Modification Muddle

There is a great deal of conflict and confusion in the world of foreclosure defense about the prospect of modification. It is obvious that approvals are random only to create the impression that an entire system devoted to foreclosing on as many homes as possible is purportedly attempting to work with homeowners.

We all know that we are dealing with entities who have no right, title or interest to the loans or the servicing or the administration of them. Yet we are presented with a crazy hodgepodge of demands for paperwork so that the unauthorized servicer can “consider” and “get approval” from the “investor.”

If the terms are favorable to the homeowners, many homeowners are advised by me and others to accept the modification even though we know that we are not settling with anyone who has the right or authority to bring the claim, much less settle it. But the process of settlement/modification brings with it some potential opportunities to drill home your primary defense narrative.

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

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Tens of thousands of homeowners have reported to us that they are in conflict with their own attorneys about how to proceed — litigation or modification. This article is meant to convey the complexity of strategic legal decisions. Your attorney has not been bought off by the other side. Suggesting settlement is not a betrayal. It is called doing the job of a lawyer. The justice system runs on money. If you want all out war, then you must pay for it. If you can’t or won’t pay for it, then you must accept the probability of achieving less than your main goal.

Unless you are wiling to spend large amounts of money on fees such that the attorney is being paid to do all the research, all the analysis and all the strategic planning required to litigate, then you must accept the consequences of limited strategies in place of strategies that are designed to win the case. But modification represents a backdoor to beating your opposition using the same defense narrative as you are presently using in litigation.

We should not be annoyed with local counsel. We defer to local counsel always. This is not a contest. If local counsel deems it best that the homeowner settle then it should at least be pursued, but in the end it is the homeowner who decides what to accept.

The findings in the TERA report can be used as a reason to demand that the named Trustee of the named Trust acknowledge a settlement and the authority of whoever is negotiating the settlement.
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When the intermediary “servicers” refuse to present any signature from any officer of the purported “Trustee” of a purported “Trust” that owns the subject debt, the homeowner can go to court. This time the homeowner is armed with inequitable conduct by purported agents of the purported Plaintiff or foreclosing party.
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In court, the homeowner would say the purported “servicer” has proposed a settlement/modification that the homeowner has already accepted; but now the “servicer” refuses to have the Plaintiff (foreclosing party) execute any document memorializing the settlement/modification. Instead they are requiring acceptance of a signature from a person of unknown authority on behalf of a self-proclaimed servicer of unknown authority.
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Reports from forensic experts show that none of the parties have any right, title or interest in the debt or servicing; however homeowner is willing to accept the risks of dealing with an unauthorized entity, as long as the named Trustee executes the settlement on behalf of the Plaintiff Trust.
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A close examination of the proposed modification document will usually show that the creditor is being subtly changed. Payments are now owed to the servicer and there is no mention that the servicer is accepting those payments on behalf of the named creditor who is named as the foreclosing party. At best the creditor is being changed from the foreclosing trust to unknown. At worst the debt is being joined with the note and mortgage and changed to being presumptively owned by parties who, to the detriment of the owners of the debt, have never paid for ownership.
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The defending homeowner would be saying that the intermediary with whom she has been corresponding is acting in bad faith and/or without authority. He/She would be seeking relief in the form of a court order requiring an officer of the named Trustee Bank, as trustee for the named Trustee appearing as the Plaintiff and foreclosing party to either sign the deal or reject it if the current servicer had no authority to offer it.
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This is akin to cases in which there is a settlement and the attorney executes documentation or a pleading; the court most often rejects the “acceptance” by the attorney even though he/she is an officer of the court. The court, especially in foreclosures, will almost always require the signature of the homeowner. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
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The purpose of going through all that is to force the other side to offer a better deal or back away. I can virtually guarantee that the “Trustee” for the “REMIC Trust” will NOT sign a document in which they admit to being a player. The way it is set up now, the “Trustee’s” name is falsely used and the bank named as Trustee can claim plausible deniability in any given case in the event that the situation explodes and there is liability for false claims. In all likelihood the Trustee doesn’t even have a retainer agreement with the law firm that is falsely reporting that they are representing a nonexistent client Trust.
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Using this strategy drives the opposition to the wall. They know that the “Trustee” has no authority or interest in the litigation. They know the Trust is empty and most likely nonexistent. They know that without the subject loan being entrusted to a trust, no amount of writing can authorize the administration of the loan on behalf of the trust. They know there is potential liability for sanctions and punitive damages that could reach into the millions, but more importantly reach the press where homeowners will get the idea that maybe they can and ought to win.
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In my experience, the end result is usually a vast reduction in the amount demanded that is so steep that the homeowner feels constrained to accept it in exchange for accepting the risk that the parties with whom he/she is doing business have no right, title or interest in the loan.
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If the opposition were to produce a newly fabricated document the homeowner’s position strengthens. First the homeowner can seek to confirm the execution of the document by named “Trustee, on behalf of the named ‘Trust'”. Second the existence of a newly executed document may be used to argue that there was no privity or authorization before.

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This episode will discuss setting up your case for litigation, modification or settlement.  California attorney Charles Marshall will discuss settlement framework (writ large and small), and the numerous misunderstandings regarding how settlement should or even can work.

The overwhelming majority of civil cases will settle well before reaching the trial stage of a lawsuit, nationwide. Whether we’re talking about a divorce, a car accident lawsuit, or foreclosure case parties often choose to settle their case rather than leave their respective fates in the hands of an unpredictable jury. But is settlement always more beneficial?

Settlement Basics

“Settlement” is a term for formal resolution of a legal dispute without the matter being decided by a court judgment (jury verdict or judge’s ruling). Usually it means the defendant offers a certain sum of money to the plaintiff in exchange for the plaintiff’s signing a release of the defendant’s liability in connection with the underlying incident or transaction. This can happen at any point in a civil lawsuit. It can even occur before the plaintiff files a lawsuit at all, if the parties can come together a reach a fair agreement soon after the dispute arises, and both sides are motivated to do so.

Benefits of Settling a Case:

  • Expense.
  • Stress.
  • Privacy.
  • Predictability.
  • Finality.

With foreclosure lawsuits a homeowner often has a personal or profound sense of right and wrong, and decides to make an important point that impacts more than the parties in the case. For cases challenging the constitutionality of a law or some other perceived fundamental unfairness, settling also doesn’t create precedent and won’t affect public policy.

If one or both parties aren’t motivated to settle, or aren’t coming to the negotiating table with a remotely realistic offer, then resolution of the lawsuit before trial may not be possible.  This is often the case in foreclosure disputes- by the time the lender is prepared to settle, the homeowner wants vengence for the harm they have sustained (justifiably).

Please contact Attorney Charles Marshall at:

California Attorney Charles Marshall, Esq.

cmarshall@marshallestatelaw.com

Phone 619.807.2628

This program is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

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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.

MNUCHIN EXPENDABLE: REVELATIONS ABOUT ILLEGAL ONEWEST ACTIVITIES PREVIEW WITHDRAWAL OF NOMINATION AS TREASURY SECRETARY

Mnuchin is a highly paid gopher. He has made his money not by his business acumen but by his willingness to do anything for money. That included putting himself on the front line of one piece of the greatest economic crime in human history.

Nominating him for Treasury Secretary is a direct slap in the face of tens of millions of Americans who suffered grievous losses as a proximate result of illegal activities by the Wall Street banks. He will only do what his bank clients tell him to do. He will only say what they want him to say.

Listen to the Last Neil Garfield Show at http://tobtr.com/s/9673161

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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From http://yubanet.com/california/memo-shows-evidence-of-illegal-foreclosure-practices-at-onewest-bank-while-steven-mnuchin-was-ceo/

Memo Shows Evidence of Illegal Foreclosure Practices at OneWest Bank While Steven Mnuchin was CEO

CA Attorney General Staff Cited Evidence Suggesting “Widespread Misconduct”; Groups Call for Senate Investigation Prior to Confirmation Hearings

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3, 2016 – A 2013 memo written by attorneys in the Consumer Law Section from the California Attorney General’s office is raising new concerns about the track record of OneWest Bank, and the ethics of its former CEO, Steve Mnuchin, who has been nominated to be Treasury Secretary by President Elect Donald Trump. David Dayen first reported on the memo earlier today in an article in the Intercept.

The memo is based on a preliminary investigation by staff at the Attorney General’s office and was triggered by an earlier settlement by the bank with its banking regulator, “together with consumer complaints and the large volume of foreclosures conducted by OneWest.”

The memo focused on a number of fraudulent practices that OneWest was alleged to have engaged in, including:

1) Backdated foreclosure notices of default and other documents and had them notarized in order to “paper over misrepresentations, including cases the attorneys identified where bank staff had backdated documents to dates prior to OneWest’s existence.  In the case of the notices of default, the Attorney General staff asserts that if OneWest had corrected these errors, this would have delayed the foreclosure process.  In addition, OneWest filed these foreclosure notices with county recorders throughout the State which could subject OneWest to a felony charge under state law.

