation.  The homeowner who receives a modification, in most cases, has fought a long and hard battle for the modification and has no idea that the bank can refuse to honor the agreement.

To get the true story about what is going on, the Treasury could begin by sending out questionnaires to prior homeowners in HAMP that were compliant when their modifications were revoked for no other reason than the servicer wanting to take another stab at stealing the home.  SIGTARP’s concerns over servicer misconduct contributing to homeowner redefaults in HAMP was revealed through the Treasury’s on-site visits to the largest seven mortgage servicers in HAMP over the last year and apparently reveal disturbing and unacceptable results, finding that 6 of 7 of the mortgage servicers had wrongfully terminated homeowners who were in “good standing”.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume that servicers are up to their same old tricks and forcing compliant homeowners out of HAMP.  Servicers have no incentive to not unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the homeowner when a successful foreclosure is more lucrative than modifying a mortgage.  The usual six non-compliant culprits are named in the report:

WRONGFUL TERMINATIONS OF HOMEOWNERS FROM HAMP BY SERVICERS:

Q4 2014 TO Q3 2015    

Servicer                                       Wrongful Termination of Homeowner  From HAMP

Bank of America, N.A.                                        X

CitiMortgage Inc                                                  X

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.                              X

Nationstar Mortgage LLC                                    X

Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC                               X

Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.                                       X

According to SIGTARP, homeowners who make their modified mortgage payments on time, or who do not fall three months behind on those payments are entitled to remain in HAMP. However, the Treasury’s results found that, within the last year, Bank of America,CitiMortgage, JP Morgan Chase, Nationstar, Ocwen and Wells Fargo all claimed that homeowners had redefaulted out of HAMP by missing three payments when, in reality, they had not.

These six mortgage servicers account for 74% of non-GSE HAMP modifications funded by TARP since the start of the program. Upon further reading, and despite the fact that the Treasury has done nothing to stop this misconduct, the servicers are engaging in a process of holding the homeowner’s payments in suspense accounts (so they can continue accruing late fees and other delinquent charges), reversing and reapplying the homeowner’s payments improperly and terminating homeowners who have not defaulted on the required three payments.

This misconduct is also probably much larger in scale than it appears because the Treasury only samples 100 redefaulted homeowners per servicer each quarter.  It is possible that the number of homeowners impacted is much, much larger.  This has been going on since the inception of the program and the Treasury’s response over time has been anemic and unresponsive.  The servicers appear to have an understanding that if they don’t comply there is no consequence other than a little bad publicity (as if a little more bad publicity would impact them at this point).

The potential profit of a fraudulent foreclosure is incentive enough to kick compliant homeowners out of the HAMP program. It should be known that many of the servicers making offers to modify do not have legal standing to make an offer to modify the loan in the first place and are simply engaging in a process to get the homeowner further into default.

In my particular case, all I wanted was to modify my mortgage, sell my home, and go forward with my life.  CitiMortgage did NOT want payment- they WANTED the HOME and used modification as a tool to  obtain this goal.  A modification is nothing short of a tool of deception used by servicers to steal a home.  Servicers use modification for these purposes:

1.  Intimidate the unsophisticated or vulnerable Homeowner- Create Fear and Confusion by processes of circular phone transfers, lost documents, false claims, conflicting messages and blatant lies.

2. Time Destruction- Time spent in modification compromises other available options like refinancing, a short sale or hiring an attorney.  A consumer’s options diminish as time goes by. It is to the bank’s benefit to not modify the loan but to paint the homeowner into a corner.

3. Equity Erosion- Every month while in a modification the equity in the home is eroded by late fees and other charges the consumer is not advised about in advance.

4. Payment Hostage- The servicer retains the monthly modification payment in a suspense account.  These funds then cannot be used for a more beneficial purpose like retaining an attorney or refinancing. The consumer is not told that the payment will not be applied to their mortgage or if the modification fails that the payments will not be returned.

5. Dual-Tracking- A homeowner in the process of modifying their mortgage or who has an approved modification may be subsequently foreclosed upon in violation of law.

6. Government Kickbacks- Servicers who engage in the modification process receive compensation for each modification attempt and successful modification.  Servicers are accepting government payments (from tax payers) only to sabotage modifications.

The time has come for a full investigation into the behavior of loan servicers.  Not only do servicers make offers to modify loans they have no legal right to modify, but they engage in fraudulent practices that are not in the best interest of the homeowner, investor or community.  This article won’t get into the fact that servicers lie about their relationship to the loan, the balance owed and need to be heavily fined and sanctioned for forging documents, filing false affidavits and other criminal acts.  The bottom line is that a servicer is incentivized to lie, to cheat and to steal by a lack of governmental oversight and by the  potential windfall of profits that occur upon a successful foreclosure (including insurance, “servicer advances” and other compensation).  The bank has bet your mortgage will fail, and you can bet they will resort to every trick in the book to take your home including the use of faux modifications.

It is ironic that two months ago I received a letter from CitiMortgage offering to modify again.  This is despite the fact that the note and mortgage were rescinded under TILA.  I’m not sure what CitiMortgage thinks they are going to modify now that the note and mortgage are void by operation of law- but why would I expect rogue servicer CitiMortgage to comply with any state or federal law?

Advice: Your servicer is not your friend and will act only in their best interest.

I have attached copies of my “approved repayment plan” as evidence of the modification agreement.

If you would like to share your modification story with us please email us at: lendingliesconsulting@gmail.com.  We would like to hear about your experiences.

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Repayment Plan One cleanRepayment Plan Two clean

OneWest — One Step Up from Donald Duck

For further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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Well at least OneWest legally exists and it didn’t originate any loans even though it sometimes tries to give that appearance. But it is clear that this company was literally formed over a weekend to takeover IndyMac business. In so doing it made a number of dubious deals in which it was not to be liable for the shoddy, fabricated documents, and unlawful practices of IndyMac which claimed ownership of loans that were already sold into the secondary market and then subjected to conflicting claims of ownership. It looks like the return on investment was infinite.

OneWest Bank Targeted By Insurer Over $335M In MBS Losses

Law360, New York (August 13, 2012, 9:41 PM ET) — Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. fired off a suit against OneWest Bank FSB in California on Thursday, claiming the company’s shoddy loan servicing was to blame for some of the $335 million it has shelled out in insurance claims related to mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit in Los Angeles court says that since OneWest took over IndyMac Bank FSB’s role as servicer of mortgage loans underlying residential MBS, the loans have experienced delinquencies and defaults at a severe and unexpected rate. That in turn has forced Assured to…

The question is whose loss was this, and why did the insurance company pay it off? The bigger question is that if the loss was paid off, why wasn’t allocated to the underlying assets whose decline in value was the basis of the loss claim?

OneWest Bank Can’t Shake HAMP Loan Class Action

Law360, New York (October 23, 2012, 3:11 PM ET) — OneWest Bank FSB on Monday failed to escape an Illinois class action accusing it of bungling a mortgage loan modification application by unreasonably delaying its response and imposing late fees for payments that were not actually late.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman rejected OneWest’s argument that lead plaintiff Stacey Fletcher lacked standing, finding that her complaint alleged sufficient injury from OneWest’s allegedly unreasonable delay in responding to her request for a modified loan under the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Fletcher further accuses OneWest of reporting her to…

It seems like OneWest was too busy  making claims for loss sharing and insurance and guarantees to actually pursue modifications.

OneWest, Soros Accused Of Mortgage Scam In FCA Suit

Law360, New York (October 16, 2012, 9:47 PM ET) — A Florida resident hit OneWest Bank and billionaire majority shareholder George Soros with a False Claims Act lawsuit Monday, saying that through their connections to President Barack Obama, they had finagled a loss-sharing deal with the government that allowed them to scam homeowners and taxpayers.

James Beekman, who originally took out his mortgage with IndyMac Federal Bank, says when Soros and OneWest took over the fallen bank, they entered into a loss-sharing agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Under the deal, OneWest would shoulder the…

Disclosure. Patrick Giunta and I represent Beekman. No further comment

Loan Info Confidential

By Michael Lipkin

Law360, San Diego (November 10, 2014, 6:13 PM ET) — OneWest Bank NA is trying to stop Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. from accessing confidential information about Lehman-owned loans it used to service, alleging in New York federal court that Lehman is trying to blame OneWest for its own bad investments.
In a complaint filed Friday, OneWest claims Lehman is trying to access regulated information about 27 mortgages OneWest used to service, including confidential data about borrowers that OneWest alleges Lehman doesn’t have a right to access. The loans were eventually liquidated after poor performance, and the service agreements governing them have already expired, according to the complaint.

“This action seeks to end defendants’ misguided campaign to try to force OneWest to provide them with confidential information to which the defendants are no longer entitled,” the bank said. “Doing so could subject OneWest to potential regulatory and civil liability for failing to protect private borrower information.”

Aurora Commercial Corp., formerly Lehman Brothers Bank FSB, is also named as a defendant.

Lehman allegedly bought the loans as part of a pool from IndyMac Bank FSB between 2006 and 2007, with IndyMac retaining the right to service the loans. After IndyMac was shut down by the Office of Thrift Supervision in 2008, OneWest bought the servicing rights from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The deal expressly said OneWest was not liable for previous servicing conduct, according to the complaint.

For the full article see www.law360.com

The Truth is Coming Out: More Questions About Loan Origination, Debt, Note, Mortgage and Foreclosure

For further assistance please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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Carol Molloy, Esq., one of our preferred attorneys is now taking on new cases for litigation support only. This means that if you have an attorney in the jurisdiction in which your property is located, then Carol can serve in a support role framing pleadings, motions and discovery and coaching the lawyer on what to do and say in court. Carol Molloy is licensed in Tennessee and Massachusetts where she has cases in both jurisdictions in which she is the lead attorney. As part of our team she gets support from myself and others. call our numbers above to get in touch with her.

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Hat tip to our lead investigator Ken McLeod (Chandler, Az) who brought this case to my attention. It is from 2013.

see New York Department of Housing vs Deutsch

Mysteriously seemingly knowledgeable legislators passed statutes permitting government agencies to finance mortgage loans in amounts for more than the property is worth, to people who could not afford to pay, without the need to document things such as income, and then to allow the chopping up the [*7]loans into little pieces to sell to new investors, so that if a borrower defaulted in repayment of the loan, the lender would not have the ability to prove it actually owned the debt, let alone plead its name correctly. The spell cast was so widespread that courts find almost everyone involved in mortgage foreclosure litigation raising the “Sgt. Schultz Defense” of “I know nothing.”

Rather than assert its rights and perhaps obligations under the terms of the mortgage to maintain the property and its investment, respondent has asserted the Herman Melville “Bartleby the Scrivener Defense” of “I prefer not to” and relying on the word “may” in the document, has elected to do nothing in this regard. Because this loan appears to have been sold to investors, it may be asked, does not the respondent have a legal obligation to those investors to take whatever steps are necessary to preserve the property such as collecting the rents and maintain the property as permitted in the mortgage documents?

It should be noted that in its cross-motion in this action Deutsche asserts that its correct name is “Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Saxon Asset Securities Trust 2007-3, Mortgage Loan Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-3” and not the name petitioner placed in the caption. Which deserves the response “you’ve got to be kidding.” Deutsche is not mentioned in the chain of title; it is listed in these HP proceedings with the same name as on the caption of the foreclosure action in which it is the plaintiff and which its counsel drafted; and its name is not in the body of foreclosure action pleadings. In the foreclosure proceeding Deutsche pleads that it “was and still is duly organized and existing under the laws of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” However, there is no reference to or pleading of the particular law of the USA under which it exists leaving the court to speculate whether it is some federal banking statute, or one that allows Volkswagens, BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s to be imported to the US or one that permitted German scientists to come to the US and develop our space program after World War II.

