Five years ago this month, GMAC became the first mortgage servicer to announce that they would suspend foreclosure operations, due to irregularities in their document preparation. Within a few weeks every major mortgage servicer in America followed suit. This is usually called the robo-signing scandal, but to be more precise we gave it the name foreclosure fraud. It ended with the five leading servicers, including GMAC, signing the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement.
Except it didn’t end, and this past week I was handed inconvertible proof of that fact. The scenario is so fantastical that if I didn’t have a working knowledge of foreclosure fraud I wouldn’t have believed it. But it appears to be very real.
Bill Paatalo is a former cop who worked in the mortgage industry as a loan officer and, from 2002-2008, the President of Wissota Mortgage in the Midwest. Since 2009, after experiencing his own mortgage trouble through a loan with Washington Mutual, he became a licensed private investigator specializing in securitization and chain of title analysis. He testifies as an expert witness, working with foreclosure defense attorneys and pro se litigants.
On May 15, Bill got an email out of the blue from Jamie Gerber, “team lead” for a company called Security Connections. Here’s that email:
To back up, Security Connections, of Idaho Falls, ID, is a document services provider for major mortgage companies (their motto: “Bringing you peace of mind”). Bank of America used Security Connections years ago on mortgages originated by First Franklin Bank. We have this deposition of Security Connections robo-signer Krystal Hall, who admitted to signing 400 assignments of mortgage per day without knowing any underlying information about the transactions. That deposition is from November 2009, so they’ve been at this a while.
This brief description of Security Connections from job site Indeed.com helpfully explains that “if you are missing documents or need a mortgage recorded, we have a highly trained department with the skills to locate and record these documents.” They add:
With the implementation of many privacy laws, SCI is extremely sensitive to the needs of our clients. We understand that client-provided information supplied to us for the purpose of completing contractual obligations must be safeguarded. SCI goes the extra mile to satisfy and ease the concerns of our clients while still maintaining a low cost structure.
So this is a third party document processor, designed to give mortgage companies plausible deniability for fabricating mortgage paperwork. And they’re coming to Bill Paatalo, a known expert in fighting foreclosure fraud, to get him to forge a mortgage assignment, so Residential Credit Solutions can get clear title on the mortgage.