2) OneWest made and directed unlawful credit bids at foreclosure sales.  According to the Attorney General staff, unlawful credit bids may “freeze out other potential bidders (which could include a borrower or his family).”

3) Due to the unlawful credit bidding OneWest claimed an exemption from the applicable city and county transfer taxes and no tax was paid. [EDITOR’S NOTE: QUI TAM ANYONE?]

4)  Performed other acts in the foreclosure process without valid legal authority; and

5)   OneWest Trustees, acting on behalf of OneWest, failed to provide due process to families by speeding up the foreclosure process and timeline.

Impact on Homeowners: The memos of the author explain what the bank’s alleged practices meant for homeowners facing foreclosure:

“As reflected in the examples cited above and appended hereto, in many instances, OneWest’s false filings and unauthorized conduct in the course of the foreclosure process harmed homeowners by denying them timely and important information about their foreclosures and potentially shortening the amount of time they had available to find a way to become current on their mortgage obligations.”

Consumer advocates expressed outrage and urged a full investigation prior to any votes on Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination later this month.

“Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the American people deserve a full explanation of these serious charges of fraud. Mr. Mnuchin and OneWest Bank need to turn over all of the evidence they previously obstructed so that their banking regulators can conduct a thorough investigation into these serious charges prior to any hearings about Mr. Mnuchin serving as our next Treasury Secretary.  If Mr. Mnuchin’s bank wasn’t engaged in illegal behavior, why did they try and obstruct the Attorney General’s staff?” asks Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition.

The authors of the memo recommended that the Attorney General authorize a civil enforcement action against the bank, which did not happen. In citing challenges with filing the case, the authors of the memo cite concerns about federal bank regulators pre-empting their authority. OneWest and Wells Fargo have both raised pre-emption as defenses in legal cases related to the banks not complying with California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights law. The attorney general had previously filed amicus briefs arguing against OneWest’s position that it was not subject to the Homeowner Bill of Rights.

Additional Context: Senators are still missing key information about Mr. Mnuchin, OneWest Bank, and Financial Freedom:

As part of its earlier merger with CIT Group, consumer advocates had asked for more information about OneWest’s track record which the bank refused to provide, including information about:

1)      Total number of national foreclosures conducted by OneWest Bank and Financial Freedom (reverse mortgages) after Mr. Mnuchin and his group of investors bought the failed IndyMac, First Federal, and La Jolla Banks.

2)      HUD OIG Investigation: CIT Group, which acquired OneWest Bank in 2015, disclosed to investors that it had received subpoenas from the Office of the Inspector General at HUD related to Financial Freedom’s servicing of reverse mortgage loans. The investigation appears to be ongoing, and likely covers a timespan when Mr. Mnuchin was at the helm of OneWest.

3)      Modification and foreclosure data: While a spokesperson for Mr. Mnuchin suggested to the Washington Post that OneWest had made “over 101,000 modification offers,” advocates question how many of those modifications provided substantial enough payment relief that a homeowner could retain the home, and how many modified loans subsequently went into default, especially if the original modification didn’t provide a sustainable solution for the homeowner. Because 2/3 of OneWest foreclosures in California occurred in majority minority communities, advocates also suggest the bank should provide data about the extent to which homeowners of color received sustainable modifications, data which the bank likely already provided to the Treasury Dept.

4)      Settlements and Court Cases: During the past six years, OneWest Bank and its subsidiary, Financial Freedom, have lost multiple lawsuits and/or agreed to settlements with homeowners for illegal lending, servicing, and foreclosure practices.  However, the bank has never provided a comprehensive picture of these lawsuits and settlements which could help senators better understand Mr. Mnuchin’s leadership at the bank.

Example OneWest Settlement: OneWest Bank agreed to pay Greg and Irene Rigali, from San Luis Obispo, California a seven figure settlement after the bank foreclosed on the homeowners at the same time the homeowners were attempting to obtain a modification, a practice known as “dual tracking.” For more, see: CalCoastNews: “OneWest Bank pays 7 figures in mortgage fraud case.”

The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) has been advocating for fair and equal access to credit for all California communities since 1986. Over its 30 years, CRC has grown into the largest state community reinvestment coalition in the country with a membership of 300 nonprofit organizations working for the economic vitality of low-income communities and communities of color. Among our members are a diverse set of organizations including nonprofit housing counselors, consumer advocates, community organizers, legal service providers, affordable housing developers, small business technical assistance providers, and more. www.calreinvest.org

9th Circuit Uses Yvanova Reversing Trial Court

It seems obvious that if a complete stranger to the transaction (see the wording from the San Francisco study), is attempting to enforce a debt or seek a foreclosure, they should have no rights at all. And if a party accepts a modification application, they are making several representations about their authority and what they will do with the application. But the courts have resisted all such notions until very recently.

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 9th Circuit Quotes Yvanova13-17297

This is the stuff that  makes lay people crazy.

Plaintiff Newman filed a lawsuit in California to stop a foreclosure claiming BONY didn’t have the right to foreclose. The trial court dismissed his case because he supposedly didn’t have standing to raise that issue. Then he filed an appeal. During his appeal, the Yvanova decision was released.

So the 9th Federal Circuit applied Yvanova to the pending appeal and reversed the trial court, adding that there could be an action, as Newman had brought, to hold parties responsible for handling of a modification request. That should be a no-brainer but the courts keep getting twisted up in the idea that the banks need to be protected when it is the homeowners who need protection.

Of course for good measure the decision is announced as not to be used for precedent — but it is difficult to see how it could not be precedent.

The bottom line, I think, is that the Courts are very reluctantly coming around to the view that they will allow those actions or defenses that they must allow while they allow wide latitude to pretender lenders. It’s another step toward equality under the law but we are a still quite some distance to a level playing field.

It seems obvious that if a complete stranger to the transaction (see the wording from the San Francisco study), is attempting to enforce a debt or seek a foreclosure, they should have no rights at all. And if a party accepts a modification application, they are making several representations about their authority and what they will do with the application. But the courts have resisted all such notions until very recently.

The trend over the last decade is giving rise to a new fraudulent industry. Posing as the creditor and even suing upon the debt is cloaked in presumptions that the fabricated documents are true, putting the burden on the average citizen to disprove a nonexistent fact. And accepting a modification application as part of a larger scheme to force the homeowner into foreclosure was and might still be OK, because servicers supposedly are under no duty to do anything — not withstanding Dodd Frank and other statutes and regulations.

Schedule A Consult Now! or call 202-838-6345

The Strategic Warfare of Mortgage “Servicing”

By William Hudson
You can choose your sexual orientation and even your ethnicity but you can’t change your loan servicer. Mortage “servicing” is the ultimate misnomer. Modern loan servicing has nothing to do with service but instead provides a “disservice” in order to boost profits or engineer a default if at all possible. Being forced to contract with a sketchy loan servicer is like being forced to stay married to a spouse who lies, cheats and steals all your money.

 
The servicer’s job is to collect payments and manage the day to day operations of the loan, but servicers have taken on the new role of “default engineer” and “disinformation agent”. The servicers have found a new way of increasing profits and it is at the expense of a customer who has no choice in regards to who services their mortgage.

 
It is likely that the servicing rights to your loan were sold to either  the lowest bidder, or Pirates-R-Us Loan Servicing who purchased the note at a fire sale for pennies on the dollar with the knowledge that your loan had some major defect. It is even possible that your loan servicer is not a servicer at all but is pretending that they are forwarding your payments to the true owner when instead they are keeping your monthly payments for their own enrichment (and there is no creditor).

 
The typical tools servicers use to create a deliberate default include:
• providing disinformation or conflicting information to the homeowner
• failing to follow through with agreements (modifications or repayment)
• misapplying funds/refusing to take payments
• weeks spent trying to correct an issue (phone transferitis followed by disconnect)
• failure to answer QWR or failure to provide requested answers
• failure to acknowledge rescission
• backdating denial letters so homeowners don’t have sufficient time to challenge the              modification  denial
• forced-place insurance
• assign servicing rights to new servicer
• dual-tracking while modification is under consideration or borrower is in compliance
• revoking modification when homeowner is compliant (no opportunity to appeal)
• bankruptcy payment issues (misapplication of payments pre and post-bankruptcy)
• fabricating document to create the appearance of holder status
• misrepresenting status of relationship to loan
• Fabrication, forgery and other tactics to “perfect” the appearance of holder status

 
All of these activities serve to confuse the homeowner and require significant amounts of time and frustration to resolve as days, weeks and sometimes months are spent on trying to correct the situation (during work hours).   On a regular basis Servicers now participate in calculated fraud in order to create a default. The unsuspecting homeowner can be lulled by their servicer into practices that will increase the chances of foreclosure.

 
Over the past several months, the Lending Lies team has seen a disturbing trend of servicers taking advantage of people who are elderly, obviously mentally incapacitated, and economically vulnerable. Servicers are now aware of who the best victims are and who to pursue with impunity. The elderly who are on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable, single mothers who are burdened by work and raising children on their own appear to be targets, and we have seen more and more mature single women with few assets except for their homes being given incorrect information to deliberately force them into arrears (many of these women acquired real estate through divorce or a spouse’s death- and are told they have no survivor rights and the bank refuses to accept payment). These people lack the financial resources to obtain legal assistance, and often are so beaten-down emotionally they have no ability to fight back.