As more and more cases are revealed or published, the truth is emerging beyond a reasonable doubt about the origination of the loans, the actual debt (identifying creditor and debtor), the note, the mortgage and the inevitable attempt at foreclosure and forced sale (forfeiture) of property to entities who have nothing to do with any actual transaction involving the borrower. The New York court quoted above describes in colorful language the false nature of the entire scheme from beginning to end.

see bankers-who-commit-fraud-like-murderers-are-supposed-to-go-to-jail

see http://www.salon.com/2014/12/02/big_banks_broke_america_why_nows_the_time_to_break_our_national_addiction/

The TRUTH of the matter, as we now know it includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. DONALD DUCK LOANS: NONEXISTENT Pretender Lenders: Hundreds of thousands of loan closings involved the false disclosure of a lender that did not legally or physically exist. The money from the loan obviously came from somewhere else and the use of the non-existent entity name was a scam to deflect attention from the real nature of the transaction. These are by definition “table-funded” loans and when used in a pattern of conduct constitutes not only violation of TILA but is dubbed “predatory per se” under Reg Z. Since the mortgage and note and settlement documents all referred to a nonexistent entity, you might just as well have signed the note payable to Donald Duck, who at least is better known than American Broker’s Conduit. Such mortgages are void because the party in whose favor they are drafted and signed does not exist. Such a mortgage should never be recorded and is subject to a quiet title action. The debt still arises by operation of law between the debtor (borrower) and the the creditor (unidentified lender) but it is not secured and the note is NOT presumptive evidence of the debt. THINK I’M WRONG? “SHOW ME A CASE!” WELL HERE IS ONE FOR STARTERS: 18th Judicial Circuit BOA v Nash VOID mortgage Void Note Reverse Judgement for Payments made to non-existent entity
  2. DEAD ENTITY LOANS: Existing Entity Sham Pretender Lender: Here the lender was alive or might still be alive but it is and probably always was broke, incapable of loaning money to anyone. Hundreds of thousands of loan closings involved the false disclosure of a lender that did not legally or physically make a loan to the borrower (debtor). The money from the loan obviously came from somewhere else and the use of the sham entity name was a scam to deflect attention from the real nature of the transaction. These are by definition “table-funded” loans and when used in a pattern of conduct constitutes not only violation of TILA but is dubbed “predatory per se” under Reg Z. Since the mortgage and note and settlement documents all referred to an entity that did not actually loan money to the borrower, (like The Money Source) such mortgages are void because the party in whose favor they are drafted and signed did not fulfill a black letter element of an enforceable contract — consideration. Such a mortgage should never be recorded and is subject to a quiet title action. The debt still arises by operation of law between the debtor (borrower) and the the creditor (unidentified lender) but it is not secured and the note is NOT presumptive evidence of the debt.
  3. BRAND NAME LOANS FROM BIG BANKS OR BIG ORIGINATORS: Here the loans were disguised as loans from the entity that could have loaned the money to the borrower — but didn’t. Millions of loan closings involved the false disclosure of a lender that did not legally or physically make a loan to the borrower (debtor). The money from the loan came from somewhere else and the use of the brand name entity (like Wells Fargo or Quicken Loans) name was a scam to deflect attention from the real nature of the transaction. These are by definition “table-funded” loans and when used in a pattern of conduct constitutes not only violation of TILA but is dubbed “predatory per se” under Reg Z. Since the mortgage and note and settlement documents all referred to an entity that did not actually loan money to the borrower, such mortgages are void because the party in whose favor they are drafted and signed did not fulfill a black letter element of an enforceable contract — consideration. Such a mortgage should never be recorded and is subject to a quiet title action. The debt still arises by operation of law between the debtor (borrower) and the the creditor (unidentified lender) but it is not secured and the note is NOT presumptive evidence of the debt.
  4. TRANSFER WITHOUT SALE: You can’t sell what you don’t own. And you can’t own the loan without paying for its origination or acquisition. Millions of foreclosures are predicated upon acquisition of the loan through a nonexistent purchase — but facially valid paperwork leads to the assumption or even presumption that the sale of the loan took place — i.e., delivery of the loan documents in exchange for payment received. These loans can be traced down to one of the three types of loans described above by asking the question “Why was there no payment.” In turn this inquiry can start from the question “Why is the Trust not named as a holder in due course?” The answer is that an HDC must acquire the loan for value and receive delivery. What the banks are doing is showing evidence of delivery and an “assignment” or “power of attorney” that has no basis in real life — the endorsement of the note or assignment of the mortgage was fabricated, robo-signed and is subject to perjury in court testimony. Using the Pooling and Servicing Agreement only shows that more fabricated paperwork was used to fool the court into thinking that there is a pool of loans which in most cases does not exist — a t least not in the REMIC Trust.
  5. VIOLATION OF THE TRUST DOCUMENT: Most trusts are governed by New York law. Some of them are governed by Delaware law and some invoke both jurisdictions (see Christiana Bank). The laws that MUST be applied to the REMIC Trusts declare that any action taken without express authority from the Trust instrument is VOID. The investors still have not been told that their money never went into the trust, but that is what happened. They have also not been told that the Trust issued mortgage bonds but never received the proceeds of sale of those bonds. And they have not been told that the Trust, being unfunded, never acquired the loans. And that is why there is no assertion of holder in due course status. Some courts have held that the PSA is irrelevant — but they are failing to realize that such a ruling by definition eliminates the foreclosure as a viable action; that is true because the only basis of authority to pursue foreclosure, collection or any other enforcement of the sham loan documents is in the PSA which is the Trust document.
  6. THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS WITHOUT ACCOUNTING: “Servicer” advances that are actually made by the servicer but pulled from an account controlled by the broker dealer who sold the mortgage bonds. These payments continue regardless of whether the borrower is paying or not. Banks fight this issue because it would require that the actual creditors be identified and given notice of proceedings that are being pursued contrary to the interests of the investors. Those payments negate any default between the debtor and the actual creditor who has been paid. They also reduce the amount due. The same holds true for proceeds of insurance, guarantees, loss sharing with the FDIC and proceeds of hedge products like credit default swaps. Legally it is clear that these payments satisfies the payments due from the borrower but gives rise to an unsecured volunteer payment recapture through a claim for unjust enrichment. That could lead to a money judgment, the filing of the judgment and the foreclosure of the judgment lien. But the banks don’t want to do that because they would definitely be required to show the money trail — something they are avoiding at all costs because it would unravel the entire fraudulent scheme of “securitization fail.” (Adam Levitin’s term).
  7. ESTOPPEL: Inducing people to go into default so that there can be more foreclosures: Millions of people called the servicer asking for a modification or workout that the servicer obviously had no right to entertain. The servicer customer representative gave the impression that the borrower was talking to the right person. And this trusted person then started practicing law without a license by advising that modifications could not be requested until the borrower was at least 90 days in arrears. All of this was a lie. HAMP and other programs do NOT require 90 day arrearage. The purpose was to get homeowners in so deep that they could never get out because the servicers are charged with the job of getting as many loans into foreclosure as possible. By telling the borrower to stop paying they were (a) telling them the right thing because the servicer actually had no right to collect the payment anyway and (b) they put the servicer in an estoppel position — you can’t tell a borrower to stop paying and then say THEY breached the “agreement”. Stopping payment was a the request or demand of the servicer. Further complicating the process was the intentional loss of submissions by borrowers; the purpose of these “losses” (like “lost notes” was to elongate the process and get the borrower deeper and deeper into the false arrearage claimed by the servicer.

The conclusion is obvious — complete strangers to the actual transaction (between the actual debtor and actual creditor) are using the names of other complete strangers to the transaction and faking documents regularly to close out serious liabilities totaling trillions of dollars for “faulty”, fraudulent loans, transfers and foreclosures. As pointed out in many previous articles here, this is often accomplished through an Assignment and Assumption Agreement in which the program requires violating the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA), the HAMP modification program etc. Logically it is easy to see why they allowed “foreclosures” to languish for 5-8 years — they are running the statute of limitations on TILA violations, rescission etc. But the common law right of rescission still exists as does a cause of action for nullification of the note and mortgage.

The essential truth in the bottom line is this: the paperwork generated at the loan closing is “faulty” and most often fabricated and the borrower is induced to execute documents that create a second liability to an entity who did nothing in exchange for the note and mortgage except get paid as a pretender lender — all in violation of disclosure requirements on Federal and state levels. This is and was a fraudulent scheme. Hence the “Clean hands” element of equitable relief in foreclosure as well as basic contract law prevent the right to enforce the mortgage, the note or the debt against the debtor/borrower by strangers to the transaction with the borrower.

BANKS EDGE CLOSER TO THE ABYSS: Florida Judge Forces Permanent Modification

GGKW (GARFIELD, GWALTNEY, KELLEY AND WHITE) provides Legal Services across the State of Florida. We also provide litigation support to attorneys in all 50 states. We concentrate our practice on mortgage related issues, litigation and modification (or settlement). We are available to represent homeowners, business owners, and homeowner associations seeking to preserve their interest in the property and seeking damages (monetary payment).  Neil F Garfield is a licensed Florida attorney who provides expert witness and consulting fees all over the country. No board certification is offered by the Florida Bar, so the firm may not claim expertise in mortgage litigation. Mr. Garfield’s status as an “expert” is only as a witness and not as an attorney.
If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our South Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. In Northern Florida and the Panhandle call 850-765-1236. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

SEE ALSO: http://WWW.LIVINGLIES-STORE.COM

The selection of an attorney is an important decision  and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available TO PROVIDE ACTIVE LITIGATION SUPPORT to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

For the second time in as many weeks a trial judge has ordered the pretender lender to execute a permanent modification based upon the borrowers total compliance with the provisions of the trial modification.This time Wells Fargo (Wachovia) was given the terms of the modification, told to put it in writing and file it. If they don’t sanctions will apply just as they will be in the Florida Panhandle case we reported on last week.

Remember that before the trial modification begins the pretender lender is supposed to have done all the underwriting required to validate the loan, the value of the property, the income of the borrower etc. That is the responsibility of the lender under the Truth in Lending Act.

Of course we know that cases were instead picked at random with a cursory overview simply because there was no intention to ever give a permanent modification. Borrowers and their attorneys have known this for years. Government, always slow on the uptake, is starting to get restless as more and more Attorneys General are saying that the Banks are not complying with the intent or content of the agreement when the banks took TARP money.

The supreme irony of this case is that Wells Fargo didn’t want the TARP money and was convinced to take it and accept the terms of HAMP because if only the banks that really need it took the money it was argued that this would start a run on the banks named that had to take TARP. The other ironic factoid here is that the whole issue of ownership of the loans blew up in the face of the government officers around the country that thought TARP was a good idea — only to find out that the “toxic assets” (TARP – “Toxic Asset Relief Program”) were not defaulting mortgages.

  1. So instead of telling the banks they were liars and going after them the way Teddy Roosevelt did 100 years ago, they changed the definition of toxic assets to mean mortgage bonds.
  2. This they thought would take care of it since the mortgage bonds were the evidence of “ownership” of the  “underlying” home loans.
  3. Then the government found out that the mortgage bonds were not failing, they were merely the subject of a declaration from the Master Servicer (a necessary and indispensable party to all mortgage litigation, in my opinion) that the value of the bond had fallen ,thus triggering payment from insurers, counterparties on credit default swaps etc to pay up to 100 cents on the dollar for each of the bonds —
  4. which means the receivable account from the borrower had been either extinguished or reduced through third party payment.
  5. But by cheating the investors out of the insurance money (something the investors are taking care of right now in the courts), they thought they could keep saying the loans were in default and the mortgage bond had been devalued and thus the payment of insurance was legally valid.
  6. BUT the real truth is that the loans had never made into the asset pools that issued the mortgage bonds.
  7. So the TARP definitions were changed again to “whatever” and the money kept flowing to the banks while they were rolling in money from all sides — investors, insurers, CDS counterparts, sales of the note to multiple asset pools (REMICs) and then sales of the note to the Federal Reserve for 100 cents on the dollar.
  8. This leaves the loan receivable account in many cases in an overpaid status if one applies generally accepted accounting principles and allocates the Federal, insurance and CDS money to the bonds and the “underlying” loans.
  9. So the Banks took the position that since the money was not coming in to cover the loans (because the loans were not in the asset pool that issued the mortgage bond and therefore the mortgage bond was NO evidence of ownership of the loan) that therefore they could apply the money any way they wanted, and that is where the government left it, to the astonishment and dismay of the the rest of the world. that is when world economies went into a nose dive.

