Daily Archives: August 9, 2016

Sorry you lost your home: Americans deserve more than an apology for the foreclosure fraud epidemic

Despite talk of “recovery,” former homeowners remain scarred after their government abandoned them

“I lost my home of 30 years to fraudclosure.”

“I have been fighting this bank for over five years now. I am finally losing everything to their fraud.”

“We feel captive in our own home.”

This is a sampling of what I have awakened to practically every day for the past few months, since my book “Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud” came out. Hundreds of people have emailed me, sent me letters, attended my public events, to relate their personal horror stories of foreclosure and dispossession. They come from across America, from different social and economic backgrounds. Some lost everything, and some haven’t given up.

They contact me, a non-lawyer who has only written about and not participated in their struggle, because they have been abandoned, by a government that chose sides against them after the crash of 2008. They seek answers that I mostly don’t have and support I mostly cannot provide. Outside of referring them to legal aid, I cannot solve their foreclosure problems. I cannot convince a judge disinclined to rule in their favor, or a bank disinclined to see them as anything but a financial asset to be plucked, to change their minds. I can only note in sorrow that the massive netting of fraud laid by the mortgage industry over a decade ago continues to capture people like them.

But despite my lack of assistance, they typically express to me their gratitude, for one simple reason: just by giving voice to similar nightmares, I have instilled in them hope that they aren’t utterly alone in their misery, that they haven’t been singled out by a vengeful nation, that somewhere out there they have an ally and a confidant.

I wrote my book for them, for everyone who suffered as a result of the largest consumer fraud in American history and the greatest economic collapse in nearly a century. They shouldn’t be forgotten. In fact, somebody should apologize to them for having to bear the weight of the financial collapse on their shoulders, even while that suffering was exacted through outright fraud. It might as well be me.

In “Chain of Title”, I detailed how three foreclosure victims uncovered an unparalleled pattern of deceit: mortgage companies systematically using false evidence in courtrooms and county offices to take people’s homes away. This routine document fabrication covered up the unspeakable crime of breaking the chain of title on millions of home mortgages, confusing the underlying ownership and damaging 350 years of functioning property records law.

Read on.

New Jersey Senate Examines Controversial Student Loan Agency

Executives from student loan agency are no-shows at oversight hearing.

This story was co-published with The New York Times.

Almost a dozen people with harrowing experiences with New Jersey’s controversialstudent loan program testified on Monday before state lawmakers, detailing its aggressive collection tactics and onerous terms that some said had ruined them financially.

“Hesaa destroyed my family,” Tracey Timony, referring to the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said at a hearing before the Higher Education and Legislative Oversight Committees of the New Jersey State Senate.

Ms. Timony had co-signed on her daughter’s loans totaling $140,000. After her daughter defaulted, Ms. Timony was sued by one of the agency’s collection firms and has since declared bankruptcy to get more manageable monthly payments.

The hearing was prompted by an investigation published last month by ProPublica and The New York Times into the agency, which runs the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with nearly $2 billion in outstanding loans.

The agency charges higher interest rates than similar federal programs, the investigation found, and has strikingly broad collection powers. If borrowers fall behind on payments, the agency can garnish wages, seize tax refunds and revoke professional licenses, all without getting a court judgment.

State legislators, who on Monday pushed forward two measures that would give a break to borrowers in the program, said they were troubled by the agency’s tactics.

“We need to end this program, start over from scratch and find ways of providing assistance for students so that they can get an education without it bankrupting them,” said Sen. Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from northern New Jersey and the chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee.

The agency’s executive director, Gabrielle Charette, declined to testify at the hearing. Instead, she sent a letter to legislators, explaining that because the agency is currently conducting an internal review, it would be “premature” to testify on the concerns of borrowers and legislators. Ms. Charette added that the agency would brief the State Senate in the future.

“We’re disappointed that the agency didn’t show up,” Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat and president of the State Senate, said before the hearing.

