housing fraud

The More Things Change The More They Remain the Same

While we think something is going to be done about illegal foreclosures and robo-signing of documents, Reuters exposes it's still going on:

Reuters reviewed records of individual county clerk offices in five states -- Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and North and South Carolina -- with searchable online databases. Reuters also examined hundreds of documents from court case files, some obtained online and others provided by attorneys.

The searches found more than 1,000 mortgage assignments that for multiple reasons appear questionable: promissory notes missing required endorsements or bearing faulty ones; and "complaints" (the legal documents that launch foreclosure suits) that appear to contain multiple incorrect facts.

These are practices that the 14 banks and other loan servicers said had occurred only on a small scale and were halted more than six months ago.

Reuters doesn't go into a financial analysis, but while the settlement originally reported was $20 billion for robo-signing, the reality is the final deal isn't done. Bottom line, when fines are so weak they are about the cost of the toll token for traveling down the screwing over homeowners road, you can bet banks will continue to forge documents to foreclose. Robo-signing is illegal.

Major Bust for Mortgage Fraud, 485 arrests

Some Progress! The DOJ announced a major bust on mortgage fraud, with a nice title too, Operation Stolen Dreams.

The nationwide initiative called Operation Stolen Dreams is the largest collective enforcement effort aimed at confronting the problem of mortgage fraud, Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference. It involves 1,215 criminal defendants in cases that uncovered more than $2.3 billion in losses.

The Justice Department also has engaged in civil enforcement actions to recover more than $147 million in the operation.

This was the largest criminal action on mortgage fraud in history. From the Department of Justice press conference:

In Miami, just yesterday we unsealed an indictment and arrested two defendants who allegedly targeted the Haitian-American community, often claiming they would assist them with immigration and housing issues, but then instead using victims’ personal information to produce false documents to obtain mortgage loans.

SEC charging ex-CEO Mozilo with fraud

Looks like ex-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo is going to be doing the perp walk.

(AP) -- Federal regulators on Thursday charged Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp., and two other company executives with civil fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Commission's civil lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, also accuses Mozilo of illegal insider trading.
Civil fraud charges also were filed against Countrywide's former chief operating officer David Sambol, 49, and ex-chief financial officer Eric Sieracki, 52.