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.

Reuters has found that some of the biggest U.S. banks and other "loan servicers" continue to file questionable foreclosure documents with courts and county clerks. They are using tactics that late last year triggered an outcry, multiple investigations and temporary moratoriums on foreclosures.

In recent months, servicers have filed thousands of documents that appear to have been fabricated or improperly altered, or have sworn to false facts.

Reuters also identified at least six "robo-signers," individuals who in recent months have each signed thousands of mortgage assignments -- legal documents which pinpoint ownership of a property. These same individuals have been identified -- in depositions, court testimony or court rulings -- as previously having signed vast numbers of foreclosure documents that they never read or checked.

Among them: Christina Carter, an employee of Ocwen Loan Servicing of West Palm Beach, Florida, a "sub-servicer" which handles routine mortgage tasks for banks. Her signature -- just two "C"s -- has appeared on thousands of mortgage assignments and other documents this year.

In a case involving a foreclosure by HSBC Bank USA, a New York state court judge this month called Carter a "known robo-signer" and said he'd found multiple variations of her two-letter signature on documents, raising questions about whether others were using her name. That and other red flags prompted the judge to take the extraordinary step of threatening to sanction HSBC's chief executive officer.

Naked Capitalism on the news:

We’ve heard numerous bank executives swear piously before Congressional hearings that those “paperwork problems” that led major servicers to halt or slow foreclosures on a widespread basis last year were “mistakes”. That was already a really big lies, since “mistake” means the practice was not deliberate and was presumably isolated, when in fact robosigning was a widespread, institutionalized practice.

Good job Reuters, it appears they dug into the deeds registry, that long forgotten practice of investigative journalism, the reason one needs professional press.

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Great Story by Reuters

I agree with all that you said: great story, well researched and a real contribution to a current issue that affects millions of people. This is precisely the kind of thing that a "professional press" is needed to do. The people who don't support their local media and claim the Internet can do it all are just nuts. What army of unpaid bloggers could or would do a story like this?

Question is, will it make a difference?

I sure hope so but frankly I have my doubts.

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Investigative journalism

True investigative journalists are worth their weight in gold ... value rising by the day.

Will any of it make a difference?

I don't know. But the more people pay attention to reality the better off the country will be. Maybe some day politicians will actually be confident that they can speak out on the basis of reality and hope to be re-elected.

Robert Oak has found some exceptions, but for the most part, I find mainstream teevee and radio news to be nothing but a source of delusional thinking, clearly part of a program to promote systematic ignorance among U.S. citizens.

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