The whole purpose of the mega banks in in entering into trial modification was actually to create the impression that the mega banks were modifying loans. But to the rest of us, the trial modification was supposed to to be last hurdle before the disaster was finally over. Comply with the payment schedule, insurance, taxes, and everything else, and it automatically becomes your permanent modification.

Not so, according to Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi and their brothers in arms in the false scheme of securitization. According to them they could keep the money paid by the borrower to be approved for the trial modification, keep the money paid by the borrower to comply with the terms of the trial modification and then the banks could foreclose making up any excuse they wanted to deny the permanent modification. The sole straw upon which their theory rests is that they were only obligated to “consider” the modification; according to them they were NEVER required to make it such that the modification would become permanent unless the bank expressly said so, which in most cases it does not.

When you total it all up, the Banks received a minimum of $2.50 for each $1.00 loan “out there” regardless of who owns it. Under the terms of the promissory note signed by the borrower, that means the account is paid in full and then some. If the investor has not stepped up to file a competing claim against the borrower’s new claim for overpayment, then the entire overage should be paid to the borrower.

The Banks want to say, like they did to the government, that the trial modification is nothing despite the presence of an offer, acceptance and consideration. To my knowledge there are at least two judges in Florida who think that is a ridiculous argument and knowing how judges talk amongst themselves behind closed doors, I would expect more of these decisions. If the borrower applies for and is approved for trial modification and they comply with the trial provisions, a contract is formed.

The foreclosure defense attorney in Palm Beach County argued SIMPLE contract. And the Judge agreed. My thought is that if you are in a trial modification get ready to hire that attorney or some other one who gets it and can cover your geographical area. Once that last payment is made, and in most cases, the payment is continued long after the trial modification period is officially over, the Bank has no equitable or legal right to deny the permanent modification.

The only caveat here is whether the Judge was correct in stating the amount of principal due without hearing evidence on third party payments and ownership of the loan. WHY WOULD THE BANK WANT LESS MONEY IN FORECLOSURE RATHER THAN MORE MONEY IN A MODIFICATION? The answer is that out of the $2.50 they received for the loan, they would be required to refund $2.50 because the Bank was supposed to be an intermediary, not a principal in the transaction. So the balance quoted by the judge without evidence was quite probably wrong by a mile.

If there is any balance it is most likely a small fraction of the original principal due on the promissory note. And, as we have been saying for years, it is most likely NOT due to the party that is entering into the modification. This last point is troubling but “apparent authority” doctrines might cover the problem.

Every time a loan does NOT go into foreclosure, the Banks’ representation of defaults and the value of the loan (in order to trigger insurance and other third party payments)  come under question and the prospect of disaster for the Bank rises, to wit:  refunding trillions of dollars in insurance and CDS money as well as money received from co-obligors on the bond (the finished product after the note was moved through the manufacturing process of a false securitization scheme).

Every time a loan is found NOT to have actually been purchased by the asset pool (REMIC, Trust etc.) because there was no money in the asset pool and that the investors merely have an equitable right to claim the note and mortgage under constructive trust or resulting trust theories, the validity of the mortgage encumbrance fades to black. There is no such thing as an equitable mortgage lien or an equitable lien of any sort. And there is plenty of good sense and many law review articles as well as case decisions that explain why that is true.

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PRACTICE HINT FOR ATTORNEYS: Whether you are litigating or negotiating, send a preservation letter to every possible party or witness that might be involved. That way when you ask for production, they can’t say they destroyed or lost it without facing severe consequences. It might even stop the practice of the Banks trashing all documents periodically as has been disclosed in the whistle-blower affidavits from BOA and other banks. If you need assistance in creating a long form preservation letter we are available to provide litigation assistance on that and many other matters that might arise in foreclosure defense.

BOA Seeks to Seal Damaging Testimony from Urban Lending

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

WHY ARE THE BANKS FIGHTING TO GET AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE FROM EACH “FAILED” LOAN?

A drama is playing out in the state of Massachusetts. Bank of America is pretending to be the lender or the authorized servicer or both. But it outsourced the task of dealing with borrowers seeking modification. The company that was used is Urban Lending Solutions (ULS).  A deposition was taken from a knowledgeable source from within ULS.  The attorney  taking the deposition was merely looking for evidence of a script prepared by Bank of America that ULS employees were to follow. Not only was the script uncovered but considerable other evidence suggested institutional policies at Bank of America that were in direct conflict with the requirements of law, and in direct violation of the settlements with the Department of Justice and the banking regulators.

The transcript of the deposition was sealed at the request of Bank of America, which the borrower did not interpose any objection. Now there are a lot of people who want to see that deposition and who want to take the deposition of the same witness and other witnesses at ULS who might reveal the real intent of Bank of America. The question which is sought to be answered is why the mega banks are fighting so hard to take less money in a foreclosure sale then they would get in a modification or even a short sale. The policy is obvious. Borrowers are lured into a hole that gets deeper and deeper so that foreclosure seems inevitable and indefensible. Even after a successful trial modification the banks are turning down the permanent modification, as though they had the power to do so.

Now a number of attorneys are preparing motions to the trial court in Massachusetts to unseal the transcript of the ULS employee. Bank of America is opposing these efforts on the grounds of “confidentiality” which from my perspective makes absolutely no sense. Why would Bank of America share confidential information or trade secrets with a vendor whose only purpose was to interfere with the modification process? My opinion is that the only information that Bank of America wishes to keep secret is that the instructions they gave to ULS clearly show that Bank of America was not interested in anything other than achieving a foreclosure sale in as many cases as possible.

In nearly all cases the modification of the loan more than doubles the prospect of proceeds from the loan and in some cases approaches 100%. Thus the full-court press from the megabanks to go to foreclosure is a mystery that will be solved. My sources from inside the industry together with my own analysis indicates that the reason is very simple. The banks took in money from investors, insurers, counterparties in credit default swaps, the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury and other parties based on the representation of the banks that (A) the banks owned the mortgage bonds and therefore on the loans and (B) there was a loss resulting from widespread defaults on mortgages. Under the terms of the various contracts within the false chain of securitization and the Master servicer had sole discretion as to whether or not the value of the mortgage bonds and the asset pools had declined and had sole discretion as to the amount of the loss caused by the defaults. Both representations were false — the Banks did not own the bonds or the loans and the loss was not even close to what was represented to insurers and other third parties.

As a general rule of thumb, the banks computed value of the collateral at around 25% and therefore received payment to compensate the banks for a 75% loss. They received the payment several times over and then sold the mortgage bonds to the Federal Reserve for 100% of the face value of the bonds. It can be fairly estimated that they received no less than 250% of the principal amount due on each of the loans contained within the asset pool that had issued each mortgage bond. While they had to create the appearance of objectivity by showing a number of the loans as performing, they intentionally overestimated the number of loans that were in default or were in the process of going into default.

Let us not forget that while nobody was looking the Federal Reserve has been “purchasing” the worthless mortgage bonds at the rate of $85 billion per month for a long time and doesn’t appear to have any intention of stopping that flow of money to banks that have already received more than 100% of the principal due on the notes. And lest you be confused, the money the banks received should have gone to the investors and should never have been kept by the banks. The purchases by the Federal Reserve at 100% of face value despite a market value of zero is merely a way for the Federal Reserve to keep the mega banks floating on an illusion.

Since the banks received 250% of the principal amount due on the loan, an actual recovery from the borrower of 100% (for example) on the loan would leave the banks with a liability to all of the third parties that paid the banks. The refund liability would obviously be 150% of the principal amount due on the loan and the banks would be required to turn over the hundred percent recovery from the borrower to the investors adding to their liability. THIS IS WHY I SAY CALL THEIR BLUFF AND OFFER THEM ALL THE MONEY DEMANDED ON CONDITION THAT THEY PROVE OWNERSHIP AND PROVE THE LOSS IS ACTUALLY THE LOSS OF THE BANK AND NOT OF THE INVESTORS.

But if the case goes through a foreclosure sale, the banks can take a comfortable position that the number of defaults and the depth of the loss was as great as they represented when they took payment from insurers and other third parties. The liability of 250% is completely eliminated. Thus while it might appear to be in the bank’s interest to take a 60% recovery from the borrower instead of a 25% recovery from a foreclosure sale, the liability that would be created each time alone was modified or settled would dwarf the apparent savings to the pretender lender or actual creditor.

The net result is that on a $100,000 loan, the investor takes an extra $35,000 loss over and above what would normally apply in a workout and the bank avoids $250,000 in liabilities to third parties who paid based upon false representations of losses.

The mere fact that they went to great lengths to seal the transcript indicates how vulnerable they feel.

PRACTICE MEMO TO FORECLOSURE DEFENSE LAWYERS

As a condition precedent I would suggest that in all cases where we feel the deposition transcript would be helpful I think it would create more credibility if you issued a subpoena duces tecum directed at Urban to produce the witness whose deposition was sealed in the existing case and to bring those records that were requested or demanded at that deposition. One of the questions that needs to be answered is whether the witness witness is still working for Urban, whether the witness has “disappeared”, and whether his testimony has changed — thus we would need the other deposition to test credibility and perhaps get exhibits that BANA either didn’t object to, which means they waived confidentiality. If they do not move to quash the subpoena then they might also be arguably waiving the confidentiality objection.
If they do object, you have two bites of the apple — if they move to quash they must state the grounds other than than it will damage their chances in litigation. The trial court would then hear the objections and of course each if the cases that could benefit from unsealing the deposition results in a hearing, then several judges would hear the same objection. The likelihood is that the objection would attempt to bootstrap the order sealing the deposition as reason enough to quash the subpoena. That in turn puts pressure on the Massachusetts judge to release the transcript.
The more Motions filed the better. So I would suggest that we reach out through media to get as many people as possible with separate motions saying that sealing the deposition is causing a disruption in due process. Since Urban reached out on behalf of BANA — an allegation that should be made in opposition test the motion to quash the subpoena in each case — exactly what confidential information needs to be protected? Has the Massachusetts court heard a motion in liming preventing the use of the deposition at trial? If not, then the objection is waived since the Plaintiff will clearly use the deposition at trial, if there is one.
The other issue is that BOA can’t simply allege confidentiality rather than strategy in litigation. They must state with particularity what could be possibly confidential. There is no attorney-client privilege, there is no attorney work product privilege.  At first Bank of America disclaimed any knowledge or relationship with ULS.  When it became obvious that the relationship existed and that ULS was using Bank of America letterhead to communicate with borrowers they finally admitted that the relationship existed and then went one step further by alleging confidentiality and trade secrets so that the contract and instructions between Bank of America and ULS would never see the light of day., For a company that BOA disclaimed any knowledge but who used BOA stationery they were clearly an agent of BANA. What exactly could Urban have other than information about modification and foreclosure? I would also notice or subpoena BANA to produce the person who signed the contract with Urban and to bring the contract with him or her. Who received instructions from BOA? Where are those instructions? Were they produced at the sealed deposition.
 If the Massachusetts court does not unseal the transcript, doesn’t this give BOA an opportunity for a do-over where they fabricate documents that are different from those produced in the sealed deposition?
What were the instructions to Urban? What was the goal of the relationship between BOA and URban? Where are the scripts now that we’re produced in the sealed deposition?
Were the instructions to Urban the same as the instructions to all vendors assisting in the foreclosure process? Why did BOA even need Urban if it had proof of payment, proof of loss,  proof of ownership of the loan? We want to know what scripts were used by Urban and whether the same scripts were distributed to other vendors whose behavior could be plausibly denied. Discovery is a process by which the party seeking it must only show that it might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. THE POINT MUST BE MADE THAT THE DEFENSE FOR WHICH WE ARE LOOKING FOR SUPPORT AND CORROBORATION IS THAT THE DELIBERATE POLICY AND PRACTICE OF BOA WAS TO MOVE PEOPLE INTO DEFAULT BY TELLING THEM TO STOP MAKING PAYMENTS. WE WANT TO SHOW THAT THEIR GOAL WAS FORECLOSURE NOT MODIFICATION CONTRARY TO THE REQUIREMENTS UNDER HAMP AND HARP AND THAT RATHER THAN PROCESS MODIFICATION OR SETTLEMENTS THE POLICY WAS TO DERAIL AS MANY AS POSSIBLE TO GET THE FORECLOSURE EVEN IF IT MEANT THAT THE INVESTORS WOULD GET LESS MONEY? Why?
The instruction was to use the promise or carrot of modification to trick the homeowner into (a) acknowledging BOA as the right party (b) stop making payments causing an apparent default and causing an escrow shortage (c) thus assuring the foreclosure sale despite the fact that BOA never acquired and (d) thus assuring that claims against them from investors (see dozens of law suits against BOA) and from insurers and counter parties on credit default swaps and payments from co-obligors based on the “default” that BOA fabricated — payments that involved more than the loan itself in multiples of the supposed loan balance.

