Daily Archives: May 18, 2016

CFPB targets costly auto-title loans

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — A federal watchdog agency on Wednesday slammed so-called auto-title lenders, arguing the companies take advantage of short-term borrowers and leave them financially worse off.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a new report highlighting the dangers of such short-term borrowing for consumers who often lack other means to finance the purchase of cars and trucks.

The agency is aiming to craft new guidelines on auto-title loans, payday loans and other short-term financing, usually involving small dollar amounts, that the CFPB says hurt consumers more than they help them.
Proposals are circulating in Congress to tighten controls on these loans, but the odds of Republicans who control both chambers passing such rules this year appear slim at best. The CFPB has authority to act on its own, however.

Read on.

Foreclosure Fraud Is Supposed to Be a Thing of the Past, But It Happens Every Day

Chain of Title

Great job, David. And yes, foreclosure is still happening despite the financial analysts and banks are still stating that foreclosure is declining… A digitally notarized document? Now that is the newest fraud tactic.

By David Dayen

Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, is about three foreclosure victims who ended up doing more investigation of the corrupt U.S. mortgage industry than any state or federal law enforcement or regulatory official.

Here at The Intercept, in the past 10 months, I’ve written about the New Jersey man who had precious family heirlooms robbed by Wells Fargo subcontractors when they illegally “trashed out” his foreclosed home. I’ve written about the use of false documents in Seattle and the unregistered business trusts operating in Montana. I’ve written about the Texas jury that awarded $5 million in one wrongful foreclosure case with fabricated and robo-signed documents. I’ve written about the California Supreme Court enabling foreclosure victims to challenge phony documents in their cases.

That’s just a small sampling of what I hear nearly every day from homeowners who continue to challenge their cases and reveal massive fraud. And these are a few more:

  • Here’s a document dated August 4, 2010. It’s an assignment of a deed of trust from the originator, American Brokers Conduit, to Wells Fargo. It was not only digitally signed, but it was digitally notarized. So the computer appeared personally before the other computer, I guess, to verify that this was the authentic computer that signed the document.
  • Here are some documents from a “Tanya Ramirez”, signing as an officer of Countrywide, Bank of America, Recontrust, New Century Mortgage, and MERS (an private electronic registry used by banks to transfer mortgages), and once as a notary. All of the signatures are different. The partial lien release on the home of Doug Didrick, used to speed up a sheriff’s sale, was submitted to a Collier County, Florida court in April 2015, just one year ago. So this robo-signer still works for a company that forecloses on people for a living.


  • Earlier this month, a lawsuit from a Wells Fargo whistleblower named Duke Tran was unsealed. Tran says that he discovered that the bank routinely foreclosed on borrowers without proper documentation to prove they owned the loans. Wells Fargo managers instructed Tran, a 10-year veteran of a call center in Oregon, to lie about this lack of proof to customers. “When you come across a situation where we have a lost contract, deed, any type of document, really, but especially when it relates to securing a property, we are not to share that with the customer,” read one email from management. When Tran refused to comply, he says they fired him. This was in November 2014, years after Wells settled cases with the federal government over improper mortgage documentation. Tran said that Wells used improper documentation to collect on $1.4 billion in foreclosure prevention funding from the Home Affordable Modification Program. Wells Fargo denies any wrongdoing.
  • After Marina Boyd, a former corporate human resources manager from Los Angeles, fell into financial trouble, she sought a loan modification to stay in her home. In July 2010 she got approved; all she had to do was send a cashier’s check for $2,000. She did, but the bank said they never received it. The property was sold to CitiMortgage without her knowing about it until the sale went through. After fighting for a year, the sheriff told her to move out in September 2011; she left with the clothes on her back, expecting to be able to come back for her possessions, most of which were boxed up. Boyd begged the real estate agent in multiple phone calls to allow her to pick up her stuff. But one day she went by the house and everything was gone. “I called the agent and said ‘where’s my property, who took it?’” Boyd said. “The agent said ‘it’s gone, that’s it,’ and hung up on me.” Boyd, acting as her own lawyer, discovered that Citi explicitly instructed the real estate agent to haul everything away, offering him thousands of dollars to do it. “Task opened for the trashout… amount approved is $3,050… please get it done ASAP,” reads one email Boyd obtained in the case. The case is still in court, as years of discovery requests and attempts to depose Citi employees continue. There’s a trial scheduled in June. “Access to justice shouldn’t take five years,” Boyd said in a recent article posted at a website she created about the case. She’s made a video about the case too.
  • Just last month, a Dade County, Fla., Circuit Court judge dismissedHSBC’s foreclosure case against Joseph Buset. HSBC had cited an alleged 2012 mortgage assignment from Freemont Investment and Loan, a company that was liquidated in 2008. HSBC claimed they had bought the mortgage directly from the defunct company, but the judge ruled that the 2012 document reflected “a transaction that never happened,” was “created for purposes of litigation,” and failed to establish proof that HSBC is the proper owner and holder of the loan. It’s one of many cases out of Florida that have been reversed recently for lack of standing to foreclose, years after the issue was supposed to have been resolved.
  • On May 7, protesters sought to stop the eviction of Barbara Campbell, a wheelchair-bound former Girl Scouts director, from her Detroit home. While seeking a loan modification in 2013, Campbell was told by her mortgage servicer, Nationstar, to stop making mortgage payments while they reviewed the request. The servicer then immediately moved to foreclose, citing the “failure to make mortgage payments.” A different bank, Flagstar, is the plaintiff in the foreclosure case, despite not having definitive proof that it owns the loan, according to activists with Detroit Eviction Defense. You can see at the Detroit Eviction Defense websitethat they fight dozens of similar cases.