 
The servicer’s current weapon of choice continues to be the loan modification offer, when the bank has no intention of granting one. During the loan modification process, paper work will be destroyed, customer service reps will claim to not have received paperwork, and the homeowner will be caught in an endless phone transfer loop (followed by an abrupt disconnect of the call in which the homeowner will be forced to start all over). After months of this nearly futile run-around the bank will claim the homeowner doesn’t qualify for a modification- but will then fail to provide a reason for the modification denial or an opportunity to appeal the servicer’s decision (last week Ocwen was sanctioned by the National Mortgage Settlement for this metric violation). Another tactic is to dual-track the customer (proceed with foreclosure while homeowner is in negotiations for a modification).

 
Unfortunately almost all homeowners are at the mercy of the party who acquires the servicing rights to their Note- and if the homeowner has the misfortunate of their loan being acquired by Ocwen, Nationwide, Bank of America, JPMorgan-Chase, CitiMortgage or Bank of America- the homeowner is almost assured that if they miss one payment during the life of their loan or have some other issue- there will be hell to pay and the bank will make it as difficult as possible to correct the issue.

 

 

Without effective counsel, the homeowner is literally at the servicer’s mercy.
Part of the servicer’s modus operandi is emotional warfare. First of all, mortgage issues are complex and most homeowners have no comprehension of what is going on except for what they are told by low-level employees at the banks that are literally practicing law without a license when speaking to homeowners. By keeping the victim confused, on edge, unable to receive concise answers and other gaslighting techniques- they can exponentially increase default odds in their favor. Most homeowners will follow the directions of their loan servicers without question- and are taken advantage by their naiveté and willingness to comply with the servicer’s demands. It is unconscionable that a loan servicer with a conflict of interest is able to advise vulnerable homeowners about saving their home when the servicer has very clear goals of foreclosure.

 
Over the past nine years, servicers have learned how to “perfect” their default model to ensure foreclosures occur. Now that it is well known that the servicers forge signatures, falsify notarizations, and fabricate documents, the banks have now reverted to “Plan B”. If paperwork they forged and altered over the past six years is a known liability, lenders are now resorting to “lost note” strategies so they can try to start over with a “clean” slate. Once they have convinced the court the note was lost and claim plausible deniability they can use a lost note affidavit to try and correct any earlier issues or oversights that occurred when sloppy fabrication and forgeries were used. The banks can then recreate their foreclosure “storyline”  in order to “perfect” their standing. Don’t be fooled by this tactic.

 
The homeowner’s chance of saving their homes are compromised when their own servicer behaves in predatory ways. Servicers are well aware of how to create a default and who to best target for their crime. The National Mortgage Settlement has proven impotent to stop loan servicers from continuing with their deceptive tactics. Society’s most vulnerable are victimized and have no hope of fighting back against these abusive servicer crime-syndicates with deep pockets, political allies and the courts in their corner. Welcome to the new America.

Relief After Judgment Might Void the Sale

WE HAVE REVAMPED OUR SERVICE OFFERINGS TO MEET THE REQUESTS OF LAWYERS AND HOMEOWNERS. This is not an offer for legal representation. In order to make it easier to serve you and get better results please take a moment to fill out our FREE registration form https://fs20.formsite.com/ngarfield/form271773666/index.html?1453992450583 
Our services consist mainly of the following:
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  3. Case review and analysis
  4. Rescission review and drafting of documents for notice and recording
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For further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688. You also may fill out our Registration form which, upon submission, will automatically be sent to us. That form can be found at https://fs20.formsite.com/ngarfield/form271773666/index.html?1452614114632. By filling out this form you will be allowing us to see your current status. If you call or email us at neilfgarfield@hotmail.com your question or request for service can then be answered more easily.
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THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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Article by Hudson Cook

see http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d48dbdf7-2e5a-438d-97cd-98b59fbd062f

In the maelstrom of musical chairs characterizing most foreclosures, there has been a phenomenon that is not discussed very much. The Judgment of foreclosure has been entered but the parties agree to reinstatement (or possibly even modification) before the sale. Most courts seem to be saying that the foreclosure sale under those circumstances is void, although the Mississippi court described in the above referenced article did state that the purchaser at auction did have standing to challenge the reinstatement or more specifically to ratify his or her purchase of the property.

The ruling seems to make sense from the standpoint of the main parties to the litigation but it does pose problems for those who thought they purchased the property and went to some time and expense to make the purchase. On balance the courts seem to lean heavily in the direction of home retention under these circumstances.

This is just one of a myriad of examples where a pro se litigant might miss an opportunity for home retention. It is quite common for homeowners to receive such offers after judgment and before sale. And it is also getting increasingly common where some settlement is reached for reinstatement and modification. But the question remains as to whether the new arrangement is binding or valid if the offer is from a servicer for a trust that does not own the debt, note or mortgage.

This is to be distinguished from situations where the homeowner attacks the judgment or the wrongful foreclosure based upon fraud like a void assignment or some other element. Courts are much less inclined to vacate their own judgment based upon such allegations, although we have seen instances where they have done so.

Focus for Political Candidates: SHOW ME YOUR KNOWLEDGE About the Mortgage Crisis and the Economic collapse!

see West Coast Workshop Northern California

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

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I’ve been receiving emails from many candidates for public office, including one recent email calling for the break-up of the big banks — a theme picked up from Elizabeth Warren. They are right. But Bernie isn’t telling the people why that should happen and he isn’t taking the opportunity to resonate with what tens of millions of people already know about our economy, about Wall Street and about government. The system is rigged and people who run against the banks will win if they get specific and demonstrate their knowledge such that the people who are voting have actual confidence that the candidate knows what he or she is talking about and will actually do something to bring this nightmare to an end, restore the American middle class that is the engine of the US economy, and restore social order.

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Dear Bernie,

This message is too vague. You are underestimating the knowledge and intelligence of the American Public. More than 17,000,000 people have been displaced by the process of foreclosure. And there are another 17,000,000 people who will be displaced over the next 5-8 years. In order for that to happen the banks hide the real transactions and have been submitting documents that are fabricated, forged, robo-signed and supported by robo-testimony from people whose only job is to testify — thus insulating the the real players from committing perjury.

Talk about how and why millions of black, Hispanic and under-educated, unsophisticated borrowers were targeted for absurd loan products that ‘reset” to payment levels higher than their household income has ever been. You will cut across all demographic lines from far left to far right and everything in between.

Tens of Millions of people know this. You don’t need to do much teaching. If you want to touch a nerve, talk about how the mortgage process jumped from 4-5 loan products in in the 1970’s to around 450 loan products in the mortgage meltdown period. Talk about how disadvantaged people were targeted for loans because the failure of those loans made the most money for the banks.

Talk about the Miami suit where the city was stuck with brunt of the cost of ZOMBIE HOUSES — phenomenon throughout American cities where hundreds of thousands of homes have bull dozed because the same banks that interfered with a modification, forced the foreclosure then abandoned the property.

Talk about how no prospective borrower could understand the intricate lending process that emerged and that the Federal disclosure laws were inadequate to alert borrowers that they were being lured into loans they could never repay. Talk about how borrowers were lured into “default” with the hope of modifications by the famous “You must be 90 days behind to be considered for modification”, and lured into bankrupting their lives and households by spending every penny they could get their hands on to save their home — all to pay banks who had no interest in their loan and who had no actual authority.

Talk about the great shift (theft) of wealth from the American middle class to the banks who now have the money parked off-shore. Question why the banks supposedly suffered huge losses but are now bigger than ever with reporting earnings that are out-sized compared to any other activity in the our economy —a sure signal that they are cooking the books. Wall Street’s job is to make capital available for business activity. We have had our great recession where GDP for actual goods and services was reduced from 84% of GDP to only 52% of GDP — with the entire balance going to financial services. How could there be a need for more paper (securities) for business activity that declining? Talk about the nearly $1 Quadrillion in the shadow banking market where the illusion of economic activity is kept alive.

And why are the banks going to court relying on paper instruments that talk about transactions that never existed? If the transactions were real, then why don’t they show it? Why do they stonewall easy questions like “who is my creditor?” Why are they winning? Why are judges saying that they don’t care whether the borrower owes money to the party suing him; all that matters, say the judges, is that the borrower stopped paying. Really? If I mistakenly pay you $100 per month for a debt that doesn’t exist TO YOU, under what theory of law, morality or ethics can I be sued for withholding payment when I realize my mistake?

The all inclusive message should be that all the players should be forced to the table and all of them must share in the losses and risks that arose with the tactics employed by banks. Nearly all requests for workouts and modifications are being rejected by banks who have no authority to reject them. But the banks stand to gain billions, perhaps trillions of dollars by forcing homeowners into foreclosure because THEY, not the investors, get the proceeds of the sale through “recovery” of “servicer advances” that (a) completely eviscerate the false claim of default on the loan (the creditor was paid) (b) were never “advanced” by any authorized “servicer” (The money for servicer advances came from the investors’ money in a slush fund accessed by the servicer).

