As I have argued a number of times, banks seeking foreclosure have been hampered by the “alphabet derivatives” known as “MBS's” (mortgage backed securities). Often, banks seeking to foreclose on allegedly defaulted mortgages do not own the title to the property in dispute and cannot find it, and therefore cannot (legitimately) pursue their foreclosure actions. It seems that some lenders may have found a convenient way past this objection: systematic fraud.
On August 17, 2010, a federal class action suit was filed on behalf of tens of thousands of New York State homeowners who lost their homes to an alleged foreclosure fraud orchestrated for years by a “foreclosure mill” attorney and major mortgage companies. The case is “Connie Campbell vs. Steven Baum, MERSCORP, Inc, et al.”, Case #10CV3800, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. It claims there were various lending and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violations and that homeowners paid inflated foreclosure and other fees made up by Mr. Baum on behalf of his clients, the lending institutions.
The alleged foreclosure scheme came to light after the class plaintiff lost her home to a foreclosure filed by Baum for HSBC even though the loan had never been assigned to HSBC. A “Satisfaction of Mortgage” was eventually filed by a company named MERS, showing that HSBC never owned the loan, and the foreclosure complaint should have never been filed in the first place.
Perhaps tens of thousands of New Yorkers alone have been thrown out of their homes into the street through fraudulent foreclosure actions. As investigations have continued, it has become increasingly clear that the foreclosure violations are rampant and nationwide.
Some time ago a prominent social commentator likened people opting out of their non-recourse loans to “barbarians at the gates of Rome.” And last year there was a lot of argument about the morality of individuals pursuing this right for which they had negotiated and paid. Supposedly, these people were taking unconscionable advantage of the poor lenders.
As I pointed out at the time, for people to exercise the rights which they negotiated for against well-heeled and sophisticated lenders was hardly a sign of the “break down” of law and order. It was, in fact, simply the legal process working as it should. In this case in favor of the homeowner rather than the banks, for a change. All the morality talk was designed to hoodwink the public into blaming the homeowners rather than the banks, who for years deliberately fostered lax lending practices as a way to inflate prices and increase their profits.
Let's just say the silence of these self-appointed guardians of morality about the revealed practices of the lenders affecting tens of thousands at least, and possibly many millions of homeowners defrauded and rendered homeless is positively deafening.