Archive for October 13th, 2010
We now know that many of the “foreclosure experts” who were signing many thousands (perhaps millions) of affidavits that allowed banks to kick delinquent homeowners out of their homes were utterly unqualified to understand the sorts of technical information they were spewing while under oath. In short, the banks were allowing and requiring incompetent employees to lie under oath in order to allow foreclosures to go forward:
In an effort to rush through thousands of home foreclosures since 2007, financial institutions and their mortgage servicing departments hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines and installed them in “foreclosure expert” jobs with no formal training, a Florida lawyer says. In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn’t define the word “affidavit.” Others didn’t know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers’ accusations about document fraud.
Even under the assumption that many or most of these homeowners were actually delinquent, this is incredibly disturbing. Richard H. Neiman, New York’s top bank regulator and a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel, a federal bailout watchdog, has expressed concern:
“In recent days, it has become apparent that a number of mortgage loan servicers have submitted affidavits or other foreclosure documents that appear to have procedural defects,” the Conference of State Bank Supervisors said in a statement. “In addition, many affidavits may have been signed without a notary public being present.
NPR has provided a more detailed description about the kind of people who served as “robo-signers”:
ARNOLD: [T]his GMAC employee told him that even though he was supposed to be certifying the accuracy of the documents in a homeowner’s file…
Mr. COX: He said he that doesn’t look at them. He doesn’t bother to go search them out in the computer to look at them.
ARNOLD: And Cox said the sheer volume of foreclosures appeared to make doing a thorough job impossible. Stefan testified he’s signing between eight and 10,000 documents a month.
Mr. COX: That works out to be about one a minute. Some of those loan files contain a hundred or more documents.
ARNOLD: Housing advocates call employees like this robo-signers. They say they barely have a chance to glance at all the documents that they’re asked to sign.
These fraudulent foreclosure cases are hitting the courts all over. And they should, because many of these homeowners were lied to on the way in (about “yield spread premiums” and exploding ARM’s and hidden penalties), and now they (and the courts) are being lied to on the way out. In fact, based on my personal experience as a consumer lawyer, the lies on the way in, and the shodding servicing, led to the foreclosure.
Here’s a synopsis of a lawsuit filed Oct 1, 2010 by Center for Responsible Lending:
Five Maine residents filed a complaint today against GMAC Mortgage, LLC (GMAC) on behalf of themselves and a class of Maine homeowners, alleging that the company routinely and systematically files false certifications that it has a right to foreclose on Maine homeowners, and false affidavits when asking courts to enter foreclosure judgments.
The homeowners complain that GMAC files these false documents knowing that the courts in Maine will rely on them in deciding whether foreclosures can go forward and in allowing GMAC to sell their homes. Depositions of GMAC employees revealed that they do not verify the truth of information necessary to give GMAC the right to foreclose when they sign these court documents and that these improper practices have been in place since at least 2004.
This situation is horrendous. It justifies impolite synonyms for banks: house-jackers. Banksters. If you cringe at this language and consider it overbroad, ask yourself whether “innocent” bankers knew of this problem and whether they often discussed it at the country club with the evil bankers. And they didn’t step up and report it. Consider also that the banks so often preach the importance of the “letter of the law” when slapping huge fees and penalties on home-owners, even when the homeowners are only a day late with their payments. Now here are those same banks, absolutely unable to establish a chain of title necessary for a foreclosure, but they utterly don’t give a rat’s ass about the letter of the law, because this archaic rule (letter of the law) is now a burden to the banks.
From the perspective of the banks, the solution to the problem that they can’t figure out how to establish their case in the context of the convoluted system that they themselves created, is to systematically lie under oath. Over and over and over. And now that the banks have been caught by the national media, and because the media is paying attention, the politicians also need to pay attention to this problem, and everything has become awkward for the banks. Very Inconvenient. They might have to pay big money to send thousands of lobbyists to Congress to fix this problem. And then they will have to jack up their rates and penalties and other tricks and traps to pay for those lobbyists.
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Increasing numbers of voters point to the growing federal deficits as a major issue for deciding their votes come November, 2010. If those voters took a look at which of the two major parties is responsible for the current deficit situation, they would not vote for any Republican, anywhere. After all, it was Karl Rove and Dick Cheney who said; “Deficits don’t matter” (and see here).
But, for those which find themselves concerned over ever growing budget deficits and see them as a threat to the financial security of America at large and their children and grandchildren in particular, deficits do matter. And it’s Republican Presidents who were in charge during the creation of most of the current deficit.
Since Richard Nixon, the tax cut and spend policies of successive Republican Presidents has accounted for the vast majority of the US outstanding national debt. The total percentage of US National Debt accrued under Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush I and Bush II is over 73.2 % of the amount which has been incurred since the beginning of the United States.
Ronald Reagan won the Presidential election in 1980 by claiming that the national debt was at an “all time high of $1 trillion.” Imagine that! In 1980, the entire national debt was at only $1 trillion! Now the national debt is $13.64 trillion and climbing each second.
Bill Clinton added deficits totaling some $1.6 trillion. If we add up all the national debt prior to 1980 plus Bill Clinton’s $1.6 trillion, we get $2.6 trillion. If we include $1.3 trillion arguably attributable (which since the federal fiscal year of 2009 began on October 1, 2008 before Mr. Obama was even elected but, let’s be generous to our tax cut and spend Republican friends!) to the Obama administration, all of those add up to a total of $3.9 trillion. That leaves $10.74 trillion to Presidents Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.
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