by Brian Mahany
Mortgage fraud is rampant. Even the most pro-business radio talk show commentators can’t ignore the fact that lenders have done many bad things. Good people are on the street broke and with destroyed credit, the economy is in the toilet and lenders have paid very little in relation to the mess they created. The pendulum is finally beginning to swing back, however. The cases coming from U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara in New York and the President’s mortgage fraud task force show that the government is getting serious.
The government only has so many resources, however. They can’t investigate every case. The enforcement actions that HUD and the Justice Department tend to bring are the larger false claims and FIRREA actions where the damages sought are in the hundreds of millions. (Mahany & Ertl’s own Joe Bird is presently partnered with the government in the largest mortgage fraud case ever filed – our $2.4 billion case against Allied Home Mortgage.) Last week the Huffington Post published an article on the work done by local governments.
According to the article, San Francisco city assessor Phil Ting found that 85% of 400 audited foreclosure files showed serious problems with the paperwork or were simply “illegal.” Is that an aberration? No!
A similar report last year from the register of deeds in the suburban Boston area found 83% of foreclosures had deficient paperwork. In fact, in more than half of those foreclosures the paperwork was forged or fraudulent!
The columnist for the Post concluded that until a senior bank official goes to jail, the mess will continue. Fraudulent documents get filed every day in courthouses across the country. Locally, around the corner from our Milwaukee office, we are aware of one couple who has been fighting Bank of New York for 5 years. The bank says they did not pay their mortgage yet the couple has copies of all their checks showing they were never late.
The mortgage fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl generally don’t represent individual homeowners (although we will in limited instances). We do represent whistleblowers from the mortgage industry who are tired of the lies and deception and who wish to come forward. We also represent homeowners as part of class action lawsuits.
If you have a particularly bad horror story or have first hand nonpublic information about mortgage fraud, give us a call. We genuinely want to listen. In many instances, whistleblowers may be entitled to a large percentage of whatever monies the government collects.
We are happy to see local officials getting involved. Already we know of two counties that will not accept foreclosures filed by lenders that have a history of forged documents. We are also aware of one judge who has barred a foreclosure law firm from appearing in her court. Her reason? The firm apparently was caught forging documents and misleading the court and homeowners.
Until some people do go to jail, we applaud local officials for stepping in and protecting homeowners.
If you wish more information about our firm, wish to become a whistleblower or have an unusual fraud case, give us a call. All calls are confidential.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Detroit, Portland & Minneapolis. Services available in many jurisdictions.