Read on.

JPMorgan, Citigroup Sued in London by Two Currency Traders

Two more bankers joined a list of currency traders suing their employers in London following $10 billion in fines dished out by regulators in the wake of the foreign-exchange scandal.

Patrice Ktorza, an executive director in FX sales who left JPMorgan Chase & Co. in August, is suing the bank for unfair dismissal, according to a court filing. Nihel Bensenane, who still works in foreign-exchange sales at Citigroup Inc., is suing in a dispute over pay and sexual discrimination, the records state.

The pair of salespeople add to a group of employees on foreign exchange desks who have sued banks in recent months following widespread firings and internal disputes in the wake of the foreign-exchange scandal. Bensenane is the fourth employee to take Citigroup to court after former traders Perry Stimpson, Carly McWilliams and Robert Hoodless sued.

Read on.


Here Is Donald Trump’s Full 104 Page Report Claiming Over $557 Million In 2015 Income


With Donald Trump’s tax return dominating this part of the republican presidential candidate’s news cycle, in an attempt to deflect attention from his IRS filing which Turmp has said he won’t disclose, last night Trump filed a personal financial statement with the FEC. According to a Trump statement accompanying the release, “the newly filed PFD shows a tremendous cash flow, and a revenue increase of approximately $190 million dollars (which does not include dividends, interest, capital gains, rents and royalties),” Trump said in the release, and it was used to fund construction projects, reduce debt and fund his presidential campaign.

Trump told the FEC that his income is in excess of $557 million. “This income was utilized, among other things, for the funding of construction projects at various multi-million dollar developments, reduction of debt and the funding” of his GOP presidential campaign said the statement.

“As of this date, Mr. Trump’s net worth is in excess of $10b”: Trump statement

“Despite the fact that I am allowed extensions, I have again filed my report, which is 104 pages, on time,” Trump concluded.


JPMorgan Chase wins dismissal of Madoff investors’ U.S. lawsuit


JPMorgan Chase & Co on Wednesday won the dismissal of a lawsuit by former investors of Bernard Madoff’s firm who blamed the largest U.S. bank for turning a blind eye to his Ponzi scheme.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan said the plaintiffs failed to show that JPMorgan had specific control over Madoff’s fraudulent activities. He also said the allegations suggested at most that JPMorgan’s conduct was negligent, not fraudulent.

Read on.

Ex-Barclays trader tells court Libor rate promise was ‘just banter’

A former Barclays trader accused of conspiring to rig a global interest rate said a promise to name a colleague in a book and to invite him to his bar in return for help in setting Libor was “just banter”.