This is an important battle. Let’s win it. There is strength in numbers. We might find the scripts were prepared by someone who used scripts from other banks and that the banks were in agreement that despite the obligations under HAMP and HARP and despite their ,rinses in the AG and OCC settlement, their goal is to foreclose at all costs because if the general pattern of conduct is to settle these loans and make them “performing” loans again it is highly probable that for each dollar of principal that gets taken of the table there is a liability or claim for $10. This would establish that the requirements of HAMP and HARP has resulted in negotiating with the fox while the fox is in the henhouse getting fat.

Forcing Modification on a Reluctant Servicer

DON’T FORGET THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SERVICER WITH WHOM YOU ARE DEALING (THE SUBSERVICER) AND THE MASTER SERVICER WHO IS CALLING THE SHOTS ON BEHALF FOR THE INVESTMENT BANKER. DEMAND PROOF OF WHO IS HANDLING THE MODIFICATION, WHO IS ASSIGNED AND WHO THEY CONSULTED.

After interviewing Danielle Kelley on the issue of modification, there is a lot of red meat that can be used to bring relief to the homeowner and sanctions against the servicer that was negligently or intentionally avoiding its responsibilities under HAMP. Danielle points out that according to the DOJ judgment against BOA, there seems to be direct guidelines (which BOA has intentionally breached as a matter of policy) that under HAMP, the servicer is required to submit the proposal for underwriting prior to offering a trial payment plan. This would suggest something that is certain to be attractive to the Judge who neither wants to throw anyone out of their home nor let the borrower off the hook because there is a coffee stain on the documents.

It may be presumed that the servicer HAS submitted the plan for underwriting if they offer a trial modification. That means the borrower has been twice approved for the loan — first at origination and then under the trial modification. No more documents or financial statements, no more “consideration,” and no more denials based upon nothing. If the bank refuses, then the appropriate motion would be to enforce a settlement agreement — which is the way I would entitle it. And the argument would be that if the trial modification is not a gateway to permanent modification after underwriting twice the same borrower and after accepting trial payments, then what is it — a survey?

As we have already seen in a recent case litigated by Danielle Kelley the Judge didn’t buy the argument that the permanent modification is not automatic even if the borrower fulfills all requirements under the trial modification. remember, this borrower has already been qualified in the loan origination. Use that against the bank, saying that you approved them twice and now you want to deny them a modification after they have demonstrated the loan is viable by making the actual payments?

If the situation gets hairy then go into discovery and identify all the actual people who were involved, who they contacted, what computers they used, what software and what criteria they used in approving the trial modification. You will find they contacted nobody and did not actually underwrite the trial modification at all even though they were required to do so before the trial modification was offered by them. That’s their choice. If they want to approve trial modifications the same way they approved loans — without conforming to industry underwriting standards — they have made their election. They do not now have the excuse or basis for denying the permanent modification or demanding that the loan modification process begin all over again.

Once again we are confronted with a bank that doesn’t want the money, doesn’t want the loan reinstated, and who refuses to mitigate their damages, electing instead to push the borrower into foreclosure where both the investor/creditor (who probably knows nothing about the situation because they were never contacted, contrary to the condition precedent in HAMP and the DOJ judgment) and the borrower end up screwed.

This is only now coming out through whistle blowers. I have been predicting that this would be revealed for years and most people thought I was nuts. Maybe I am nuts but I am still right. The servicers and investment bankers have painted themselves into a corner. The truth is that none of them has any authority to negotiate the terms of the modification, nor to pursue foreclosure because not even they know if there is an actual balance left on the old loan receivable which has long since been converted into something else thanks to payment by a third party who expressly waived their right of substitution, subrogation or contribution against the borrower.

This is not theory — it is about the facts. Why would you take a document handed to you by the bank or attached to a pleading or recording be assumed by the attorney for the homeowner to be true and correct. We know it isn’t. So it is the lawyer’s job to probe through discovery down to see what transactions occurred, when they occurred and who were the parties to the transaction, as well as the terms of the transaction. Then the lawyer should compare the actual transactions, (shown by canceled checks, wire transfer receipts or other indicia of payment that can be corroborated through the national payments systems), with the documents proffered by the forecloser who is now pretending to modify when in fact they are steering the borrower into foreclosure, contrary to normal banking practice of maximizing the mitigation of damages such that the bank loses nothing or close to nothing. Listen to any seminar, as late as the last year, on foreclosure defaults and the seminar is all about workouts because that is the best answer for both the bank and the borrower. Now they would rather lose more money than less.  Why?

Workouts are the furthest thing from the bankers’ minds because the dirty secret they are hiding is that at all times they were dealing with investor money, much of which they stole. The assets on the balance sheet, the proceeds of insurance, CDS proceeds, and subservicer continuing payments after default (thus curing the default) all tell the story that has yet to be told in Court. Now with me practicing again with great lawyers like Danielle Kelley, William Gwaltney and Ian White, the story will be told.

BANKS ARE NOT MITIGATING LOSSES. THEY ARE AVOIDING LIABILITY TO INVESTORS, INSURERS AND THE GOVERNMENT

The only hope for the banks is getting a foreclosure sale that gives the further appearance that the reason the investor, the insurer, the credit default swap counter party, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve lost money was because of the vast number of defaults on mortgages. But even with the banks tricking and pushing borrowers into “default” [from a script written by BOA officers and lawyers — “you have to be 3 months behind in your payments before we can consider modification” — a criteria ABSENT from HAMP], the number of defaults and the amount the banks are reporting that investors lost don’t add up — and THAT is why you must be relentless in discovery..

The simple truth is that the banks that are dealing with the foreclosures and modifications stand to lose nothing if the loan results in a zero return to mitigate damages. They stand to lose everything if the loan is reinstated because of all that money they took from investors, insurers, CDS counterparties, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. BOA would not have made it a policy to lie, cheat and deceive borrowers until they ended up in foreclosure unless it was in their interest to do so. What reason would that be other than the one postulated by this paragraph?

“Servicer shall promptly send a final modification agreement to borrowers who have enrolled in a trial period plan under current HAMP guidelines (or fully underwritten proprietary modification programs with a trial payment period) and who have made the required number of timely trial period payments, where the modification is underwritten prior to the trial period and has received any necessary investor, guarantor or insurer approvals. The borrower shall then be converted by Servicer to a permanent modification upon execution of the final modification documents, consistent with applicable program guidelines, absent evidence of fraud.” -HAMP

Danielle Kelley Forces Bank Into Permanent Modification

Danielle Kelley, Esq., is a senior litigation partner in GGKW (the law offices of Garfield, Gwaltney, Kelley and White with home offices in Tallahassee and branches in South Florida and Central Florida), now liberated from the administrative duties associated with running a law practice. Focusing her attention on litigating her cases, the results are getting better and better. Her latest blog turns her attention to enforcement of modification duties by the very same banks who report they are doing their best when in fact they are intentionally done their worst. She be reached at 850-765-1236, 954-495-9867, or dkelley@ggkwlaw.com. Neil F Garfield can be reached at the same numbers and ngarfield@ggkwlaw.com.

The latest is that Danielle Kelley took on the banks in the murky area of modifications — in Court. Her argument: once the trial modification has been satisfied, there is no discretion for the bank to deny the permanent modification. Her client made the payments and supplied the documentation (the usual 30 times because the bank kept lying to her client saying they didn’t have the complete file, asking for things that Kelley proved had even already received several times).

As with the whistle blower affidavits in the current breaking news, Kelley showed that the bank lied saying they had not received paperwork when they had. Opposing counsel was forced to concede that his client had behaved that way — thus setting up the unclean hands argument (which in this case turned out to be unnecessary).

Despite her client satisfying all parts of the trial modification which opposing counsel had to admit, the permanent modification was denied. Kelley said basically “no, it isn’t denied. It is automatic.” The bank scoffed at her and paid the price. Kelley ditched them in the preliminaries. She was just warming up and she had already won.

Opposing counsel citing the HAMP statute said that the bank was under no obligation to permanently modify the loan — even if the borrower has accepted the offer of the bank for the trial modification and then paid in accordance with the terms of the trial modification and even if the bank accepted those payments. Opposing counsel said “just because they complied with the trial modification doesn’t mean they automatically get a permanent modification.” The Judge thought otherwise and was pretty angry about it authorizing sanctions against the bank. “Yes it does mean that counsel — what else could it mean?”

The Judge took it under advisement, did the research, and issued the order. The modification is permanent by Court Order. The case is over with jurisdiction reserved to impose sanctions on the banks and award attorney fees to Kelley and her client. Whether the bank is going to appeal is unknown. But the lesson from this simple motion to enforce the settlement/modification are clear starting with THERE WAS REAL MONEY PAID AND REAL MONEY ACCEPTED AND THE MOVEMENT OF THE MONEY PRECISELY FOLLOWED THE PAPERWORK (the agreement to go into a trial modification).

See more on modification: http://dkelleylaw.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/the-in-house-modification-what-the-boa-declarations-point-to/

You might not see the connection but the ninth circuit opinion essentially came to the same conclusion and then turned the borrower down on his argument that the loan documents should not or could not be enforced. The decision starts out with the statement that the borrower was loaned money as stated in the note. Everything was down hill from there. Once the Court is presented with a real transaction (more apparent than real in the Arizona case, but this issue was never raised), where real money was paid pursuant to the terms of a real contract, the case is essentially over.

The Banks successfully suckered the lawyer into looking at the paperwork instead of looking at the money trail and comparing it with the paperwork. No allegation was made and no Discovery was put in the record showing that there was no real transaction as stated in the note and mortgage.

The two cases are very different in fact pattern but the result is the same: THERE WAS REAL MONEY PAID AND REAL MONEY ACCEPTED AND THE MOVEMENT OF THE MONEY PRECISELY FOLLOWED THE PAPERWORK. The problem in the Arizona case is that there never was any real issue with whether the money had tracked the paper trail even though it appears as though in reality it probably didn’t. Without the issue in the record, as the Court pointed out, they had no obligation to raise issues that were never raised at the trial level.

LISTEN TO DANIELLE KELLEY ON BLOG RADIO

See: 9th circuit slams homeowners. June 28. 2013 http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/06/28/11-16597.pdf

this is not a bad decision. it is just another example of how lost we can get if we just follow the paper trail. the court was perfectly correct in its reasoning and and its conclusion. I predicted the outcome and told the lawyer involved here that he was pursuing the wrong path.