Talk about how virtually all borrowers who have applied for modifications have had their paperwork “lost” or “never received” or “incomplete” and how when the paperwork is sent again, it is now too stale and the process must be started over again — all the while the bank is forcing the homeowner deeper and deeper into a default that does not and never did exist. Talk about the tens of thousands of modifications that were approved and then ignored in order to force the foreclosure of a home that the bank would then abandon..

SHOW YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THESE THINGS AND PEOPLE WILL COME!

Adam Levitin on Backdating: A Pattern of Conduct at Ocwen and Other Players in the Foreclosure Frenzy

see also http://themreport.com/news/government/01-13-2015/california-moving-suspend-ocwens-mortgage-license

Adam Levitin has definitely established himself as one of the more respected figures in analyzing and commenting on mortgage and foreclosure practices. In this article below, he reveals the fraudulent nature of even the most benign looking foreclosures. Various parties, including Ocwen which he cites in particular, regularly backdated denials of modification and backdated ownership paperwork.

His emphasis is on the pattern of conduct dating back many years which continues unabated despite administrative findings of wrongdoing, and settlements in which they agreed to correct these practices. If you look at Select Portfolio Servicing, formerly Fairfield Capital, (and now owned by Credit Suisse) you will see that they were guilty of fraudulent servicing practices as far back as 2003.In a recent case where Patrick Giunta and I represented the homeowners the court found that there was no authority of the servicer and no loan transfer to the alleged Trust. The Judge specifically expressed her displeasure with the obvious indications of backdating and fabrication of endorsements, assignments and the attempt at using Powers of Attorney that were a fabricated work-around

Levitin is right in his conclusion. And I would add that any “presumption” rebuttable or otherwise, should not be allowed regarding any paperwork that is produced by these players. Levitin should be a regular read for those of you who are following this evolving mess.

http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/

Corporate Recidivism? Ocwen’s Charter Problems

posted by Adam Levitin
Last month mortgage servicer Ocwen (that’s NewCo backwards) was mauled by the NY State Department of Financial Services. Now the California Department of Corporations is seeking to revoke Ocwen’s license to do business in that state.
Here’s the thing that is often forgotten: this ain’t the first time! Ocwen used to be a federal thrift. In 2005, however, Ocwen “voluntarily” surrendered its thrift charter in the face of predatory lending/servicing investigation. And here we are, a decade later. What’s changed? By the NY and California allegations, not much. In other words, we’re looking at a potential case of corporate recidivism. I’ll refrain from commenting on the merits of the allegations, but there should be zero tolerance for corporate recidivism.
While I’m at it, a word about the substance of the NY allegations and remedy. NYDFS accused Ocwen of backdating loan modification denial letters to borrowers facing foreclosure (and thereby depriving the borrowers of a chance to timely appeal the denial). Sadly, this isn’t the first time backdating has reared its head in the servicing business. Remember how the robo-signing story broke? A GM/Ally employee named Jeffrey Stephan stated in a deposition that he personally signed some 10,000 foreclosure affidavits a month. That was the story that the media glommed onto. But the 10,000 affidavits/month was an unexpected deposition by-product. The real issue uncovered in that deposition was that GM/Ally had been backdating foreclosure documents to show that it had standing at the time it filed foreclosure suits, despite not actually being the noteholder and mortgagee until a subsequent date. Loans were supposedly transferred on Christmas Day, Easter, New Year’s Day, etc. So it would seem that backdating may not be an isolated problem to Ocwen. Lastly, it’s worth comparing the NYDFS remedy with the National Mortgage Settlement. NYSDFS got $150 million in “hard dollar” loan mods (not mods paid for on investors’ dime). Ocwen is subject to an independent monitor’s supervision for three years and cannot acquire any more mortgage servicing rights (MSRs). And, Ocwen’s Chairman must resign and two additional independent board members must be added.
In contrast, the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) was largely based on “soft dollar” mods, rather than real borrower relief. It did come with an independent monitor, but the NMS monitor isn’t able to be in the banks’ face the way the Ocwen monitor can. The NMS didn’t limit acquisition of MSRs. And it didn’t touch existing bank management or board structure. Put it this way: if the federal government and state AGs had as much spine as Ben Lawsky, Mssrs. Dimon, Moynihan, and Stumpf would be looking for new jobs (or enjoying their retirement). Of course, Ocwen is a scrappy, non-bank, non-SIFI. So it doesn’t enjoy the kid glove treatment.
The NYDFS Ocwen settlement sets out a new potential paradigm for mass consumer financial abuse settlements: real money, serious monitoring, and heave-ho to the old management. If senior management thinks that their job security is at risk for consumer abuse, they might well be more proactive at preventing it in the first place.

Ocwen Settlement with NY AG Could Spell Doom for Servicers

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

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The new settlement with New York’s Department of Financial Services calls for resignation of the Chairman (Erbey), payment of a $100 million fine, Payment of $50 million in restitution to borrowers who were wrongfully foreclosed, and a set of rules requiring Ocwen to help borrowers avoid foreclosure. Schneiderman, Attorney General, was prosecuting the case aggressively. This will add to the growing list of questions from judges over rotating servicers and trustees, servicing practices, robo-signing, forgery, fabrication of documents and the refusal of the foreclosing party to simply show the funding for the loan and the consideration paid for the acquisition of the loan.

Why is this important: it reflects an administrative finding that Ocwen has been wrongfully foreclosing on people from 2009 to the present. And it directs money and other assistance to homeowners who find themselves tangled in the complex web of deceit that we call securitization (Adam Levitin calls it “securitization fail” because the loans never actually made it into the trust — because the proceeds of sale of mortgage bonds were never given to the trust by the investment bank who sold them).

The fine is a fraction of what it should be and the amount set aside for victims of wrongful foreclosure is pathetic. And it basically leaves the completed foreclosures to stand even though it is obvious that Ocwen was following the directive “We are in the business of foreclosure, not modification). And while the settlement requires Ocwen to provide the complete loan file on request it fails to state what happens if they don’t and perhaps more importantly it fails to give details of what must be in that loan file even though they are widely known. Specifically, the completed loan file would show wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions from a party who was acting as a conduit for the investor money — a party unrelated to the REMIC Trust and not tied to the investors by contract.

Another key provision requires Ocwen to provide a detailed explanation of why and how a request for workout or modification was denied.

But remember this is one state. If all 50 states demanded the same results, based upon the New York findings there could be a global fine of $5 Billion and restitution ($2.5 Billion) for U.S. homeowners who are victims of wrongful foreclosure in the amount of $2.5 billion. And if you add the other servicers who have been doing exactly the same thing as Ocwen, the amounts increase geometrically.

A key provision of the settlement is continued monitoring. So if there is an issue with a foreclosure of a mortgage serviced by Ocwen, a complaint to the office of the attorney general or the office of the New York Department of Financial Services will help — perhaps even if you are not a resident of the state of New York.

One obvious concession to the banks is the reference to the onboarding process. In allowing Ocwen to purchase servicing rights (MSR) the reference is vague as to defining “onboarding.” This phrase is often being used in Court to avoid producing real records and real testimony from real companies who were real servicers. Judges, seeing only what is in front of them, are forced to rule that the records of the new “servicer” are business records within the exception provided under the hearsay rule in most states.

PRACTICE POINTER FOR LAWYERS: If you fail to argue that the business record must contain entries made at or near the time of the transaction, you will most likely end up with records from a “new” party who is not a servicer but whose records contain the alleged records of other servicers. I don’t see how the onboarding process could ever be accepted in lieu of records and testimony from companies who actually did servicing of the account — i.e., receipt of payments from the borrower and remittance to the creditors.

Here are some salient quotes from the article:

ATLANTA, Dec. 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ocwen Financial Corporation (OCN) (“Ocwen”) today announced that it has reached a comprehensive settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) related to the agency’s recent investigation.

“We are pleased to have reached a comprehensive settlement with the DFS and will act promptly to comply with the terms,” said CEO Ronald Faris. “We believe this agreement is in the best interests of our shareholders, employees, borrowers and mortgage investors. We will continue to cooperate with the DFS in the implementation of the terms of this settlement which we believe will allow Ocwen to continue to focus on what we do best — helping homeowners.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Ocwen will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million to the DFS by December 31, 2014, which will be used by the State of New York for housing, foreclosure relief and community redevelopment programs. The Company will also pay $50 million as restitution to current and former New York borrowers who had foreclosure actions filed against them by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014. As previously communicated in the third quarter of 2014, Ocwen recorded a charge of $100 million to increase its legal reserves in anticipation of a potential settlement with the DFS. Ocwen will record an additional $50 million charge in its fourth quarter 2014 financial statements to reflect the final settlement amount.

…. founder William C. Erbey will step down from his position as Executive Chairman of Ocwen, effective January 16, 2015. Barry Wish, a current director of Ocwen, will assume the role of Non-Executive Chairman on that date.