An executive from the agency had previously dismissed reporting from ProPublica and The Times as “one-sided,” calling the investigation a “biased op-ed.”

Read on.

Proposed bill in NJ would make it illegal to do pretty much anything while driving

Image via Shutterstock

Put down that muffin if you are driving….This is the most insane bill in NJ!

Imagine getting in trouble with the law for drinking and driving, but you were only drinking coffee. That could happen if a New Jersey bill against “distracted driving” passes. The extremely broad proposal would outlaw pretty much any activity by drivers that’s not necessary for driving.

A statement portion of the bill says:

This bill addresses the increasing problem of distracted driving. The bill specifically prohibits a driver from engaging in any activity, not related to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.

That’s pretty vague, but the website for the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety lists a number of activities that are considered “driving distractions.” They include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Tuning a radio or CD player
  • Talking to passengers
  • Tending to children
  • Applying makeup

 

So basically, everything.

Read on.

Yvanova v New Century Loses Appeal

August 8, 2016

Despite expounding on the issues for 30 pages, the Yvanova opinion simply stands for the unremarkable (and, largely, undisputed) proposition that a borrower can sue for wrongful foreclosure where the transaction by which the beneficiary acquired the loan was void to begin with. That narrow holding has been misconstrued by borrowers’ counsel, and by some in the financial industry, who read much more into the Court’s decision than is actually in there.

As framed by the Supreme Court in its order, the sole issue up for review in Yvanova was whether, in a lawsuit for wrongful foreclosure on a deed of trust securing a home loan, the borrower has standing to challenge an assignment of the note and deed of trust by the original lender, or its agent, to a successor entity on the basis of defects allegedly rendering the assignment void.

Read more: http://www.certifiedforensicloanauditors.com/articles/08.16/hot-foreclosure-info-yvanova-v-new-century-loses-appeal.html#ixzz4GoG8oQ9g

Yvanova v New Century Loses Appeal (PDF)

Citigroup Dodges Investors’ $800M RMBS Fraud Suit

Aug. 5 — Citigroup Inc. investors can’t revive a lawsuit alleging they were wrongfully induced to hold on to company stock during the financial crisis, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruledAug. 5 ( AHW Inv. P’ship v. Citigroup Inc., , 2016 BL 253579, 2d Cir., No. 13-4488-cv(L), 8/5/16 ).

The stockholders claimed that the bank made fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations about residential mortgage-backed securities between May 2007 and March 2009. The plaintiffs alleged that they lost more than $800 million by holding on to their stock because of the misstatements.

Read on.

Parents of Benghazi Victims Sue Hillary Clinton for Wrongful Death, Defamation

After GOP Congress conducted 33 Benghazi Congressional hearings, 13 reports, $7 million in cost for Benghazi investigations, Congress found no wrongdoing from Hillary Clinton. Now there is a lawsuit filed against Clinton by two Benghazi victim families:

Nearly 650,000 borrowers to receive more money from Independent Foreclosure Review

The clock is now at zero for the borrowers eligible for payment under the Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreements who have not yet cashed or deposited their check, and their money is going to the borrowers who already cashed their checks.

As it said it would last year, the Federal Reserve Board announced Monday that any leftover money from the $3.9 billion set aside for borrowers as part of the Independent Foreclosure Review will go to borrowers who already received money because some borrowers took too long to cash their checks.

The Fed said last year that borrowers who had not cashed their check had until Dec. 31, 2015 to request a replacement check. Those borrowers then had until March 31, 2016 to cash their new checks.

Now that March 31 has come and gone, there’s still more than $80 million left, and the Fed is directing the paying agent, Rust Consulting, to redistribute the funds to borrowers who cashed their checks by the March 31 deadline.

According to the Fed, the Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreement, overseen by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, provided $3.9 billion for borrowers of 13 servicers whose homes were in any stage of the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010.

Read on.