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How You Can Easily Research State Records For Evidence Of Unremediated LPS Robo-Signing Fraud

Posted by Neil Garfield | September 26, 2017

By Eric Mains, Former FDIC Team Leader

Introduction

Many of the banks conducting foreclosures 2008-2013 relied on a few large foreclosure mills to litigate cases for them, and still do. For large banks, it made sense–consolidate your cases with specialized firms employing dozens of attorneys/paralegals, one-stop shop the process. Most of these firms from 2008-2013 used a version of Lender Processing Services ("LPS") Desktop software program to create needed assignments for claimed holders of loans (Extra stress on the "claimed" part!). Some estimates put LPS's dominance of the foreclosure software marketplace at 80% of the market during that period. LPS helped banks retain attorneys for foreclosures, and not surprisingly often chose large foreclosure mills to partner with- mills that often times had much in common with the infamous David Stern firm in Florida.

Stern's firm became infamous for performing foreclosures using robo-signed/ forged documents when parties claiming holder in due course status lacked one inconvenient little thing–proper chain of title backing up their alleged home loans. The Stern law firm was ultimately brought down by its malfeasance after being investigated by the Florida AG's office and sued successfully in multiple class actions.

The robo-signing scandal was also brought front and center in modern pop culture when CBS's 60 Minutes newsmagazine aired an episode on the infamous use of "Linda Green" by an LPS unit as a pseudonym to endorse thousands of invalid note assignments. The episode told the story of Lynn Szymoniak's successful investigation and qui tam lawsuit exposing the rampant use of robo-signing/forgery by banks and foreclosure mills to pursue illegal foreclosure actions.

In 2013 a widely touted Consent Judgment (CJ) by the various State AG's offices claimed to have resolved LPS's robo-signing practices. The problem became however, if there were 1000&aspo;s of these robo-signed documents out there, how exactly did the AG's offices follow up to confirm the documents were in fact remediated? How did they confirm the robo-signing/forgery by LPS had stopped? This was what the CJ required, and the State AG&aspo;s offices were to get quarterly reports from LPS confirming their compliance through January 2018. So why are the State AG's offices refusing to release copies of these compliance reports to this day?

Why have they never published a list of the names of known robo-signers to be distributed to homeowners or their attorneys? Or released data on how many homeowners received required remediation under the settlement? Strange behavior from the office(s) of AG's who collected millions under the settlement with LPS, and claimed a "Win" for consumers… or maybe not so strange if they simply failed to do anything TO follow up on the CJ. So what can the average person, or potentially a class action attorney, do to see if LPS actually complied with the CJ and remediated documents BEFORE foreclosing on homeowners, as the CJ required? Below is a basic guide one can use to get started.

STEP #1- Identify the Foreclosure Mill Attorney

Attorneys in every state are identified by a unique Attorney number (see ex. below). This makes it very easy to track the cases they have handled if your state has an online database. Unfortunately for large foreclosure mills, this also makes it extremely easy to track the specific foreclosure cases their attorney's have handled because that's basically the only kind of cases they handled. Alternately, you can do a search by name of bank, name of trust, etc., in most state databases, but the attorney ID number seems to work best when concentrating on one firm. The example I use below is from the State of Indiana, and uses the IN public roll of attorney database, as well as its Odyssey case management system which allows the user to search non-confidential cases. Most states do provide similar such free database systems to the public. The case lists usually go back up to a decade or more.

Indiana Roll of Attorneys

The Roll of Attorneys is the listing of all attorneys licensed to practice law in Indiana. Search for attorneys by name or attorney number. Each attorney's record includes license status, disciplinary history, contact information, and any other names the attorney has practiced under.

Top of Form

Search for an Indiana attorney:

By Name :

Last Name (required)

First Name

Attorney Number:

  1. 99999-99

Bottom of Form

Results

Kemper , Lawrence Joseph 18029-29 Carmel IN 10-31-1994 Active In Good Standing

STEP #1a- Search For Cases the Firm/Attorney Handled.