Ocwen has also agreed to non-monetary provisions relating to New York borrower assistance measures, a monitor-led oversight of Ocwen’s operations, interactions with related parties and certain corporate governance measures. MSR acquisitions will be subject to Ocwen meeting specified benchmarks as well as DFS approval.

A summary of the settlement terms is below.

Settlement Summary of Monetary Provisions

  • Ocwen will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million to the DFS by December 31, 2014, which will be used by the State of New York for housing, foreclosure relief and community redevelopment programs.
  • Ocwen will also pay $50 million as restitution to current and former New York borrowers in the form of $10,000 to each borrower whose home was foreclosed upon by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014, with the balance distributed equally among borrowers who had foreclosure actions filed, but not completed, by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014.

Settlement Summary of Non-Monetary Provisions

Borrower Assistance

Beginning 60 days after December 19, 2014, and for two years, Ocwen will:

  • Provide upon request by a New York borrower a complete loan file at no cost to the borrower;
  • Provide every New York borrower who is denied a loan modification, short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with a detailed explanation of how this determination was reached;
  • Provide one free credit report per year, at Ocwen’s expense, to any New York borrower on request if Ocwen made a negative report to any credit agency from January 1, 2010, and Ocwen will make staff available for borrowers to inquire about their credit reporting, dedicating resources necessary to investigate such inquiries and correct any errors.

Operations Monitor

  • The DFS will appoint an independent Operations Monitor to review and assess the adequacy and effectiveness of Ocwen’s operations. The Operations Monitor’s term will extend for two years from its engagement, and the DFS may extend the engagement another 12 months at its sole discretion.
  • The Operations Monitor will recommend and oversee implementation of corrections and establish progress benchmarks when it identifies weaknesses.
  • The Operations Monitor will report periodically on its findings and progress. The currently existing monitor will remain in place for at least three months and then for a short transitional period to facilitate an effective transition to the Operations Monitor.

Related Companies

  • The Operations Monitor will review and approve Ocwen’s benchmark pricing and performance studies semi-annually with respect to all fees or expenses charged to New York borrowers by any related party.
  • Ocwen will not share any common officers or employees with any related party and will not share risk, internal audit or vendor oversight functions with any related party.
  • Any Ocwen employee, officer or director owning more than $200,000 equity ownership in any related party will be recused from negotiating or voting to approve a transaction with the related party in which the employee, officer or director has such equity ownership, or any transaction that indirectly benefits such related party, if the transaction involves $120,000 or more in revenue or expense.

Corporate Governance

  • Ocwen will add two independent directors who will be appointed after consultation with the Monitor and who will not own equity in any related party.
  • As of January 16, 2015, Bill Erbey will step down as an officer and director of Ocwen, as well as from the boards of Ocwen’s related companies.
  • The Operations Monitor will review Ocwen’s current committees of the Board of Directors and will consult with the Board relating to the committees. This will include determining which decisions should be committed to independent directors’ oversight, such as approval of transactions with related parties, transactions to acquire mortgage servicing rights, sub-servicing rights or otherwise to increase the number of serviced loans and new relationships with third-party vendors.
  • The Board will work closely with the Operations Monitor to identify operations issues and ensure that they are addressed. The Board will consult with the Operations Monitor to determine whether any member of senior management should be terminated or whether additional officers should be retained to achieve the goals of complying with this Consent Order.

MSR Purchases

  • Ocwen may acquire MSRs upon (a) meeting benchmarks specified by the Operations Monitor relating to Ocwen’s onboarding process for newly acquired MSRs and its ability to adequately service newly acquired MSRs and its existing loan portfolio, and (b) the DFS’s approval, not to be unreasonably withheld.
  • These benchmarks will address the compliance plan, a plan to resolve record-keeping and borrower communication issues, the reasonableness of fees and expenses in the servicing operations, development of risk controls for the onboarding process and development of a written onboarding plan assessing potential risks and deficiencies in the onboarding process.

Fannie and Freddie Slammed by Massachusetts AG

Martha Coakley gets it. Read her letter. Being a politician she does not say that the abstract fear of strategic defaults on all loans across the board is absurd. Well, actually she does say it. Principal reductions and ending patently illegal policies preventing homeowners from buying back their own property at auction are at the center of the solution to the foreclosure mess along with one more thing: things will change when we get the answer to the question IF THESE POLICIES HURT LENDERS, INVESTORS AND BORROWERS, WHY WOULD ANYONE LISTEN TO A THIRD PARTY WHO BENEFITS?

fhfa-letter-051414

As the new head of the Federal Agency administrating Fannie and Freddie, Watts, replacing DeMarco, signals a major change in policy and regulations. The question is whether he means it. There is no doubt at the White House that the economy will continue to be dragged down by foreclosures. Their answer to the problem lies in modifications with “principal reductions” and loosening some standards for lending and securitization.

While the modification policies should be changed, this isn’t enough. Modification has been used as a tool of Wall Street to lure unwary borrowers into the illusion of immediate relief only to be faced with terms that are worse than the borrowers had before when underwriting was virtually nonexistent — albeit with some fees and other “skin in the game” restrictions that could slow up some of the continuing securitization fraud.

The issue is still the same and the fear is still there — will the entire system collapse if we stop putting the full brunt of the foreclosure mess on the backs of unsophisticated homeowners who were induced to buy loan products that were filled with false pretenses, false assumptions and nonexistent review, verification and other underwriting procedures.

At this point, considering the rampant appraisal fraud, homeowners should be given an opportunity to regain equity and have some skin in the game — as opposed to the all or nothing proposition they are fighting in court with complete strangers to their transactions 000 alleged by parties relying on evidentiary presumptions rather than real facts of each transaction.

In 2007 I proposed amnesty for everyone and that everyone share in the the losses from civil and perhaps criminal fraud caused by the banks taking money from investors and applying it to loans that were guaranteed to fail and then scaring government into thinking that the world would end if they were called on this predatory and illegal practice on the basis of being too big too fail.

Too big to fail is a myth. First, the banks can’t collapse because they are cash rich off shore. Trillions were siphoned out of pension funds, taxpayers and insurers and guarantors taking so much money that the federal reserve had to engage in various schemes of direct and disguised quantitative easing (like buying mortgage bonds that were worthless at 100% of par value). The losses claimed by the banks were also fictional.

At this point everyone at the levers of power knows the truth. The trusts were never funded and the trusts never acquired the loans. This places the investors in the position of being undifferentiated and unattached creditors for loans they funded but were never  given proper documentation in the form of notes payable tot he investors and mortgages pledging collateral to the investors, leaving them as unsecured creditors.

But now the government is committed financially to a policy of continuing fraud started by the banks which is the same thing that is happening in court. The issue is not whether a deadbeat homeowner will get a free house (that is a choice presented by the banks in a false set of presumptions). despite the dire straits of investors in worthless and fraudulent mortgage bonds, homeowners are mostly willing to offer new notes and new mortgages that reflect economic reality. No, those deadbeats are nothing of the sort. They are hard working, play by the rules people who simply want a fair deal and they are willing to shoulder the loss forced on them by the banks.

Want to test it out? Call us about our AMGAR project — 7 years in the making — in which we call the bluff of the banks. It takes money, but the investors are starting to line up to help, and the homeowners with independent assets to offer the money rather than the foreclosure are racking up wins in case after case. Watch the banks back peddle as they reject the money in favor of their much needed foreclosure judgment and sale so they can report the loan was a bust — and therefore the money the banks received in servicer payments to the investors, insurance tot he banks, guarantees and other proceed from other obligors won’t need to be paid back.

And if played properly, the tax revenue due from the banks for violations of the REMIC provisions, part of which will fall on investors who fail to make their case against the broker dealers who sold them that mortgage crap, will more than offset the lack of revenue on Federal and State levels. All they need to do is give up on too big to fail and give up on thinking that killing the middle class is a good idea because the burden must fall somewhere. In fraud, the burden falls on the perpetrators not the victims although it is rare that restitution ever equals the loss. Virtually every foreclosure is merely the court’s complicity in the continuing fraud.

Remember the playbook of the bank attorneys into undermine your confidence until the very last second when they submit their voluntary dismissal in court. Call their bluff, offer the money based upon YOUR terms or the terms of an investor who is willing to make the commitment. Your terms require proof of ownership and proof of balance after credits for third party payments. you will find they don’t own the loan and the balance of the loan has already been paid down or paid off entirely.

Don’t just file motions to enforce discovery. File motions with affidavits from forensic analysts that explain why you need what you are asking for. You’ll get the order. And as soon as you get the order, the offers of settlement will start pouring in.

