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Robosigning: the con goes on

By Jay MacDonald ·
Monday, September 12, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Remember that kerfuffle last fall over "robosigners," those over-caffeinated paper-pushers who forged and rubber-stamped their way through thousands of foreclosure documents a day in order to ram them through our overwhelmed court system?

Turns out they're still at it.

Stop me if you've heard this one: "Several dozen documents reviewed by American Banker show that as recently as August some of the largest U.S. banks, including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Ally Financial Inc., and OneWest Financial Inc., were essentially backdating paperwork necessary to support their right to foreclose. Some of the documents reviewed by American Banker included signatures by current bank employees claiming to represent lenders that no longer exist."

Here are three examples from AB of some fancy document footwork signed this summer.

  • Bank of America assistant vice president Sandra Juarez signed a mortgage assignment that purported to transfer ownership of a mortgage from New Century Mortgage to a trustee, Deutsche Bank. Two problems: New Century, a subprime lender, went bankrupt in 2007 and the Deutsche Bank trust that purported to hold the loan was created for a securitization completed in 2006, five years before Juarez signed it over to the trust.
  • Mollie Schiffman, an assistant vice president at OneWest Bank, signed a mortgage assignment for a loan that was supposed to have been transferred to a Deutsche Bank trust in 2006.
  • Tonya Hopkins signed several documents as an assistant secretary for Sand Canyon Mortgage, the former subprime lending unit of H&R Block. The problem is, Sand Canyon quit the mortgage game in 2009 and sold its loans to American Home Mortgage Servicing, which is where Hopkins actually works.

The banks maintain, as they did last fall, that this is all standard operating procedure, merely "memorializing" actions past, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts as it were.

If so, perhaps borrowers should be allowed the same fudge room. Maybe delete a payment lapse here and there. I'm sure no harm would come of that. Standard procedure, you know.

This bizarre scenario was inevitable given the rush to securitize all those juicy subprime mortgages. But it's one thing to play catch-up and quite another to completely obliterate any chance of due process for those steamrolled by this white-collar con job.

As Lynn E. Szymoniak, a plaintiff's lawyer in West Palm Beach, Fla. told AB, "It's one thing to not have the documents you're supposed to have even though you told investors and the SEC you had them. But they're making up new documents."

If we tried that, they'd call it fraud.

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