Forensic Study Exposes Massive Foreclosure Fraud

Register of Deeds John O’Brien Releases Forensic Study, Finds Mass Fraud in Foreclosure Docs

By: David Dayen Thursday June 30, 2011 2:58 pm

Longtime readers know I’ve been covering the registers of deeds, county officials who wield some degree of power in the case of foreclosure fraud, because they hold in their offices a good deal of physical evidence about mortgage assignments and associated documents. Jeff Thigpen, the register of deeds for Guilford County, North Carolina, did a preliminary investigation of a set of documents in his office and found widespread fraud, particularly from forged documents. Thigpen’s key partner, John O’Brien, a register in Southern Essex County, Massachusetts, has been fighting this fight as well. He vowed not to record any documents he suspected of fraud, which would slow some foreclosures. He demanded that MERS pay millions of dollars in back recording fees which were not paid when banks tracked their own mortgage transfers on a database. But O’Brien hadn’t done the work of auditing his office. Until this week, at a convention for county registers.

At the Annual Conference of The International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT), Register John O’Brien revealed the results of an independent audit of his registry. The audit, which is released as a legal affidavit was performed by McDonnell Property Analytics, examined assignments of mortgage recorded in the Essex Southern District Registry of Deeds issued to and from JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of America during 2010. In total, 565 assignments related to 473 unique mortgages were analyzed.

McDonnell’s Report includes the following key findings:
• Only 16% of assignments of mortgage are valid
• 75% of assignments of mortgage are invalid.
• 9% of assignments of mortgage are questionable
• 27% of the invalid assignments are fraudulent, 35% are “robo-signed” and 10% violate the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
• The identity of financial institutions that are current owners of the mortgages could only be determined for 287 out of 473 (60%)
• There are 683 missing assignments for the 287 traced mortgages, representing approximately $180,000 in lost recording fees per 1,000 mortgages whose current ownership can be traced.

McDonnell told O’Brien… “What this means is that the degradation in standards of commerce by which the banks originated, sold and securitized these mortgages are so fatally flawed that the institutions, including many pension funds, that purchased these mortgages don’t actually own them because the assignments of mortgage were never prepared, executed and delivered to them in the normal course of business at the time of the transaction. In a blatant attempt to engineer a ‘fix’ to the problem, the banks set up in-house document execution teams, or outsourced the preparation of their assignments to third parties who manufactured them out of thin air without researching who really owns the mortgage.”

This is why, and I’ll get into this in a future post, the Bank of America settlement with investors, which appears to indemnify the bank and facilitate a conspiracy of silence between banks and investors on these securitization issues, is a really raw deal. It “solves” one problem, BofA’s exposure to the investors in its mortgage backed securities. But it in no way solves the much larger problem, namely who actually owns these mortgages. An independent auditor, after looking at the evidence, could not figure it out.

Continue reading Forensic Study Exposes Massive Foreclosure Fraud

Posting a Message to Altmire: We Need Jobs and Fair Trade!

PDA activists on June 15 at our monthly ‘Brown Bag Lunch’ action at our Congressman’s local office in Aliquippa, PA. These events are taking place regularly around the country by PDA and its allies. Join us at the next one, on the third Wednesday of the month.

Protect Our Water! Marcellus Debate Bubbles to the Surface

Raucous Crowd Meets on Shale Debate

Forces for and against drilling clash at session run by U.S. advisory board in Washington, Pa.

By Erich Schwartzel
Beaver County Blue via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 14, 2011 – Competing crowds tried to out-shout each other for more than four hours Monday night as Department of Energy representatives came to Washington & Jefferson College for help in forming a national plan for gas drilling, but instead sat quiet as a vicious neighbor-versus-neighbor ordeal played out in the auditorium before them.

The itinerary was simple, with speakers getting two minutes each to address the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board members charged with forming a policy on gas drilling regulations and the hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," extraction process that allows access to most of the gas. It quickly became a referendum on the industry that has infused money and controversy into the towns that lie on the Marcellus Shale gas formation.

It was an auditorium divided: In the span of 10 minutes, the panel members were called drug cartels by one speaker and patriotic heroes by another.

A soldier’s mother choked up when she talked of her son working toward energy independence in Iraq, while another called shale gas "the new asbestos." A West Virginia woman showed the respirator she makes her children wear because of bad air, while another speaker praised an industry that’s supported college scholarships. Recent college graduates extolled a business that gave them jobs in the middle of a recession, while one protestor behind the microphone mockingly waved a wad of cash above his head.

Continue reading Protect Our Water! Marcellus Debate Bubbles to the Surface

Beaver County Artist Gave Us Yet Another Reason to Like the WPA

Mural Depicts Depression Era in Coalfields

By Bill Archer
Progressive America Rising via Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va, June 13, 2011. — A neon light fixture in the lobby of the Bluefield, Va., post office partially obscures a Tazewell County art treasure, but the tempera mural above the postmaster’s office door represents a New Deal initiative that was aimed at restoring morale among citizens who were suffering the lingering effects of surviving the Great Depression.

In the years after the end of World War I, the U.S. economy experienced some robust growth and left evidence of that growth in cities throughout the nation. Most of the imposing structures in the heart of downtown Bluefield including the 13-story tall West Virginian Manor and the Arts and Crafts Center appeared in the mid-1920s, and steel-making coal from southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia was in great demand as builders used steel as the framework for skyscrapers including the Empire State Building completed in 1931.

While “Black Thursday,” Oct. 24, 1029, signaled the start of the decline, the Dust Bowl drought starting in 1930 and lasting almost a decade threw the U.S. into desperate straights and by March 9, 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a “Bank Holiday” and started the process of restoring confidence in the nation’s banks, every American family had been touched in some way by the depression.

Continue reading Beaver County Artist Gave Us Yet Another Reason to Like the WPA