The mortgage foreclosure cases will be marked as such, with all litigation information available when you click on the details. Once you do that, you have party names, filings, home address of the house being foreclosed, etc. So, say you are looking for all foreclosures handled by a foreclosure mill attorney from 2008-2010, or end of 2012 through 2014? Easy to sort out using a database like above, just refine your search fields.

Prepare a list of foreclosure cases filed by your subject attorney/firm. You will want to narrow it down by the relevant dates LPS & its attorneys were required to remediate documents (2008-2010), as well as looking at foreclosures instigated and completed between early to mid-2012 through end of 2013 (or in some cases later). Why? If you later find evidence of robo-signing and backdating post January 2013, this helps establish the foreclosure mill attorneys and LPS directly violated the CJ by moving ahead with a foreclosure using documents they knew violated its terms. With your list of cases, names, etc., you're ready for Step #3.

https://public.courts.in.gov/mycase/#/vw/Search

Search Results

Attorney Search
Attorney Search
First:
Middle:
Last:
Sounds-like:
Business:
Attorney#: 18029-29
DOB:
Court:
Limit To: Civil
File Date:
Status:
  • List
  • Hide List Details Show List Details
  • Table

1 to 20 of 2449

by File Date, Descending

1 2 3 4 5

JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association v. Glen David Johnson, Glen David Johnson, Any Unknown Occupants et al

49D07-1709-MF-034571

Court

Marion Superior Court, Civil Division 7

Case Type

MF – Mortgage Foreclosure

Filed

09/11/2017

Status

09/11/2017, Pending

Charges

Parties

JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, Johnson, Occupants, Flanagan DDS, IMC Credit Services, LLC, MSW Capital LLC, Unifund CCR Partners Assignee of Palisades Ac…

Attorneys

Tekulve, Kemper, Flatt, Lawrence, Matheis

STEP #2- Locate the Land Record of Interest and Assignments.

Once you have this information, it is a simple matter to locate any recorded assignments in the county recorder's office. Luckily, this is also available online & automated for your convenience in most states…and cheaply at that!! Using the State of Indiana as an example again, they use a commercial service called Doxpop (FYI, Doxpop handles MI too). Through these services, ANYONE can search for recorded land title records (See below). Average cost to search for, pull up, and print an assignment from home or office? $1-3 per assignment, depending on if you buy a bulk search package or just do single search. You are going to be scanning for any assignment performed just prior to, or during, a foreclosure action. In some cases a corrective assignment may exist, and if so the signature should be that of the actual person authorized to sign for a bank…good to have for later.

STEP #3- Time to Start Comparing Sig&aspo;s, Date(s), & Notary Cards Against Your Claimed Notary.

Time to start playing "Which signature(s) don't match?" (both Attorney-in-Fact and Notary), and "f;Which recording dates don't make sense?". You will be comparing signatures of known LPS robo-signers, whose names are easily found on the web… Google "robo-signers & LPS" as a search and you will find a trove of websites listing names. In the alternative, you will find many of them listed in Lynn Szymoniak's original qui tam lawsuit, also available on the web in PDF.

So what are you looking for?

-Signatures by "Attorneys-in-Fact" on assignments used in a foreclosure case should match one another if made by one person. They shouldn't be unrecognizable scribble marks in one case, legible in another, non-matching in multiple instances, etc., …common-sense stuff.

-Look at the signatures of the "Notary" on the assignment. Ditto with the above- BUT FURTHER– If they are a registered notary, does their signature match the signature card on file at the registered State agency? (Available by going down in person or requesting such from that county by mail usually).

-If the notary dated the assignment on "XX-XX-XXXX" date, then the assignment would have been sent directly to the county recorder's office to be recorded afterwards, usually 30 days to protect priority of lien. If there is an unexplained lapse in time from notary signing to recording.. 9 months..years..Why??