Greek-born Stylianos Contogoulas told Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday that he had been instructed by his boss within days of joining the Barclays dollar desk in 2005 to tell a senior colleague the level he wanted Libor rates set at.

“‎It was done very openly and in a very normal way and gave the impression this was a regular, normal thing,” Contogoulas said on his first day in the witness box.

Contogoulas, 44, is one of five former Barclays bankers charged with conspiracy to defraud by manipulating Libor, the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark for rates on around $450 trillion of financial contracts worldwide.

Read on.

Housing experts fear impact of Trump, Sanders presidency

Zillow survey shows experts bullish on Clinton; not so much on Trump, Sanders


If the American people choose President Trump or President Sanders, the impact on housing would be decidedly negative, according to survey results released Wednesday by Zillow.

In an effort to determine the potential impact of each of the presidential challengers, Zillow surveyed more than 100 housing experts about their expectations for the housing market, and specifically about how each presidential candidate would impact the housing economy.

The experts were asked for their view on the impact each candidate would have on home values, housing finance reform, and the overall economy.

Both Sanders and Trump do not fare well in the experts’ eyes.

According to Zillow’s survey, the housing experts said that Trump and Sanders would both have a negative impact on home values, housing finance reform and the overall economy if elected.

Clinton, on the other hand, fared better in the eyes of surveyed experts.

Zillow’s survey results showed that the experts see a positive impact on home values and housing finance reform during a Hillary Clinton administration and a neutral impact on the overall economy.

The results of the Zillow report are based on a survey of 107 experts conducted between April 25 and May 5, 2016.

Given the timeframe of the survey, the respondents were also asked about the impact of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX.

Interestingly, Kasich fared the best of all the candidates in the eyes of the housing experts.

The experts said that Kasich would have had a positive impact on home values, housing finance reform and the overall economy, while Cruz would have had a negative impact on all three categories.

According to Zillow, the survey respondents predicted home price appreciation would end 2016 up 4% year-over-year, up from expectations of 3.7% in the previous Home Price Expectations Survey.

But, if Sanders or Trump is elected, the economists would lower their expectations for home values and the overall performance of the U.S. economy.

Zillow’s report showed that respondents viewed Kasich’s centrist views most favorably, and least liked Sanders’ Socialist ideas and Trump’s unpredictability.

“As the presidential election nears, candidates’ individual plans for the economy are increasingly under scrutiny,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

“Many of the candidates’ proposals sound appealing to voters, but a closer look through the panelists’ economic lens reveals the potential impact on our economy,” Gudell said.

“The results from this survey show us that from these economists’ standpoint, the more centrist candidates from either party would be best for the economy and housing market,” Gudell continued. “Respondents saw the more polarizing political leanings of Donald Trump and Sen. Sanders as having a negative effect.”

Click on the image below to see the views of the housing experts of the candidates.

Zillow report on presidential candidates


Ex-Citigroup Head Vikram Pandit Gets Back to His Finance Roots

Old-school finance still appeals to former Citigroup Inc. CEOVikram Pandit.

Mr. Pandit, 59, has started a new company with an investment firm backed by Comcast Corp. that will seek big stakes in more mature financial services companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The venture may reflect a recent shift in deal making: Venture-capital investors lately have been backing off of funding finance and banking startups, some of which Mr. Pandit has invested in recently. Meanwhile, deals for older companies that serve banks and other financial-services firms more broadly have been rising in value, with intense bidding driving up price tags of firms such as Interactive Data Holdings Corp. and SNL Financial.

Read on.

Home bidder believes investors are snapping up government foreclosure properties against the rules

Pasco County, FL – After the housing crash, the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, set up the Homepath program, allowing people who planned to live in previously foreclosed homes an opportunity to buy them before investors.

But the I-Team has learned that the program doesn’t always work to put owner-occupants in homes, since rules are sometimes hard to understand and not everyone is abiding by them.

“I had my heart set on it,” said Clearwater cigar store owner Leglio Sotolongo of his dream home.

The property, located in rural Pasco County, came with a barn and stables on five acres.

Read on.