The opening words of the decision basically tells all we need to know. it says that the homeowner borrowed the money from the party set forth on the note. There is no question raised as to whether or not the party set forth on that note as the payee was in fact the lender. After that, it was all downhill.

The only way these cases can be won is by showing the money trail first. That is what reveals the actual parties to the transaction. Then by showing that the money trail does not track or follow the paper trail you can argue standing, and the fact that the mortgage lien was never perfected. That is the only thing that can stop a foreclosure.

It only makes sense that the courts as a whole are not going to let people off the hook unless the adversary has no right to receive the benefits. If you start with the premise that the loan was made just like it says in the note, you might as well pack your bags and go home. The courts are not going to refuse to enforce an obligation they think is real and which is not challenged by the debtor. The business of some coffee spilled on the document thus rendering the document unenforceable is not going to work and it isn’t working. Nor should it.

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET THAT IS GOING TO STOP ENFORCEMENT OF WHAT IS OBVIOUSLY AND ADMITTEDLY A LEGITIMATE DEBT. IT IS THE DEBT ITSELF AND THE COMPARISON TO THE PAPERWORK THAT LAWYERS SHOULD CONCENTRATE THEIR ATTENTION. Then you will see a tsunami of decisions in favor of the borrower because the transaction described in the note, the mortgage, the assignments and the pleadings do not exist. Pierce through the smoke and mirrors of Wall Street and you will find nothing to support their position.

The lawyers who insist on maintaining their focus of attention on the paperwork are simply guilty of mental masturbation. They get paid and the client suffer the consequences. With this latest decision, there should be little doubt that looking for a “gimmick” way out of this is not going to work. Foreclosure defense lawyers need to show that the party seeking the benefit of of foreclosure is not entitled to it.

Who is the DEADBEAT: Borrower or Bank?

Many thanks to Danielle Kelley, Esq. for appearing on last night’s members’ teleconference. I forgot to give the number out for the firm: 850-765-1236

Just to cap it off, here is her Post from yesterday at Danielle Kelley Blog:

Danielle Kelley, Esq.

The propaganda from the banks has been far-reaching.   Even if they devised a scheme to fraudulently throw away a homeowner’s hope at a modification, they are still pursuing the “deadbeat” homeowner argument.  The essence is that the homeowner was not paying, so it doesn’t matter what happened after the homeowner defaulted.

That “deadbeat” argument is a myth.  Whenever I interview a client, I am careful not to lead them.  I simply ask the question, “What caused you to go into default?”.  Nine times out of ten I will hear, “The bank said I had to be so many months behind to help me.”  Or in the alternative, “My payments kept increasing and I didn’t know why.  I called the bank to ask and they told me that unless I was behind in payments they couldn’t help.”  After that the homeowner is left at the mercy of bank who is pretending to consider them for a modification, but yet fraudulently thwarting that process.

The first answer is the “stop payment” answer, which I have discussed in a previous blog.  The second answer is now what I call the “bait and switch” on escrow accounts.  Homeowners who pay monthly to the bank, unless agreed otherwise, expect the bank to take part of that payment and pay the taxes and insurance on the property with it.  If the bank does not, the escrow account goes into the negative and the homeowner has to make up the difference in the payment.  It is called an “escrow shortage”.  And no one is immune, not even those who pay every month, on time, and would not dare to consider themselves as people who would fall into foreclosure.

I have seen it time and again.  In one case, BOA inflated the escrow account $12,000 which resulted in a payment of $900 more per month.  That very case would become my own, with my father on our Note.  When he called to ask “why” the payments were going up he was given the script “To get that $900 off you need help.  We can’t help you because you are current on your payments.  You need to show us you need our help by making a partial payment.”  Later when the partial payment was not applied, BOA stated that to be considered for a modification we had to stop paying altogether.  Left with four years of modification attempts in bad faith, we were requested by BOA (in order to keep the modification file open) to record a quit claim deed to myself and my husband which came with a high price for documentary stamps.  We were told to submit letters to the bank, and then told we could not mention the “stop payment” language in them.  The letters had to be all about how we were suffering a “hardship” with no blame pointed towards the bank.  The reasoning?  They had to get Freddie Mac, the loan “owner”, to approve a modification, and Freddie wouldn’t dare approve a modification if BOA had done something wrong.  To this day, BOA wants to pursue a foreclosure, yet they have absolutely no explanation for what inflated the escrow account to begin with.

In another case, unrelated to me, other than my representation of my client, the bank stopped paying the insurance in full.  The homeowner had no idea that the insurance policy had lapsed until a year later when they were asked to make up for an escrow deficiency.  At a payment climbing hundreds of dollars more than they ever agreed to pay, when they had been making their payments in full and counting on the bank, per the mortgage contract, to pay the insurance, they were now faced with payments they should have never been liable for.  They were not a “deadbeat”.  They were paying in full all along.

Then the truth is brought to light, and the deadbeat argument fails because we learn that no one, not one person, is immune from this.  If a homeowner is making monthly payments and depending on a bank to pay the taxes and insurance, they are at the mercy of the bank. And often to a bank like BOA who is seeking to foreclose loans to get them off of their books, as their own employee declarations filed in the HAMP case in Massachusetts show us.

They have no incentive not to deliberately inflate a homeowner’s escrow account and cause the payment to rise to the point where the homeowner calls them and eventually ends up in default.  Their own employees have stated that they profit from foreclosures over modifications.

So before the argument is bought that the homeowner in foreclosure is a “deadbeat”, know this much, the bank can cause you to become a “deadbeat” too, even if every payment is made in full and right on time.

The Goal is Foreclosures and the Public, the Government and the Courts Be Damned

13 Questions Before You Can Foreclose

foreclosure_standards_42013 — this one works for sure

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our South Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. In Northern Florida and the Panhandle call 850-765-1236. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

SEE ALSO: http://WWW.LIVINGLIES-STORE.COM

The selection of an attorney is an important decision  and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available TO PROVIDE ACTIVE LITIGATION SUPPORT to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

Danielle Kelley, Esq. is a partner in the firm of Garfield, Gwaltney, Kelley and White (GGKW) in Tallahassee, Florida 850-765-1236

EDITOR’S NOTE: SOMETIMES IT PAYS TO SHOW YOUR EXASPERATION. Danielle was at a hearing recently where all she wanted was to enforce a permanent modification for which her client had already been approved by Bank of America and BOA was trying to get out of it and pursue foreclosure even though the deal was done and there was no good or valid business reason why they would oppose a modification they already approved — except that they want to lure people into defaults and foreclosure to avoid liability for buy-backs, insurance, and credit default swap proceeds they received.

They need the foreclosure because that is the stamp of approval that the loans were valid and the securitization wasn’t a sham. Without the foreclosure, they stand to lose not only a lot of money in paybacks, but their very existence. Right now they are carrying assets that are fictitious and they are not reporting liabilities that are very real. At the end of the day, the public will see and even government officials whose “Services” have been purchased by the banks will not be able to deny that the nation’s top banks are broke and are neither too big to fail nor too big to jail. When that happens, our economy will start to recover ans the flow of credit and funds resumes and the banks’ stranglehold on government and on our society will end, at least until the next time.

THIS IS WHAT DANIELLE KELLEY WROTE TO ME AFTER THE HEARING:

 At the hearing against BOA on an old case of mine and Bill’s [William GWALTNEY, partner in GGKW] today I moved to enforce settlement. They actually agreed to a trial payment with my client in writing at mediation 2 years ago. The Judge granted the motion and wants a hearing in 60 days on the arrears (which he agreed my client isn’t liable for), sanctions and fees. She made her payment post-mediation and they sent the checks back. I gave him the Massachusetts affidavits from the BOA employees.  The Judge looked shocked. Opposing Counsel argued the Massachusetts case had nothing to do with our case.
Judge said “Mrs. Kelley how about I enter an order telling Plaintiff they have so many days to resolve this?”  I said “with all due respect your Honor BOA hasn’t listened to the OCC and followed the consent order, they haven’t listened to DOJ on the consent judgement and they are violating the AG settlement. I can assure you 100% they won’t listen to this Court either. Once we leave this room we are at the mercy of BOA actually working with us and their own attorney nor this court can get them to.  Their own attorney couldn’t reach them yesterday or today.  My client was to send in one utility bill two years ago. She sent it the day after mediation and they’ve sat and racked up two years of arrears and fees. This court has the power to sanction that behavior under rule 1.730 and should because this was orchestrated. The Massachusetts case is a federal class action which includes Florida homeowners like my client. It says Florida on the Motion for class certification so it does matter in this case. This was a scheme and a fraud.  It was planned and deliberate”.
Opposing counsel wanted to start the modification process over because the mediation agreement said “Upon completion of the trial payments Defendant will be eligible for a permanent modification”. Opposing counsel said “just because they meet the trial payments doesn’t mean they get a permanent mod.”  I said “under the consent judgment they better” and told the judge we were not going through the modification again, my client had already been approved. He agreed and said that the trial would become permanent and ordered BOA to provide an address for payment. He told opposing counsel that the argument that a trial period wouldn’t become permanent wasn’t going to work for him.
I love the 14th circuit. There is a great need from here to Pensacola and in the smaller counties like I was in today you can actually get somewhere.
Now the banks won’t even say impasse at mediation. It’s always “no agreement”.   But they’ll tell you to send in documents the next week only to say they didn’t get them. Now after those affidavits I see why.

Danielle Kelley, Esq.

Garfield, Gwaltney, Kelley & White
4832 Kerry Forest Parkway, Suite B
Tallahassee, Florida 32309
(850) 765-1236

 FOLLOW DANIELLE KELLEY, ESQ. ON HER BLOG

BOA “SENIOR COLLECTOR”: “I lied because I was told to lie.”

Want to know why the blog is called “Living Lies”? Then read this:

see affidavit.boa3.djk

see also Memorandum to Certify Class: Editor’s Note: This is where the banks are at their most vulnerable.. They have gone to great lengths to create the illusion that they were modifying loans or even willing to do so when in fact what they really wanted and needed is a foreclosure sale to prevent them from getting hammered on liability for stealing the investors’ money and for diversion of both assets and money from the investors and from what would have been a benefit to borrowers. memotocertifyclass. I believe that there are monetary damages that could be awarded particularly when the pretender lender cannot come up with an allegation and proof of financial injury. Opportunities to sell or refinance the home were thwarted both by the pending foreclosure action and the negative credit reporting from non-creditors. People who have had their credit scores tanked by the pretender lenders should write to the credit reporting agencies and tell them that the report is false and fraudulent — that you never owed any money to the entity that entered the negative report.

Practice Hint: Get the name of the person and confirm their telephone, email, fax and physical address. Tell them you are recording the conversation for training purposes. And then record it.

This affidavit shows exactly why you need people are both lawyers and forensic computer experts to assist on most cases. Law firms lacking these resources and lacking private investigators, are not equipped well enough to do battle with these lying behemoths. If they are charging low fees just to sign you up, their chances are diminished that they can do anything besides delay a wrongful foreclosure instead of beating it.

This affidavit is an example of why the entire foreclosure process is going to unravel in the near future. Previously judges were resisting pleading, argument and discovery direct it at the credibility and truthfulness of affidavits and live testimony in court if they were submitted by a well-known bank or other institution supposedly acting on behalf of a bank. As time passed more and more judges were beginning to discern inconsistencies in the pleading and proof of the banks. But they still thought that the banks were most likely in possession of “the truth” and that any representation from the bank should be treated as credible whereas any representation from the borrower should be treated as dilatory at best.