Question(s) for attorney's in a FC case if they performed discovery-

a.) Did the foreclosure mill attorney ever disclose that the documents used and material parties involved in your case included LPS, or the use of the Desktop software platform?

b.) The CJ directly affected the FC mill attorneys because of LPS conduct of interfering in the relationship between FC mill attorneys & their "real" clients (banks, servicers). LPS was found to have virtually taken over the foreclosure process in retaining and directing attorneys as to what to do from 2008-2013. Query- was the attorney effectively able to relay any requests for discovery/production of documents, arbitrate loan modification meetings (required in many states), etc., with the "real"/ supposed note holder, or did LPS interfere with these activities so pervasively as to render them a nullity?

b.) Did the foreclosure mill attorney disclose to you the fact a Consent Judgment had been issued and the documents in your case might be covered by it? Did they point out a toll free number was available for you to contact and request information/lodge complaints?

Remember- it was just such evidence of forgery and backdating, attorney/client interference, etc., that landed Lynn Szymoniak $18M when she filed her qui tam lawsuit…her suit ultimately leading to the 2013 $125M Multistate Consent Judgment with LPS. What could a good class action attorney do with mass evidence LPS & FC mill attorney's NEVER remediated robo-signing as required or disclosed material evidence/parties in discovery?….. Love to find out!

The Terms of the 2013 Consent Judgment in Relevant Part

Definitions, section 2.2: "Covered Conduct" shall mean LPS’ practices related to mortgage default servicing, including document creation, preparation, execution, recordation, and notarization practices as they relate to Mortgage Loan Documents as well as LPS’ relationships with attorneys representing the servicers and other third parties through the Effective Date of this Judgment.

Release, section 2.7: "Nothing herein shall be construed as a waiver or release of any private rights, causes of action, or remedies of any person against the Defendants with respect to the Covered Conduct." (See above!)

** Important- The Below Was Required of LPS under the CJ

"LPS will undertake a review of documents executed during the period of Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2010 to determine what documents, if any, need to be re-executed or corrected. If LPS is authorized to make the corrections, it will do so and will make periodic reports to the AG's Office of the status of its review and/or modification of documents."

Per section 3.2 of the Consent Judgment, the 48 State AG's offices are responsible for monitoring LPS compliance with the consent judgment through January 31, 2018. LPS is required to be in compliance with not only the terms of the Consent Judgment, but other mortgage servicing agreements and judgments in force, such as the widely touted National Mortgage Settlement, and is in compliance with the servicing standards of those settlements and other applicable state or federal laws.

Through January 31, 2018, LPS will allow the 48 state AG's access to non-privileged documents without need for a subpoena or other compulsory process.

Section 6.1 allows the 48 State AG's the right to reopen investigations into LPS for noncompliance with the CJ.

Section 7.1 allows for the State AG's to take action for other violations of law, and take any actions necessary to protect the health and safety of the public.

What's in it for you?

A search of 100 assignments looking for evidence that foreclosures were completed in violation of the CJ using robo-signed or backdated documents may cost as little as $100-$200. Cost to benefit ratio wise, if you are a large class action law firm, and if you have just a 10% hit ratio of questionable documents after searching 500 documents, that's $500-$1000 spent to get 50 potential clients. Not bad when you look at what happened with David Stern's firm, and look at the millions of dollars collected it in class actions.

The State AG's are in a bit of a quandry as noted above, because if mass evidence is unearthed showing a failure to remediate and correct before foreclosing on innocent homeowner in direct violation of the CJ, they will be forced to take action. This would further open up the possibility that mass actions against large foreclosure mills will be settled quickly, unless such firms want to risk being faced with the fate of the late David Stern firm. Not bad for a minimal investment, and a little legwork.

So in closing, and to reiterate, developing a large database of signatures by name, FC mill involved, and date(s) in critical to be able to demonstrate that what the AG's were supposed to insure happened, unfortunately, did not. The proof required is no different than it was for Lynn Szymoniak back in 2011, and just as basic and generally cheap to find….The only question is whether enough defrauded homeowners, their attorneys, or a class action firm cares to dig…

 

 

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