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Plenty of presidents and even more vice

By Holden Lewis ·
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Posted: 10 am ET

Q: What do you call someone who completes one semester of college, works for six years as a customer service representative for a company that sells window shades, and then shuffles papers for two years in a bank's document execution department?

A: You call her vice president of loan documentation for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Q: What do you call an operations manager at a Florida law firm who does "a little bit of everything. I hire, fire, do some H.R., a little document execution"?

A: You call her vice president of MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems), even though she doesn't know where the MERS offices are located. You call her vice president of ABN AMRO, a megabank headquartered in the Netherlands. She doesn't collect a paycheck from either company that she's a vice president of.

Both of these women -- Xee Moua of Wells Fargo and Cheryl Samons of the Law Offices of David J. Stern -- testified in depositions that they regularly spent about two hours each work day, signing foreclosure affidavit after foreclosure affidavit. How many? Samons says on a typical day she signed more than 100 and "definitely not more than a million." Moua says she signed 50 to 100 an hour.

These are two of your much-talked-about robosigners. And in their depositions, they acknowledge that they affixed their signatures to statements that were not true or, at best, were truthy. They said they had personal knowledge that the details in the affidavit were true, when they had no such knowledge. They signed off as vice presidents of companies for which they were not executives.

Two weeks ago I said these bits of dishonesty were no big deal. I wrote that the "overwhelming majority of (homeowners in foreclosure) haven't been making their house payments," and that was the important thing.

But maybe it's more important that we insist that people tell the truth in the legal paperwork that results in foreclosure. The depositions show that the bailed-out behemoth banks and their law firms lied habitually to the courts. Who else did they lie to, and about what?

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Holden Lewis
October 21, 2010 at 9:51 am

Good question, and I don't know the answer. My guess is that the "who owns the note" question isn't a dominant killer of modifications.

October 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Interesting article. Agreed that the letter of the law is vital. Fake signatures/affidavits are serious - they undermine the principles of property transfer which is itself a big deal.

Agreed that people who stop paying mortgages should not get a free house - but they should never be evicted on false paperwork! If the banks resort to fraud to enforce what is equitably theirs - then they need sanctions. Fines and criminal charges on their employees.

A lot of home-owners have been ripped off. Many were encouraged by teaser rates to take loans they should never have considered. The banks knew that loans could be sold on so all underwriting standards went out the door. That is not the fault of many delinquent homeowners who were misled into "living the dream" of homeowning when they should have stayed renting.

House prices went much higher because of artifical demand. Millions who are not delinquent are overpaying on underwater homes. Where is their redress from the mortgage-flipping banks?

The very least the banks can do is be honest with their paperwork. They should not get away with fraud one bit.

Debra James
October 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

In one of your previous blogs about this subject, I asked if the banks are taking the same short-cuts when making determinations about loan modifications? Another question I now have, is the reason why so many people cannot qualify for a modification is because the banks or mortgage-servicers don't have the proper paperwork to verify who actually owns the loan and has the authority to approve a modification? So, they push paper from hither and fro, dragging the process and wearing down the home-owners will to fight to keep their homes until ultimately they decline the ones who try to maintain hope and stuck it out even to the detriment of their family's well-being.

October 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Sounds like you're finally beginning to understand. Even if you believe that people should be thrown out of their homes the day after missing a payment, the banks shouldn't be lying to courts.

Worse, since they're cavalier about lying to courts it raises the question of who else are they lying to? What decisions have they made where they believe that their decision making ability is better than the processes and procedures -- the rules -- so they just ... cheat.

It's like a strong sports team defeating a weak sports team by purposefully food poisoning their lead players the night before the game then saying "well, we would've won anyway so no harm, no foul." The answer, of course, is that if they would've won anyway then they just should have played by the rules or -- if they thought the weak team was really lame -- asked the league to change the rules.