Bank of America has taken the position that its house is totally in order. They even got the Atty. Gen. of the state of New York to back off of a lawsuit that was eventually filed only against HSBC. Danielle Kelly, Esq., of the firm of Garfield, Gwaltney, Kelley and White is writing an article about affidavits (in support of foreclosing) signed by people with no idea of what they contain (or knowing that they are lies), including the description of the signor as someone with authority to do so. You’ll see that article shortly, so I won’t belabor the point. I’ll simply quote the following from an affidavit of a supposedly senior person at BOA filed in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.:

Using the Bank of America computer systems I saw that hundreds of customers had made their required trial payments, sent the documents requested of them, but had not received permanent modifications. I also saw records showing that Bank of America employees have told people that  documents had not been received when, in fact, the computer system showed that Bank of America had received the documents. This was consistent with the instructions my colleagues and I were given. We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested, and that it had not received trial payments (when in fact it had). We were told that admitting that the bank received documents would “open a can of worms” since the bank was required to underwrite a loan modification within 30 days of receiving those documents and it did not have sufficient underwriting staff to complete the underwriting in that time…. Site leaders regularly told us that the more we delayed the HAMP modification process, the more fees Bank of America would collect. We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending the lay of the … modification process by any means we could —  this included lying to customers. For example, we were instructed by our supervisors at Bank of America to delay modifications by telling homeowners who called in at their documents were “under review,” when, in fact, there had been no review or any other work done on the file.

Employees who were caught admitting that Bank of America had received financial documents or that the borrower was actually entitled to a permanent loan modification where discipline and often terminated without warning.

The only other thing that I would state at this point is that Bank of America did not merely lie to its customers. Bank of America makes a practice of lying to its own staff. While the use of a “nonperforming” loan are higher than the fees paid on a  “performing” loan, the real reason for this outrageous behavior is that the banks are attempting to protect and maintain their receipt of outrageous sums of money that they have declared to be proprietary trading profits. As I have stated before these banks are intermediaries. They are not and never were principals or real parties in interest in any transaction between the homeowner and the investors who put up the money.

As partial explanation of what I am talking about, consider this: you order a brand-new TV on Amazon using one of your many plastic cards. The vendor is (by way of example) Best Buy. Your account is debited $1000 which is exactly the amount you agreed to pay. Later, you find out that Best Buy accepted $600 for the TV and the intermediaries kept the other $400.  You also find out that during the shipping process the intermediaries took possession of the TV and intentionally dropped it 30 times to make sure that it wouldn’t work. During that process you learn that the intermediaries each paid for a contract of insurance using your money. Sure enough, the TV arrives in 1000 pieces. Each of the intermediaries receives full payment for the TV probably at the original purchase price of $1000. The intermediaries tell you that your problem is with Best Buy because that is the vendor in the transaction. Best Buy tells you that the TV was just fine when it left its distribution center and directs you to one of the intermediaries that handled either the shipment or the payment for the shipment. You are left going around in circles and you get worn out or you accept a settlement that is worth far less than the TV you purchased.

Now comes the fun part. The issuer of the credit card wants you to repay them $1000 at the end of the month or pay monthly installments with an interest rate of 24%. All you know is that you got screwed but you’re not entirely sure how that happened. The purpose of this blog is to educate you gradually on how you got screwed and why you are not a deadbeat; instead, you are a pawn in a very large Ponzi scheme.

Garfield, Gwaltney, Kelley & White

4832 Kerry Forest Parkway, Suite B

Tallahassee, Florida 32309

(850) 765-1236

More News:

http://www.fbi.gov/lasvegas/press-releases/2013/former-chief-executive-officer-of-mortgage-servicing-company-pleads-guilty-to-bank-fraud-in-scheme-to-withhold-funds-from-wells-fargo-bank  – But they won’t go after Wells?  Makes a lot of sense

From Danielle Kelley, Esq. : The affidavits filed with the Court in Massachusetts by BOA and Urban employees are infuriating.   I particularly like the one that talks about the gift cards and $500 bonus payments to employees who had high foreclosure numbers and the one about the “Blitz” where as many as 1,500 modification applications would be denied several times a month based on production numbers whether the homeowners truly qualified for a modification or not. Selling out homeowners while collecting federal incentives to “pretend” to consider them for a federal modification program and then behind closed doors giving Target gift cards to employees who have high foreclosure numbers? 

BOA, Urban Lending Sued in Qui Tam by WHistleblower: They never intended to modify the loans

Just a quick note as follow up to my article this morning. Read this qui tam complaint and see how it corroborates the facts and theories presented on this blog. Note the following quote: ” these mechanisms of fraud were and are interconnected and directly observed by Relator Mackler, who worked with various BOA executives while at Urban Lending Solutions beginning in April 2010. BOA outsources various HAMP obligations to Urban. Upon witnessing the unlawful, fraudulent practices listed above, among others, Mackler brought his concerns to the highest levels of Urban and to executives at Bank of America. Eventually, his objections to these practices led to his termination on March 17, 2011.”

US ATTORNEY GOT THIS DISMISSED BUT ANOTHER ONE IS PENDING IN MASSACHUSETTS UNDER SEAL.

Read, plagiarize This, and use it: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/324428-greg-mackler-complaint.html

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/08/440628/whistleblower-claims-bofa-blocked-help/?mobile=nc

Barofsky: We Are Headed for a Cliff Because of Housing

Editor’s Note: Hera research conducted an interview with Neil Barofsky that I think should be  read in its entirety but here the the parts that I thought were important. The After Words are from Hera.

After Words

According to Neil Barofsky, another financial crisis is all but inevitable and the cost will be even higher than the 2008 financial crisis. Based on the way that the TARP and HAMP programs were implemented, and on the watering down of the Dodd-Frank bill, it appears that big banks are calling the shots in Washington D.C. The Dodd-Frank bill left risk concentrated in a few large institutions while doing nothing to remove perverse incentives that encourage risk taking while shielding bank executives from accountability. Neither of the two main U.S. political parties or presidential candidates are willing to break up “too big to fail” banks, despite the gravity of the problem. The assumption that another financial crisis can be prevented when the causes of the 2008 crisis remain in place, or have become worse, is unrealistic. In the mean time, what Mr. Barofsky describes as a “parade of scandals” involving highly unethical and likely criminal behavior is set to continue unabated. Although the timing and specific areas of risk are not yet known, there is no doubt that U.S. taxpayers will be stuck with another multi-trillion dollar bill when the next crisis hits.

*Post courtesy of Hera Research. Hera Research focuses on value investing in natural resources based on original geopolitical, macroeconomic and financial market analysis related to global supply and demand and competition for natural resources

Excerpts from Interview:

HR: Did the TARP help to restore confidence in U.S. institutions and financial markets?

Neil Barofsky: Yes, but it was intended and required by Congress to do much more than that and Treasury said that it was going to deploy the money into banks to increase lending, which it never did.

HR: Were the initial goals of the TARP realistic?

Neil Barofsky: First, if the goals were unachievable, Treasury officials should never have promised to undertake them as part of the bargain. Second, even if the goals were not entirely achievable, it would have been worth trying. Treasury officials didn’t even try to meet the goals.

HR: Can you give a specific example?

Neil Barofsky: The justification for putting money into banks was that it was going to increase lending. Having used that justification, there was an obligation, in my view, to take policy steps to achieve that goal, but Treasury officials didn’t even try to do it. The way it was implemented, there were no conditions or incentives to increase lending.

HR: What policy steps could the U.S. Department of the Treasury have taken to help the economy?

Neil Barofsky: There are all sorts of things that Treasury could have done. For example, they could have reduced the dividend rate—the amount of money that the banks had to pay in exchange for being bailed out—for lending over a baseline, which would have decreased the bank’s obligations. Or, they could have insisted on greater transparency so that banks had to disclose what they were doing with the funds. Treasury chose not to do any of these things.

HR: Weren’t there other housing programs like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)?

Neil Barofsky: Yes, but there were choices made to help the balance sheets of struggling banks rather than homeowners. The HAMP program was a massive failure but it wasn’t preordained. It was the result of choices made by Treasury officials.

HR: What could have been done differently in the HAMP?

Neil Barofsky: HAMP was deeply flawed with conflicts of interest baked into the program. The management of the program was outsourced to the mortgage servicers, which were thoroughly unprepared and ill equipped. The program encouraged servicers to extend out trial modifications. It was supposed to be a three month period but it often turned into more than a year. The servicers, because they could accumulate late fees for each month during the trial period, were incentivized to string the trial periods out then pull the rug out from under the homeowner, putting them into foreclosure, without granting a permanent mortgage modification. The servicers could make more money doing that then by doing mortgage modifications. If they had done permanent mortgage modifications, the banks couldn’t have kept the late fees.

HR: Are you saying that the program encouraged banks to extract as much cash as possible from homeowners before foreclosing on them anyway?

Neil Barofsky: Yes. The mortgage servicers exploited the conflicts of interest that were in the program, and blatantly broke the rules, and Treasury did nothing.

HR: When you were serving as Inspector General for TARP, you issued a report indicating that government commitments totaled $23.7 trillion. What was that about?

Neil Barofsky: $23.7 trillion was simply the sum of the maximum commitments for all the financial programs related to the financial crisis. The number was misconstrued as a liability but the government never stood to lose that much. For example, the government guarantee of money market funds was a multi-trillion dollar commitment. Of course, not all of that money could have been lost because it would have required every fund to go to zero. The government guaranteed commercial paper but, again, for that commitment to have been wiped out, every company would have had to have defaulted. But the numbers were very important in terms of transparency. All of the data were provided by the agencies responsible for the various programs, so the $23.7 trillion number was simple arithmetic. It was important to understand the scope of the extraordinary actions that were being taken.

HR: What are the potential future losses that the U.S. government—that taxpayers—might have to absorb?

Neil Barofsky: The real issue is the potential for another financial crisis because we haven’t fixed the core problems of our financial system. We still have banks that are “too big to fail.” Standard & Poor’s estimated last year that the up-front cost of another crisis, including bailing out the biggest banks yet again, would be roughly 1/3 of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) or about $5 trillion. The resulting problems will be even bigger.

HR: What were the problems resulting from the 2008 financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: When you look at the fiscal impact of the 2008 crisis, you have to look at it not only in terms of lost tax revenues and increased government debt, but also in terms of the loss of household wealth. People who became unemployed suffered tremendous losses and the government’s social benefit costs expanded accordingly. One of the reasons we had the debt ceiling debate last year, when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded, and why we are facing a fiscal cliff ahead is the legacy of the 2008 crisis.

We have a lot less dry powder to deal with a new crisis and we almost certainly will have one.

HR: Why do you expect another financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: It just comes down to incentives. A normally functioning free market disciplines businesses. The presumption of bailout for “too big to fail” institutions changes the incentives of a normally functioning free market. In a free market, if an institution loads up on risky assets with too little capital standing behind them, it will be punished by the market. Institutions will refuse to lend them money without extracting a significant penalty. Counterparties will be wary of doing business with companies that have too much risk and too little capital. Allowing “too big to fail” institutions to exist removes that discipline. The presumption is that the government will stand in and make the obligations whole even if the bank blows up. That basic perversion of the free market incentivizes additional risk.

HR: Are “too big to fail” banks taking more risks today than they did before?

Neil Barofsky: Bailouts give bank executives an incentive to max out short term profits and get huge bonuses, because if the bank blows up, taxpayers will pick up the tab. The presumption of bailout increases systemic risk by taking away the incentives of creditors and counterparties to do their jobs by imposing market discipline and by incentivizing banks to act in ways that make a bailout more likely to occur.

HR: Is it just a matter of the size of banking institutions?

Neil Barofsky: The big banks are 20-25% bigger now than they were before the crisis. The “too big to fail” banks are also too big to manage effectively. They’ve become Frankenstein monsters. Even the most gifted executives can’t manage all of the risks, which increases the likelihood of a future bailout.

HR: Since bank executives are accountable to their shareholders, won’t they regulate themselves?

Neil Barofsky: The big banks are not just “too big to fail,” they’re ‘too big to jail.’ We’ve seen zero criminal cases arising out of the financial crisis. The reality is that these large institutions can’t be threatened with indictment because if they were taken down by criminal charges, they would bring the entire financial system down with them. There is a similar danger with respect to their top executives, so they won’t be indited in a federal criminal case almost no matter what they do. The presumption of bailout thus removes for the executives the disincentive in pushing the ethical envelope. If people know they won’t be held accountable, that too will encourage more risk taking in the drive towards profits.