For information and further assistance please call 520-405-1688 or 954-495-9867. We provide help and guidance to professionals that know foreclosure defense, foreclosure offense, modifications, short-sales, Hardest Hit Funds and other Federal, State and private programs. Remember to ask about AMGAR. It is time to strike back. Let the other side start feeling the pain.

see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/business/Melvin-Watt-shifts-course-on-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac.html?ref=business&_r=0

 

National Honesty Day? America’s Book of Lies

Today is National Honesty Day. While it should be a celebration of how honest we have been the other 364 days of the year, it is rather a day of reflection on how dishonest we have been. Perhaps today could be a day in which we say we will at least be honest today about everything we say or do. But that isn’t likely. Today I focus on the economy and the housing crisis. Yes despite the corruption of financial journalism in which we are told of improvements, our economy — led by the housing markets — is still sputtering. It will continue to do so until we confront the truth about housing, and in particular foreclosures. Tennessee, Virginia and other states continue to lead the way in a downward spiral leading to the lowest rate of home ownership since the 1990’s with no bottom in sight.

Here are a few of the many articles pointing out the reality of our situation contrasted with the absence of articles in financial journalism directed at outright corruption on Wall Street where the players continue to pursue illicit, fraudulent and harmful schemes against our society performing acts that can and do get jail time for anyone else who plays that game.

It isn’t just that they escaping jail time. The jailing of bankers would take a couple of thousand people off the street that would otherwise be doing harm to us.

The main point is that we know they are doing the wrong thing in foreclosing on property they don’t own using “balances” the borrower doesn’t owe; we know they effectively stole the money from the investors who thought they were buying mortgage bonds, we know they effectively stole the title protection and documents that should have been executed in favor of the real source of funds, we know they received multiple payments from third parties and we know they are getting twin benefits from foreclosures that (a) should not be legally allowed and (b) only compound the damages to investors and homeowners.

The bottom line: Until we address wrongful foreclosures, the housing market, which has always led the economy, will continue to sputter, flatline or crash again. Transferring wealth from the middle class to the banks is a recipe for disaster whether it is legal or illegal. In this case it plainly illegal in most cases.

And despite the planted articles paid for by the banks, we still have over 700,000 foreclosures to go in the next year and over 9,000,000 homeowners who are so deep underwater that their situation is a clear and present danger of “strategic default” on claims that are both untrue and unfair.

Here is a sampling of corroborative evidence for my conclusions:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Candid Take on the Foreclosure Crisis

There it was: The Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.”

Lynn Symoniak is Thwarted by Government as She Pursues Other Banks for the Same Thing She Proved Before

Government prosecutors who relied on a Florida whistleblower’s evidence to win foreclosure fraud settlements with major banks two years ago are declining to help her pursue identical claims against a second set of large financial institutions.

Lynn Szymoniak first found proof that millions of American foreclosures were based on faulty and falsified documents while fighting her own foreclosure. Her three-year legal fight helped uncover the fact that banks were “robosigning” documents — hiring people to forge signatures and backdate legal paperwork the firms needed in order to foreclose on people’s homes — as a routine practice. Court papers that were unsealed last summer show that the fraudulent practices Szymoniak discovered affect trillions of dollars worth of mortgages.

More than 700,000 Foreclosures Expected Over Next Year

How Bank Watchdogs Killed Our Last Chance At Justice For Foreclosure Victims

The results are in. The award for the sorriest chapter of the great American foreclosure crisis goes to the Independent Foreclosure Review, a billion-dollar sinkhole that produced nothing but heartache for aggrieved homeowners, and a big black eye for regulators.

The foreclosure review was supposed to uncover abuses in how the mortgage industry coped with the epic wave of foreclosures that swept the U.S. in the aftermath of the housing crash. In a deal with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, more than a dozen companies, including major banks, agreed to hire independent auditors to comb through loan files, identify errors and award just compensation to people who’d been abused in the foreclosure process.

But in January 2013, amid mounting evidence that the entire process was compromised by bank interference and government mismanagement, regulators abruptly shut the program down. They replaced it with a nearly $10 billion legal settlement that satisfied almost no one. Borrowers received paltry payouts, with sums determined by the very banks they accused of making their lives hell.

Investigation Stalled and Diverted as to Bank Fraud Against Investors and Homeowners

The Government Accountability Office released the results of its study of the Independent Foreclosure Review, conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve in 2011 and 2012, and the results show that the foreclosure process is lacking in oversight and transparency.

According to the GAO review, which can be read in full here, the OCC and Fed signed consent orders with 16 mortgage servicers in 2011 and 2012 that required the servicers to hire consultants to review foreclosure files for efforts and remediate harm to borrowers.

In 2013, regulators amended the consent orders for all but one servicer, ending the file reviews and requiring servicers to provide $3.9 billion in cash payments to about 4.4 million borrowers and $6 billion in foreclosure prevention actions, such as loan modifications. The list of impacted mortgage servicers can be found here, as well as any updates. It should be noted that the entire process faced controversy before, as critics called the IFR cumbersome and costly.

Banks Profit from Suicides of Their Officers and Employees

After a recent rash of mysterious apparent suicides shook the financial world, researchers are scrambling to find answers about what really is the reason behind these multiple deaths. Some observers have now come to a rather shocking conclusion.

Wall Street on Parade bloggers Pam and Russ Martens wrote this week that something seems awry regarding the bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) policies held by JPMorgan Chase.

Four of the biggest banks on Wall Street combined hold over $680 billion in BOLI policies, the bloggers reported, but JPMorgan held around $17.9 billion in BOLI assets at the end of last year to Citigroup’s comparably meager $8.8 billion.

Government Cover-Up to Protect the Banks and Screw Homeowners and Investors

A new government report suggests that errors made by banks and their agents during foreclosures might have been significantly higher than was previously believed when regulators halted a national review of the banks’ mortgage servicing operations.

When banking regulators decided to end the independent foreclosure review last year, most banks had not completed the examinations of their mortgage modification and foreclosure practices.

At the time, the regulators — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve — found that lengthy reviews by bank-hired consultants were delaying compensation getting to borrowers who had suffered through improper modifications and other problems.

But the decision to cut short the review left regulators with limited information about actual harm to borrowers when they negotiated a $10 billion settlement as part of agreements with 15 banks, according to a draft of a report by the Government Accountability Office reviewed by The New York Times.

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

Wrongful Foreclosure Rate at least 24%: Wrongful or Fraudulent?

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

http://www.marketpulse.com/20140430/u-s-housing-recovery-struggles/

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0429/Home-buying-loses-allure-ownership-rate-lowest-since-1995

http://www.opednews.com/articles/It-s-Good–no–Great-to-by-William-K-Black–Bank-Failure_Bank-Failures_Bankers_Banking-140430-322.html

[DISHONEST EUPHEMISMS: The context of this WSJ story is the broader series of betrayals of homeowners by the regulators and prosecutors led initially by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his infamous “foam the runways” comment in which he admitted and urged that programs “sold” as benefitting distressed homeowners be used instead to aid the banks (more precisely, the bank CEOs) whose frauds caused the crisis.  The WSJ article deals with one of the several settlements with the banks that “service” home mortgages and foreclose on them.  Private attorneys first obtained the evidence that the servicers were engaged in massive foreclosure fraud involving knowingly filing hundreds of thousands of false affidavits under (non) penalty of perjury.  As a senior former AUSA said publicly at the INET conference a few weeks ago about these cases — they were slam dunk prosecutions.  But you know what happened; no senior banker or bank was prosecuted.  No banker was sued civilly by the government.  No banker had to pay back his bonus that he “earned” through fraud.

 

 

LOAN MODIFICATIONS

Modifications are like a dirty word in the marketplace. Frustration, chicanery, luring borrowers into default, and crating modifications that are bound to fail so that the banks can get that ever precious foreclosure sale. But there is another side to it, as our guest writer David Abellard points out below.

And while I think the entire mortgage foreclosure thing is a complete sham, it is nonetheless true that homeowners want a a modification far more often than just getting a “free home.” Most of us understand that litigation is about preventing the banks from getting a “free home” — which is to say not just any home, but the home that a family resides in.

Litigation also provides the homeowner with presenting a credible threat, especially if they are after discovery on the money trail. So it is impossible to say how much litigation is necessary to get the best terms, or even if the homeowner SHOULD litigate, because much of that has more to do with personal decisions than the likelihood of success in litigation.

There is also a point I want to make to people who are not sophisticated in finance. An interest rate that is far under market rates IS the equivalent of a principal reduction. If you want to learn more about this, Google “present value” and “future value.” If you stay in the home for the duration of the loan, the impact gets larger and larger. But if you are staying in the home for only a short while then reducing the interest rate won’t do much without an actual principal reduction. As pointed out in prior broadcasts and articles here on livinglies, make sure whoever you are talking to about modification, short-sale or any other settlement is aware of two things:

  1. There are hidden programs throughout the country that provide direct financial assistance to those who want to bring their loan current or who need a reduction in principal. The “expert” you are hiring had better know about them or you might turn down a deal that would otherwise be acceptable.
  2. Get a court order approving the modification as a settlement. Submit an agreed order that expressly refers tot he legal description of the property, the fact that the homeowner is the owner in fee simple absolute — by name — and that the holder of the mortgage and note is identified by name. The order should approve the settlement even if the the settlement agreement is confidential and even if the settlement agreement is not attached to the order.
  3. Snatch and Grab: Many of the banks are still secretly scripting their customer service people to lure you into a default with the promise of a modification, even accepting trial payments, and then foreclosing anyway. The courts are not amused and they are getting banged by this practice — but only where the homeowner brings it up loudly.
  4. People ask me “should I stop paying?” The answer is universally that you don’t want to put yourself in a worse position than the one in which you are already stuck. Voluntary nonpayment is only for those who are pursuing strategies based upon strategic default. If the bank tells you to fall behind by 90 days, don’t believe it — it’s a trap. At best they are trying to steer you into an in house modification where the interest rates and payments are higher than in HAMP, HARP or other programs that do NOT require you to be i default for modification, no matter what anyone tells you.

