Hat tip to Nye Lavalle….not just for this article….but for first reporting the abuses of foreclosure mills as far back as 2003. The truly staggering issues presented by these revelations are just why no one did anything about this. Even more mind blowing by far is the fact that none of the parties who are responsible for this have ever been held accountable. Not even today.
Not even today, an astonishing eight years after problems were first reported and a full year after the full blown crisis erupted and nothing, not a single thing has happened to these wrongdoers. Not the Florida Bar, not the Florida Attorney General, not the FBI or the feds. No one. Nothing.
The report itself is so mind blowing because it details so many abuses then admits that even today….nothing. No punishment, no immediate shutdowns or supervisory efforts. And what about the hundreds of thousands of homeowners who suffered under these abuses? And what about the hundreds of thousands who continue to suffer even today? Where is the justice for them? When they examine their experience with “our” court system will they believe they have been treated fairly? Will they believe the scales of justice are balanced fairly? Of course they won’t and with good reason. Just pile this report on to the stack (actually it’s more like a warehouse now) of other reports and evidence of the abuses Americans have suffered at the hands of the 1% and their minions who operate all across this country. And for those struggling to understand what the people in Occupy Wall Street (and Tampa and Miami and Chicago and Seattle) are protesting against, I will suggest to you that they are protesting because of the information that is printed in this report. One of the fundamental issues being protested is the fact that there is no accountability. As detailed in this report, the banks and their law firms have been permitted to abuse homeowners….and desecrate our legal system…with impunity for years. And nothing has been done about it. Even today.
From the Report:
In December of 2003, a Fannie Mae shareholder began alerting Fannie Mae to foreclosure abuse allegations, and in 2005 Fannie Mae hired an outside law firm to investigate a variety of allegations regarding purported foreclosure processing abuses. In May 2006, the law firm issued a report of investigation in which it found that:
[F]oreclosure attorneys in Florida are routinely filing false pleadings and affidavits…. The practice could be occurring elsewhere. It is axiomatic that the practice is improper and should be stopped. Fannie Mae has not authorized this unlawful conduct. Further, the report observed that Fannie Mae did not take steps to ensure the quality of its foreclosure attorneys’ conduct, the legal positions taken in the attorneys’ pleadings, or the manner in which the attorneys processed foreclosures on the Enterprise’s behalf.
Also From the Final Report:
For example, when Fannie Mae terminated the Stern Law Firm, it estimated it would incur approximately $5.5 million in total costs. The costs include $4.6 million in file transfer fees (this estimate represents $200 per transfer for approximately 23,000 loan files). Fannie Mae estimated all other associated costs at approximately $900,000.
There were indicators prior to August 2010 that could have led FHFA to identify the heightened risk posed by foreclosure processing within Fannie Mae’s RAN. These indicators included significant increases in foreclosures, which accompanied the deterioration of the housing market; consumer complaints alleging improper foreclosures; contemporaneous media reports about foreclosure abuses by Fannie Mae’s law firms; and public court filings in Florida and elsewhere highlighting such abuses. Although FHFA’s management has yet to publish the results of its special review of Fannie Mae’s RAN, the examiners’ preliminary findings confirm that at least one of these indicators – deteriorating industry conditions – should have provided adequate warning of the increased risk associated with default-related legal services.
FHFA has not developed formal policies to address poor performance by law firms that have relationships – either directly through contract or through its loan servicers – with both of the Enterprises. FHFA-OIG identified instances where Freddie Mac terminated for poor performance law firms that processed foreclosures on its behalf, but Fannie Mae continued to use the firms. FHFA did not specifically review such terminations and, therefore, lacks assurance that law firms with histories of performance deficiencies do not jeopardize the safety and soundness of the Enterprises.
Federal and state regulators and law enforcement officials subsequently initiated probes into whether banks and foreclosure law firms improperly seized homes using fraudulent or incomplete paperwork. For example, in August 2010, the Florida Attorney General announced that his office had launched investigations into allegations of unfair and deceptive foreclosure practices involving three Florida law firms. The three law firms were part of Fannie Mae’s RAN and included the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. (the Stern Law Firm).
And now the New York Times Article:
Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance giant, learned as early as 2003 of extensive foreclosure abuses among the law firms it had hired to remove troubled borrowers from their homes. But the company did little to correct the firms’ practices, according to a report issued Tuesday.
Only after news reports in mid-2010 began to describe the dubious practices, like the routine filing of false pleadings in bankruptcy courts, did Fannie Mae’s overseer start to scrutinize the conduct. The report was critical of that overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and was prepared by the agency’s inspector general.
In one notable lapse, even after the agency reported problems to Fannie Mae in late 2010 about some of the approved law firms, it did not request a response from the company, the report said.
“American homeowners have been struggling with the effects of the housing finance crisis for several years, and they shouldn’t have to worry whether they will be victims of foreclosure abuse,” said Steve Linick, inspector general of the finance agency. “Increased oversight by F.H.F.A. could help to prevent these abuses.” New York Times