HR: So, it’s just a matter of time before there’s another crisis?

Neil Barofsky: Yes. The same incentives that led to the 2008 crisis are still in place today and in many ways the situation is worse. We have a financial system that concentrates risk in just a handful of large institutions, incentivizes them to take risks, guarantees that they will never be allowed to fail and ensures that the executives will never be held accountable for their actions. We shouldn’t be surprised when there’s another massive financial crisis and another massive bailout. It would be naïve to expect a different result.

HR: Didn’t the Dodd-Frank bill fix the financial system?

Neil Barofsky: Nothing has been done to remove the presumption of bailout, which is as damaging as the actual bailout. Perception becomes reality. It’s perception that ensures that counterparties and creditors will not perform proper due diligence and it’s perception that encourages them to continue doing business with firms that have too much risk and inadequate capital. It’s perception of bailout that drives executives to take more and more risk. Nothing has been done to address this. The initial policy response by Treasury Secretaries Paulson and Geithner, and by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, was to consolidate the industry further, which has only made the problems worse.

HR: The Dodd-Frank bill contains 2,300 pages of new regulations. Isn’t that enough?

Neil Barofsky: There are tools within Dodd-Frank that could help regulators, but we need to go beyond it. The parade of recent scandals and the fact that big banks are pushing the ethical and judicial envelopes further than ever before makes it clear that Dodd-Frank has done nothing, from a regulatory standpoint, to prevent highly unethical and likely criminal behavior.

HR: Is the Dodd-Frank bill a failure?

Neil Barofsky: The whole point of Dodd-Frank was to end the era of “too big to fail” banks. It’s fairly obvious that it hasn’t done that. In that sense, it has been a failure. Dodd-Frank probably has been helpful in the short term because it increased capital ratios, although not nearly enough. If we ever get over the counter (OTC) derivatives under control, that would be a good thing and Dodd-Frank takes some initial steps in that direction. I think that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a good thing.

Nonetheless, the financial system is largely in the hands of the same executives, who have become more powerful, while the banks themselves are bigger and more dangerous to the economy than before.

HR: How are OTC derivatives related to the risk of a new financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: Credit default swaps (CDS) were specifically what brought down AIG, and synthetic CDOs, which are entirely dependent on derivatives contracts, contributed significantly to the financial crisis. When you look at the mind numbing notional values of OTC derivatives, which are in the hundreds of trillions, the taxpayer is basically standing behind the institutions participating in these very opaque and, potentially, very dangerous markets. OTC derivatives could be where the risks come from in the next financial crisis.

HR: Can anything be done to prevent another financial crisis?

Neil Barofsky: We have to get beyond having institutions, any one of which can bring down the financial system. For example, Wells Fargo alone does 1/3rd of all mortgage originations. Nothing can ever happen to Wells Fargo because it could bring down the entire economy. We need to break up the “too big to fail” banks. We have to make them small enough to fail so that the free market can take over again.

HR: Does the political will exist to break up the largest banks?

Neil Barofsky: The center of neither party is committed to breaking up “too big to fail” banks. Of course, pretending that Dodd-Frank solved all our problems, as some Democrats do, or simply saying that big banks won’t be bailed out again, as some Republicans have suggested, is unrealistic. Congress needs to proactively break up the “too big to fail” banks through legislation. Whether that’s through a modified form of Glass-Steagall, size or liability caps, leverage caps or remarkably higher capital ratios, all of which are good ideas, we need to take on the largest banks.

HR: Do you think the U.S. presidential election will change anything?

Neil Barofsky: No. There’s very little daylight between Romney and Obama on the crucial issue of “too big to fail” banks. Romney recently said, basically, that he thinks big banks are great and the Obama Administration fought against efforts to break up “too big to fail” banks in the Dodd-Frank bill. Geithner, serving the Obama White House, lobbied against the Brown-Kaufman Act, which would have broken up the “too big to fail” banks.

HR: What will it take for U.S. lawmakers to finally take on the largest banks?

Neil Barofsky: Some candidates have made reforms like reinstating Glass-Steagall part of their campaigns but the size and power of the largest banks in terms of lobbying campaign contributions is incredible. It may well take another financial crisis before we deal with this.

HR: Thank you for your time today.

Neil Barofsky: It was my pleasure.

Szymoniak: Honesty Pays $46.5 Million in Whistleblower Suit

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Editor’s Comment and Analysis:  

It was and remains a big lie — the securitization the loans, the origination of the loans, the assignments, alleges and endorsements. $46.5 million sounds like a lot and these whistleblowers will get a “windfall” as a result of it. But it is a drop in the bucket and we need to fill the bucket. And our bucket list should include taking down the big banks, removing money from politics, and getting back to government by the people and for the people.

Schiller, the scholar who has been leading the way in economic analysis of the housing market, has offered an audacious plan that is the last possible way for government intervention to save the economy, which is heavily dependent upon consumer spending, particularly in the housing market. Eminent domain has long been sustain as the right of government to take private property and convert it to public use. Whether it is a highway, downtown redevelopment or other reasons, eminent domain has been played by the banks and developers as a way to get land they need, at a price that could not be achieved using the power of the government behind them. 

While seemingly unusual and audacious, Schiller’s proposition has many precedents in history and should be considered as the last great hope after the 50 attorney generals agreed in the 50 state settlement that now prevents them from further investigation and prosecution against the banks. Schiller’s, the originator of the case-Schiller index showing that median income and income disparity is harmful to the economy and deadly to the housing market, proposes that we use the power of eminent domain to seize the remaining mortgages, and perhaps the property that has already been foreclosed, and remake the deals so that they make sense. Translating that means that the homeowners will get the deal that they should have received when they bought o refinanced their house. And it capitalizes on the inconvenient truth that it was the banks who created risks that neither the investors nor the homeowners signed up for.

By paying the value of the remaining mortgages — more than 30% are reported still under water and when carefully analyzed the figure is closer to 60%, the banks get no more and no less than they should, the investors still get their money — 100 cents on the dollar if they insist on payback from the banks in addition to the money from the new mortgages on the old property, and the homeowner is back in charge of his own home paying principal, interest, costs, fees and insurance and taxes that are fair market value indicators. It is better than the proceeds of foreclosures, so the banks now must argue that they have a right to take less money in order to get the foreclosure.

The banks want the foreclosure because they lied. And with the foreclosure it adds to the illusion that they funded or paid for loans in which they do not have a nickel invested. The fact that the balance sheets of the mega banks are going to take a giant hit is only an admission that the assets they are reporting are either not worth anything or are worth far less than the value shown on their public financial statements. They are still lying about that to investors, the SEC and other regulatory agencies.

So whistleblowers must pave the way and show the lies, show the inequality, show the inflated appraisals that could not stand the test of time and force government to act as it should. The chief law enforcement of the country and the chief law enforcement of each state owes his/her citizens at least that much and more. They must find ways to clear up the corruption of title records that are irretrievably lost. 

And the lawyers who keep turning down these cases because they are too complex or too weak should take a close look at these whistleblower  cases. The settlement, as always, comes before the trial because the fact remains that the banks are o the hook for  their bets on the mortgages and not the mortgages themselves. Lawyers need to show a little guts and seek some glory and wealth from these cases, while at the same time doing their country a service.

We are turning the corner and the banks are starting to lose. Keep up the fight and your effort will probably go well-rewarded.

Whistleblowers win $46.5 million in foreclosure settlement

By James O’Toole

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Getting served with foreclosure papers made Lynn Szymoniak rich.

While she couldn’t have known it at the time, that day in 2008 led to her uncovering widespread fraud on the part of some of the country’s biggest banks, and ultimately taking home $18 million as a result of her lawsuits against them. Szymoniak is one of six Americans who won big in the national foreclosure settlement, finalized earlier this year, as a result of whistleblower suits. In total, they collected $46.5 million, according to the Justice Department.

In the settlement, the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders –Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Ally Financial — agreed to pay $5 billion in fines and committed to roughly $20 billion more in refinancing and mortgage modifications for borrowers.

A judge signed off on the agreement in April, and in May — Szymoniak received her cut.

“I recognize that mine’s a very, very happy ending,” she said. “I know there are plenty of people who have tried as hard as I have and won’t see these kinds of results.”

Related: 30% of borrowers underwater

Whistleblower suits stem from the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the U.S. when they have knowledge that the government is being defrauded. These citizens are then entitled to collect a portion of any penalties assessed in their case.

The act was originally passed in 1863, during a time when government officials were concerned that suppliers to the Union Army during the Civil War could be defrauding them.

In 1986, Congress modified the law to make it easier for whistleblowers to bring cases and giving them a larger share of any penalties collected. Whistleblowers can now take home between 15% and 30% of the sums collected in their cases. In the cases addressed in the foreclosure settlement, the whistleblowers revealed that banks were gaming federal housing programs by failing to comply with their terms or submitting fraudulent documents.

In Szymoniak’s case alone, the government collected $95 million based on her allegations that the banks had been using false documents to prove ownership of defaulted mortgages for which they were submitting insurance claims to the Federal Housing Administration.

The FHA is a self-funded government agency that offers insurance on qualifying mortgages to encourage home ownership. In the event of a default on an FHA-insured mortgage, the FHA pays out a claim to the lender.

Szymoniak’s case was only partially resolved by the foreclosure settlement, and she could be in line for an even larger payout when all is said and done.

As an attorney specializing in white-collar crime, the 63-year-old Floridian was well-placed to spot an apparent forgery on one of the documents in her foreclosure case, one she saw repeated in dozens of others she examined later.

“At this point, the banks are incredibly powerful in this country, but you just have to get up every morning and do what you can,” she said.

The other five whistleblowers in the settlement came from the industry side, putting their careers at risk by flagging the banks’ questionable practices.

Kyle Lagow, who won $14.6 million in the settlement, worked as a home appraiser in Texas for LandSafe, a subsidiary of Countrywide Financial. He accused the company in a lawsuit of deliberately inflating home appraisals in order to collect higher claims from the FHA, and said he was fired after making complaints internally.

Gregory Mackler, who won $1 million, worked for a company subcontracted by Bank of America to assist homeowners pursuing modifications through the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Under HAMP, the government offers banks incentive payments to support modifications.

Mackler said Bank of America violated its agreement with the government by deliberately preventing qualified borrowers from securing HAMP modifications, steering them toward foreclosure or more costly modifications from which it could make more money. He, too, claims to have been fired after complaining internally.

There’s also Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly, executives from a Georgia mortgage services firm who accused the banks of overcharging veterans whose mortgages were guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, thereby increasing their default risk. Bibby and Donnelly won $11.7 million in the settlement; their attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

Shayne Stevenson, an attorney who represented both Lagow and Mackler, said the two weren’t aware of possible rewards when they first brought their evidence to his firm.

“The reality of it is that most of the time, whistleblowers don’t even know about the False Claims Act — they don’t know they can make money,” Stevenson said. Both his clients, Stevenson added, “just wanted the government to know about this fraud, so they deserve every penny that they got.”

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on individual cases, but said the national settlement was “part of our ongoing strategy to put these issues, particularly these legacy issues with Countrywide, behind us.” BofA acquired mortgage lender Countrywide in 2008, thereby incurring the firm’s legal liabilities.

The other banks involved either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Related: Foreclosures spike 9%

While the whistleblowers in the settlement scored big paydays in the end, the road wasn’t easy. Stevenson said his clients “were pushed to the brink” after raising their concerns, struggling to find work and beset by financial problems.

“They were facing evictions, foreclosure, running away from bills, trying to deal with creditors that were coming after them,” Stevenson said. “This went on and on and on, and this is part and parcel of what happens to whistleblowers.”