But modifying the mortgage is a legitimate way of ending your problem as long as you take the necessary steps to protect your title. Thus I am inviting people to write in about modification. David Abellard sketches the modification process below:

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Loan Modification Information

Most homeowners have lost faith in loan modifications. Lenders have been alleged to routinely used the process to trick unsuspected homeowners into agreeing to consent judgment in pending foreclosure cases. The skepticism of some is understandable. However, the foreclosure landscape has shifted a bit in favor of the homeowners. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently promulgated rules that make loan modification more effective.

Lenders and their servicers could face serious penalty for not complying with the federal regulations that went into effect January 10, 2014. If a loan is modified, the new payment will be based on the household income; which is generally 31% of the household monthly gross income. Loans on a primary residence as well as non-owner residence can be modified.  There are several loan modification programs. The Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”) is a government  program that has been extended until 12/31/15.  If a homeowner does not qualify for HAMP, or the investor doesn’t participate in the HAMP program, banks and servicers also offer internal private modification programs as an alternative.  Loan modifications are primarily designed to create an affordable payment plan for the homeowner based on their current income; it does not create equity by reducing the principle balance of a loan based on current property value.

There are mainly three ways a loan can be modified to create an affordable payment:
1) reduction of interest rate;
2) extension of loan term;
3) waiver or deferment of principle balance.

Regardless of what someone may tell you, applying for a loan modification does not guarantee that you will receive one, nor can anyone guarantee specific results.
Normally, the homeowner will have to complete a trial period which usually last 3 months before the modification becomes final.  Applying for a loan modification under certain circumstances may stop the court from entering a final judgment or selling the property while the modification application is being reviewed.  The application process can be daunting and intimidating. There are some law firms which concentrate on loan modification. They can become a very effective interface between the lender and the borrower and facilitate the process.

David Abellard at The Law Office of Paul A. Krasker, P.A.
Office: 561.328.2268,  or 877-332-1965 ext 194
Email: dabellard@kraskerlaw.com,

 

BONY Objections to Discovery Rejected

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It has been my contention all along that these cases ought to end in the discovery process with some sort of settlement — money damages, modification, short-sale, hardest hit fund programs etc. But the only way the homeowner can get honest terms is if they present a credible threat to the party seeking foreclosure. That threat is obvious when the Judge issues an order compelling discovery to proceed and rejecting arguments for protective orders, (over-burdensome, relevance etc.). It is a rare bird that a relevance objection to discovery will be sustained.

Once the order is entered and the homeowner is free to inquire about all the mechanics of transfer of her loan, the opposition is faced with revelations like those which have recently been discovered with the Wells Fargo manual that apparently is an instruction manual on how to commit document fraud — or the Urban Lending Solutions and Bank of America revelations about how banks have scripted and coerced their employees to guide homeowners into foreclosure so that questions of the real owner of the debt and the real balance of the debt never get to be scrutinized. Or, as we have seen repeatedly, what is revealed is that the party seeking a foreclosure sale as “creditor” or pretender lender is actually a complete stranger to the transaction — meaning they have no ties i to any transaction record, and no privity through any chain of documentation.

Attorneys and homeowners should take note that there are thousands upon thousands of cases being settled under seal of confidentiality. You don’t hear about those because of the confidentiality agreement. Thus what you DO hear about is the tangle of litigation as things heat up and probably the number of times the homeowner is mowed down on the rocket docket. This causes most people to conclude that what we hear about is the rule and that the settlements are the exception. I obviously do not have precise figures. But I do have comparisons from surveys I have taken periodically. I can say with certainty that the number of settlements, short-sales and modifications that are meaningful to the homeowner is rising fast.

In my opinion, the more aggressive the homeowner is in pursuing discovery, the higher the likelihood of winning the case or settling on terms that are truly satisfactory to the homeowner. Sitting back and waiting to see if the other side does something has been somewhat successful in the past but it results in a waiver of defenses that if vigorously pursued would or could result in showing the absence of a default, the presence of third party payments lowering the current payments due, the principal balance and the dollar amount of interest owed. If you don’t do that then your entire case rests upon the skill of the attorney in cross examining a witness and then disqualifying or challenging the testimony or documents submitted. Waiting to the last minute substantially diminishes the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

What is interesting in the case below is that the bank is opposing the notices of deposition based upon lack of personal knowledge. I would have pressed them to define what they mean by personal knowledge to use it against them later. But in any event, the Judge correctly stated that none of the objections raised by BONY were valid and that their claims regarding the proper procedure to set the depositions were also bogus.

tentative ruling 3-17-14

The Devil Is In the Details: Summary of Issues

Editor’s note: in preparing a complex motion for the court in several related cases I ended up writing the following which I would like to share with my readers. As you can see, the issues that were once thought to be simple and susceptible to rocket docket determination are in fact complex civil cases involving issues that are anything but simple.

This is a guide and general information. DO NOT USE THIS IF YOU ARE NOT A LICENSED ATTORNEY. THESE ISSUES ARE BOTH PROCEDURALLY AND SUBSTANTIVELY ABOVE THE AVERAGE KNOWLEDGE OF A LAYMAN. CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY LICENSED IN THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH THE PROPERTY IS LOCATED.

If you are seeking litigation support or referrals to attorneys or representation please call 520-405-1688.

SUMMARY OF ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED

 

1)   Whether a self proclaimed or actual Trustee for a REMIC Trust is empowered to bring a foreclosure action or any action to enforce the note and mortgage contrary to the terms of the Trust document — i.e., the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) — which New York and Delaware law declare to be actions that are VOID not VOIDABLE; specifically if the Trust document names a different trustee or empowers only the servicer to bring enforcement actions against borrowers.

2)   Whether a Trustee or Servicer may initiate actions or take legal positions that are contrary to the interests of the Trust Beneficiaries — in this case creating a liability for the Trust Beneficiaries for receipt of overpayments that are not credited to the account receivable from the Defendant Borrowers by their agents (the servicer and the alleged Trustee) and the creation of liability to LaSalle Bank or the Trust by virtue of questionable changes in Trustees.

3)   Whether US Bank is the Plaintiff or should be allowed to claim that it is the Trustee for the Plaintiff Trust. Without Amendment to the Complaint, US Bank seeks to be substituted as Plaintiff in lieu of Bank of America, as successor by merger with LaSalle Bank, trustee for the Plaintiff Trust according to the Trust Document (the Pooling and Servicing Agreement) Section 8.09.

a)    A sub-issue to this is whether Bank of America is actually is the successor by merger to LaSalle Bank or if CitiMortgage is the successor to LaSalle Bank, as Trustee of the Plaintiff Trust — there being conflicting submissions on the SEC.gov website on which it appears that CitiMortgage is the actual party with ownership of ABN AMRO and therefore LaSalle Bank its subsidiary.

b)   In addition, whether opposing counsel, who claims to represent U.S. Bank may be deemed attorney for the Trust if U.S. Bank is not the Trustee for the Trust.

i)     Whether opposing counsel’s interests are adverse to its purported client or the Trust or the Trust beneficiaries, particularly with respect to their recent push for turnover of rents despite full payment to creditors through non stop servicer advances.

4)   Whether any Trustee for the Trust can bring any enforcement action for the debt including foreclosure, assignment of rents or any other relief.

5)   Whether the documentation of a loan at the base of the tree of the assignments and transfers refers to any actual transaction in which the Payee on the note and the Mortgagee on the Mortgage.

a)    Or, as is alleged by Defendants, if the actual transaction occurred when a wire transfer was received by the closing agent at the loan closing with Defendant Borrowers from an entity that was a stranger to the documentation executed by Defendant Borrowers.

b)   Whether the debt arose by virtue of the receipt of money from a creditor or if it arose by execution of documentation, or both, resulting in double liability for a single loan and double payment.

6)   Whether the assignment of mortgage is void on its face as a fabrication because it refers to an event that occurred long after the date shown on the assignment.

7)   Whether the non-stop servicer advances in all of the cases involving these Defendants and U.S. Bank negates the default or the allegation of default by the Trust beneficiaries, the Trust or the Trustee, regardless of the identity of the Trustee.

a)    Whether a DEFAULT exists or ever existed where non stop servicer advances have been paid in full.

b)   Whether the creditor, under the debt obligation of the Defendant borrowers can be allowed to receive more than the amount due as principal , interest and expenses. In this case borrower payments, non stop servicer advances, insurance, credit default swap proceeds and other payments by co-obligors who paid without subrogation or expectation of receiving refunds from the Trust Beneficiaries.

c)    Whether a new debt arises by operation of law as a result of receipt of third party defendants in which a claim might be made by the party who advanced payment to the creditor, resulting in a decrease the account receivable and a corresponding decrease in the borrower’s account (loan) payable.

i)     Whether the new debt is secured by the recorded mortgage that the Plaintiff relies upon without the borrower executing a security instrument in which the real property is pledged as collateral for the advances by third parties.

8)   Whether turnover of rents can relate back to the original default, or default letter, effectively creating a final judgment for damages before evidence is in the court record.

9)   Whether the requirements of a demand letter to Defendants for turnover of rents can be waived by the trial Court, contrary to Florida Statutes.

a)    Whether equity demands that the turnover demand be denied in view of the fact that the actual creditors — the Trust Beneficiaries of the alleged Trust were paid in full up to and including the present time.

b)   Whether, as argued by opposing counsel, the notice of default letter sent to Defendant Borrowers is an acceptable substitute to a demand letter for turnover of the rents if the letter did not mention turnover of rents.

c)    Whether the notice of default letter and acceleration was valid or accurate in view of the servicer non-stop advances and receipt of other third party payments reducing the account receivable of the Trust beneficiaries (creditors).

i)     Whether there was a difference between the account status shown by the Servicer (chase and now SPS) and the account status actually shown by the creditor — the Trust Beneficiaries who were clearly paid in full.

10)         Whether the Plaintiff Trust waived the DUE ON SALE provision in the alleged Mortgage.

a)    Whether the Plaintiff can rely upon the due on sale provision in the mortgage to allege default without amendment to their pleadings.

11)         Whether sanctions should apply against opposing counsel for failure to disclose essential facts relating to the security of the alleged creditor.

Whether this (these cases) case should be treated off the “rocket docket” for foreclosures and transferred to general civil litigation for complex issues

BOA, Urban Lending Sued for Rackateering on Fraudulent “Modification” Program

In a case that may have far-reaching consequences, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Colorado accusing Bank of America of racketeering, which is what borrowers have been screaming about for years. It was a game to the bank. They intentionally lured people into what they thought was a good faith modification program, encouraged people to get deeper and deeper into “debt”, and then foreclosed when they were sure that the person could not reinstate nor exercise a right of redemption. A key player in this scheme was Urban Lending Solutions.

In a case that I am currently litigating, Bank of America at first denied any knowledge of Urban Lending Solutions. When confronted with correspondence issued from urban lending solutions under the letterhead of Bank of America, they finally conceded that they knew who who the company was.  In a Massachusetts case depositions were taken and it is quite clear that this affiliate of Bank of America had their employees working off of Scripts and that anyone who went off the reservation would be disciplined or fired. Going off the reservation merely meant that they actually tried to help a borrower achieve a modification.

There are at least six whistleblowers who have executed sworn affidavits stating that the modification program was a sham. I think we might be getting closer to the point where whistleblowers tell us that the origination of the loan was a sham and that the so-called sales of loans were also sham transactions. Those employees of Bank of America or their affiliates who were successful in throwing homeowners into foreclosure were rewarded with $500 gift certificates to Target and other stores.

The claims against Bank of America are using laws that were designed to target organized crime. For seven years experts and laymen have been claiming that the banks were engaged in organized crime in the  the sale of mortgage mines, origination of loans, the assignment of loans, the recording of unperfected mortgage liens, wrongful foreclosures, illegal foreclosure sales in which the property was sold without any cash being paid, interference  in the right of the borrower to reinstate, modify, or redeem.

We are just around the corner from the key question, to wit: why would the banks engage in organized crime to create foreclosures when it is painfully obvious to homeowners and local government officials across the country that the banks have no interest in acquiring the property but only causing the sale of the property at a foreclosure auction?  Why would the banks delay the prosecution of their cases for years? Why would the banks argue against expediting discovery against them and against the borrower? Why would the banks argue for less money in foreclosure rather than more money in modification?

The answer to all of those questions is simply that there is more money in this scheme than has been divulged.  In the coming weeks and months the revelations about the true nature of these transactions will shock the conscience of the country and cause voters and politicians to rethink their position regarding the ability of regulators and courts to clawback illegally obtained proceeds that started with the transactions originated with the money of investors and somehow ended up with the banks growing by 30% despite a failing economy and a diving housing market.

We are now at the point where filing RICO charges against the banks is likely to gain traction whereas in prior years it was considered overkill for what appeared to be negligence in paperwork caused by the volume of mortgages and foreclosures. Volume had nothing to do with it. The banks made a ton of money selling those mortgage bonds.  Out the money they made selling the mortgage bonds was dwarfed by the amount they made when they received insurance, credit default swap proceeds, and taxpayer money on investments owned by the investors and not by the banks. So far more than 5 million foreclosures have proceeded illegally which means that 5 million families have been disrupted in some cases beyond repair. Recent estimates suggest that another 5 million foreclosures will be added to the list unless the banks are required to conform with their regulations and the laws of the federal and state government.

BOA and Urban Lending Sued on Racketeering Charges

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.
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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.

151729746-Posti-Final-Judgment-062513

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.

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

It is FACT not THEORY: Money Trail is a Trail of Facts; Paper Trail is a Trail of Lies

Neil F Garfield, July 1, 2013: Modification “experts” are criticizing what they see on this site. It gives them the willies to think that they are participating in a fraud or enabling a fraud when they modify a loan with someone who doesn’t own it. So lately they are saying that the articles here have been discredited in court decisions (not true) and that the “theories” described here lack credibility.

What we are talking about here is facts, not theory. Either the foreclosing party, modifying party, or party accepting the short sale owns the note or not — and the FACTS lead wherever they bring us, namely, that if they didn’t pay for the funding of the origination of the loan, they didn’t pay for the acquisition of the loan, and that they didn’t acquire servicing rights to the loan, the lack of standing (legal doctrine, not theory) is complete. The non-ability to submit a credit bid at auction is complete (state statutes, not theory). The liability for slander of title, abuse of process, fraud, forgery, and fabrication of documents describing non-existent transactions needs to be proven, and the damages must also be proven. But with a dismissal or judgment for borrower, the liability part of the case is fairly easy.

Whether you are buying, selling, refinancing, short-selling, modifying or in any way settling or resolving issues with a mortgage loan you do so at your own risk. Banks that offer refinancing are either part of the securitization scheme and are kicking the liability can down the road or they are ignorant of the risk elements of title and liability for a loan that is subject to securitization claims.

If you want to criticize, go ahead and do it. But all people need to know is they can ask the questions in litigation and get the answers and the facts are whatever they are — there is either a cancelled check or wire transfer receipt or there is nothing. If you want to know if it is hot outside, just stick your head out a window, if reading the thermometer is too theoretical for you.

It is often true that the borrower admitted the debt, the note, the mortgage and the default. The trial judge had no choice and neither did the appellate court. These cases come from the inexperience of the pro se litigant or the lawyer who has not researched all of the material.

Don’t get caught in a spitting match about my “theories” versus the rulings of some courts. This is all a work in progress and there are going to be conflict in rulings. One state may appear to give one set of rulings another state may seem just the opposite. the point is that if you are doing good lawyering you are following the facts wherever they take you. And what we are saying is that the money trail does not support the paper trail that the banks have fabricated forged or proffered.

For example: Go to eFANNIE site. They are boasting about funding even before allocating your whole loan commitment or MBS pool, so you can maximize your execution. TRANSLATION: we’ll give you the money before you have to come up with it in real time. The investors put up the money,then the loan applications are solicited, then the money is funded with investor money, then the originator reports the loan closing and assigns it without a paper assignment to the next party in the paper train (securitization) usually the aggregator who assigns them without an actual assignment to the CDO manager at the investment bank that created the mortgage bonds and sold them through a “third party” which was owned or controlled by the investment bank. The paper trail neither reflects nor follows the money trail.

Full Deposition of Angela Edwards “Robo-Verifier” as Servicer for the Plaintiff for Verification of Foreclosure Complaint
http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-06-28/full-deposition-angela-edwards-“robo-verifier”-servicer-plaintiff-verificatio

 

 

Sales by Insiders AT BOA — RATS JUMPING SHIP? THE MARKET TRADERS ARE TAKING POSITIONS FOR A DEATH SPIRAL BY BOA: Somebody knows something… Rats are jumping ship  http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/bank-of-american-corp-director-sells-580k-shares-and-4-insider-sales-to-note.html/?a=viewall

COURTS CAN RETURN PARTIES TO THEIR ORIGINAL POSITION: this would apply to cases where there is no default – through the “stop payment” script and through those who were actually paying. The Court can return the parties to the original position and wipe out arrears and fees.

INVESTIGATION: BOA TRIES SELLING OFF SERVICING RIGHTS TO AVOID LIABILITY (Remember just because they SAY they sold it doesn’t mean they did. We have seen several instances where BOA announced the loan or servicing rights or both were sold off but they were not and BOA ended up being the one “approving” the short-sale or modification).: GREEN TREE SERVICING AND BANK OF AMERICA

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

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