For Robert Harris, a former assistant vice president in JPMorgan’s Chase Prime division, the experience was similar.

Harris accused the bank of failing to assist borrowers seeking HAMP modifications and knowingly submitting false claims for government insurance based on wrongful foreclosures. He was stymied when he tried to complain internally, and says he was fired for speaking out.

While Harris ended up with a $1.2 million payout in the settlement, the father of five says he’s been blacklisted within the industry and exhausted by the ordeal.

“It completely turned my life upside down,” he said. “I’m trying to raise my kids, recover from a divorce, recover from the loss of my career — it just comes to down to surviving and putting this to an end.”

“I guarantee the other whistleblowers, too, have sacrificed a lot,” he added. “But to be able to sit back and sleep at night is worth it.”


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It’s Down to Banks vs Society

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We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process. — Economist Steve Keen

Bankers Are Willing to Let Society Crash In Order to Make More Money

Editor’s Comment: 

I was reminded last night of a comment from a former bond trader and mortgage bundler that the conference calls are gleeful about the collapse of economies and societies around the world. Wall Street will profit greatly on both the down side and then later when asset prices go so low that housing falls under distressed housing programs and 125% loans become available in bulk. They think this is all just swell. I don’t.

The obvious intent on the part of the mega banks and servicers is to bring everything down with a crash using every means possible. When you look at the offers state and federal government programs have offered for the banks to modify, when you see the amount of money poured into these banks by our federal government in order to prop them up, you cannot conclude otherwise: they want our society to end up closed down not only by foreclosure but in any other way possible. They withhold credit from everyone except the insider’s club.

So now it is up to us. Either we take the banks apart or they will take us apart. I had a recent look at many modification proposals. In the batch I saw, the average offer from the homeowner was to accept a loan 20%-30% higher than fair market value and 50%-75% higher than foreclosure is producing. It seems we are addicted to the belief that this can’t be true because no reasonable person would act like that. But the answer is that the system is rigged so that the intermediaries (the megabanks) control what the investors and homeowners see and hear, they make far more money on foreclosures than they do on modifications, and they make far money on all the “bets” about the failure of the loan by foreclosing and not modifying.

The reason for the unreasonable behavior, as it appears, is that it is perfectly reasonable in a lending environment turned on its head — where the object was to either fund a loan that was sure to fail, or keep a string attached that would declare it as part of a failed “pool” that would trigger insurance and swaps payments.Steve Keen: Why 2012 Is Shaping Up To Be A Particularly Ugly Year

At the high level, our global economic plight is quite simple to understand says noted Australian deflationist Steve Keen.

Banks began lending money at a faster rate than the global economy grew, and we’re now at the turning point where we simply have run out of new borrowers for the ever-growing debt the system has become addicted to.

Once borrowers start eschewing rather than seeking debt, asset prices begin to fall — which in turn makes these same people want to liquidate their holdings, which puts further downward pressure on asset prices:

The reason that we have this trauma for the asset markets is because of this whole relationship that rising debt has to the level of asset market. If you think about the best example is the demand for housing, where does it come from? It comes from new mortgages. Therefore, if you want to sustain he current price level of houses, you have to have a constant flow of new mortgages. If you want the prices to rise, you need the flow of mortgages to also be rising.

Therefore, there is a correlation between accelerating and rising asset markets. That correlation applies very directly to housing. You look at the 20-year period of the market relationship from 1990 to now; the correlation of accelerating mortgage debt with changing house prices is 0.8. It is a very high correlation.

Now, that means that when there is a period where private debt is accelerating you are generally going to see rising asset markets, which of course is what we had up to 2000 for the stock market and of course 2006 for the housing market. Now that we have decelerating debt — so debt is slowing down more rapidly at this time rather than accelerating — that is going to mean falling asset markets.

Because we have such a huge overhang of debt, that process of debt decelerating downwards is more likely to rule most of the time. We will therefore find the asset markets traumatizing on the way down — which of course encourages people to get out of debt. Therefore, it is a positive feedback process on the way up and it is a positive feedback process on the way down.

He sees all of the major countries of the world grappling with deflation now, and in many cases, focusing their efforts in exactly the wrong direction to address the root cause:

Europe is imploding under its own volition and I think the Euro is probably going to collapse at some stage or contract to being a Northern Euro rather than the whole of Euro. We will probably see every government of Europe be overthrown and quite possibly have a return to fascist governments. It came very close to that in Greece with fascists getting five percent of the vote up from zero. So political turmoil in Europe and that seems to be Europe’s fate.

I can see England going into a credit crunch year, because if you think America’s debt is scary, you have not seen England’s level of debt. America has a maximum ratio of private debt to GDP adjusted over 300%; England’s is 450%. America’s financial sector debt was 120% of GDP, England’s is 250%. It is the hot money capital of the western world.

And now that we are finally seeing decelerating debt over there plus the government running on an austerity program at the same time, which means there are two factors pulling on demand out of that economy at once. I think there will be a credit crunch in England, so that is going to take place as well.

America is still caught in the deleveraging process. It tried to get out, it seemed to be working for a short while, and the government stimulus seemed to certainly help. Now, that they are going back to reducing that stimulus, they are pulling up the one thing that was keeping the demand up in the American economy and it is heading back down again. We are now seeing the assets market crashing once more. That should cause a return to decelerating debt — for a while you were accelerating very rapidly and that’s what gave you a boost in employment —  so you are falling back down again.

Australia is running out of steam because it got through the financial crisis by literally kicking the can down the road by restarting the housing bubble with a policy I call the first-time vendors boost. Where they gave first time buyers a larger amount of money from the government and they handed over times five or ten to the people they bought the house off from the leverage they got from the banking sector. Therefore, that finally ran out for them.

China got through the crisis with an enormous stimulus package. I think in that case it is increasing the money supply by 28% in one year. That is setting off a huge property bubble, which from what I have heard from colleagues of mine is also ending.

Therefore, it is a particularly ugly year for the global economy and as you say, we are still trying to get business back to usual. We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process.

In order to successfully emerge on the other side of this this painful period with a more sustainable system, he believes the moral hazard of bailing out the banks is going to have end:

[The banks] have to suffer and suffer badly. They will have to suffer in such a way that in a decade they will be scared in order to never behave in this way again. You have to reduce the financial sector to about one third of its current size and we have to also ultimately set up financial institutions and financial instruments in such a way that it is no longer desirable from a public point of view to borrow and gamble in rising assets processes.

The real mistake we made was to let this gambling happen as it has so many times in the past, however, we let it go on for far longer than we have ever let it go on for before. Therefore, we have a far greater financial parasite and a far greater crisis.

And he offers an unconventional proposal for how this can be achieved:

I think the mistake [central banks] are going to make is to continue honoring debts that should never have been created in the first place. We really know that that the subprime lending was totally irresponsible lending. When it comes to saying “who is responsible for bad debt?” you have to really blame the lender rather than the borrower, because lenders have far greater resources to work out whether or not the borrower can actually afford the debt they are putting out there.

They were creating debt just because it was a way of getting fees, short-term profit, and they then sold the debt onto unsuspecting members of the public as well and securitized their way out of trouble. They ended up giving the hot potato to the public. So, you should not be honoring that debt, you should be abolishing it. But of course they have actually packaged a lot of that debt and sold it to the public as well, you cannot just abolish it, because you then would penalize people who actually thought they were being responsible in saving and buying assets.

Therefore, I am talking in favor of what I call a modern debt jubilee or quantitative easing for the public, where the central banks would create ‘central bank money’ (we cannot destroy or abolish the debt, which would also destroy the incomes of the people who own the bonds the banks have sold). We have to create the state money and give it to the public, but on condition that if you have any debt you have to pay your debt down — no choice. Therefore, if you have debt, you can reduce the debt level, but if you do not have debt, you get a cash injection.

Of course, this would then feed into the financial sector would have to reduce the value of the debts that it currently owns, which means income from debt instruments would also fall. So, people who had bought bonds for their retirement and so on would find that their income would go down, but on the other hand, they would be compensated by a cash injection.

The one part of the system that would be reduced in size is the financial sector itself. That is the part we have to reduce and we have to make smaller.  That is the one that I am putting forward and I think there is a very little chance of implementing it in America for the next few years not all my home country [Australia] because we still think we are doing brilliantly and all that. But, I think at some stage in Europe, and possibly in a very short time frame, that idea might be considered.

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Fine Print: The Real Story on the “$25 Billion” Multistate Settlement

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One of the things I heard from a high ranking official in state government is that only a tiny fraction of the “settlement” is translating into actual dollars from the banks to anyone. In Arizona the $1.3 billion is subject to an “earn-down” as it was described to me and the net amount turned out to be $97 million and then on the website for the attorney general of the state, the $97 million became $47 million.

So I brought up my calculator and discovered that out of the “settlement” the banks were paying themselves around $1.2 billion out of the $1.3 billion (some say it is $1.6 billion, but the net left for the state remains unchanged at $97 million) and that some of the balance of the money is “unaccounted for.” By the way this has NOTHING to do with the Arizona Department of Housing, which is as close to non-political as you can get in any government.

So in plain language, the banks are taking money from their left pocket and putting int heir right pocket and saying it was a deal. This sounds a lot like the fake claims of securitization and assignment of debt on housing, student loans, credit cards, auto loans etc. In the end, no money will move except a tiny percentage because since the banks are simply paying themselves out of their own money how bad can the accounting be for them?

In Arizona, the legislature decided, as per the terms of the “settlement” to take the money and use it as part of general operating funds leaving distressed homeowners with nothing. So now there is something of an uproar in Arizona. Here is a $1.3 billion settlement that could have reversed a downward economic spiral for the state that will be felt for decades, and we end up with only 7% of that figure and then at least half, if not all of that is being taken for uses other than homeowner relief that is essential for economic recovery.

My guess is that they will say they are stopping the move to use the homeowner relief funds for perks to corporate donors and then quietly go out and do it anyway. What is your guess?

——————————————–

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

State officials agreed Tuesday to delay the transfer of $50 million of disputed mortgage settlement funds, at least for the time being.

Assistant Attorney General David Weinzweig made the offer during a hearing where challengers were hoping to get a court order blocking the move while its legality is being decided by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain. Attorney Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, who represents those opposed to the transfer, readily agreed.

“You don’t want to rush the judge,” said Hogan, whose clients are people he believes would be helped by the funds.

“You want him to take his time on important questions like this,” Hogan said. “And so it’s reasonable to agree not to transfer the funds for a certain period of time to give the judge the opportunity to do that.”

The move sets the stage for a hearing in August on the merits of the issue.

Weinzweig told Brain he believes the transfer, ordered by state lawmakers earlier this year, is legal. Anyway, he said, Hogan’s clients have no legal standing to challenge what the Legislature did.

The fight surrounds a $26 billion nationwide settlement with five major lenders who were accused of mortgage fraud.

Arizona’s share is about $1.6 billion, with virtually all of that earmarked for direct aid to those who are “under water” on their mortgages — owing more than their property is worth — or have already been forced out of their homes.

But the deal also provided $97 million directly to the state Attorney General’s Office. The terms of that pact said the cash was supposed to help others with mortgage problems as well as investigate and prosecute fraud.

Lawmakers, however, seized on language which also said the money can be used to compensate the state for the effects of the lenders’ actions. They said the result of the mortgage crisis was lower state revenues, giving them permission to take $50 million from the settlement to balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Hogan’s suit is based on his contention that the settlement terms put the entire $97 million in trust and makes Attorney General Tom Horne, who was authorized by state law to sign the deal, responsible for ensuring the cash is properly spent.

Horne urged lawmakers not to take the funds. But once the budget deal was done, he went along and took the position that, regardless of whether the cash could have been better spent elsewhere, the transfer demand is legal.

Whatever Brain rules is likely to be appealed.

The challenge was brought on behalf of two people who would benefit by the state having more money to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The lawsuit said both are currently “at risk” of losing their homes.

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