Mortgage Servicing Fraud
occurs post loan origination when mortgage servicers use false statements and book-keeping entries, fabricated assignments, forged signatures and utter counterfeit intangible Notes to take a homeowner's property and equity.
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'Big money' in foreclosures

As a record number of foreclosures battered Hamilton County homeowners and neighborhoods, six people – mostly politically connected friends of Sheriff Simon L. Leis Jr. – made record earnings from the foreclosure crisis last year.

Data Center: Foreclosure Sales
Special section: Foreclosure's Fallout

They’re the appraisers hired by the sheriff to determine the value of foreclosed properties before they’re sold at a courthouse auction. Last year, the six appraisers each made more than $165,000. Two earned more than $250,000.

Only three of them are licensed appraisers, but the law doesn’t require them to be. The lone qualification is that there be “an inquest of three disinterested freeholders” – that is, property owners – and residents of Hamilton County.

Most of the appraisers also have three other things in common:

-- They are 77 to 84 years old.

-- They are registered Republican voters.

-- They are consistent contributors to the Republican sheriff’s re-election campaigns – usually giving $1,000 each at the sheriff’s annual golf outing. Most years, they’re the sheriff’s biggest campaign contributors.

The exception is Daniel J. Berning, 47, of Springfield Township, a new appraiser who took over the job last year after his father, Glen, died in 2005. Although a registered Republican, he has not contributed to the Leis campaign.

Leis defends the appraisers’ work.

“Did you recognize the number of foreclosures we had last year?” Leis said. “That’s why they’re making big money.”

Foreclosures filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court hit 6,107 last year, according to projections by the Ohio Supreme Court. That’s a jump of 50 percent from four years ago. Payments to appraisers have increased at about the same rate.

But critics say the payments are excessive.

“That’s crazy,” said state Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat who’s running for Congress. He served on a task force that examined foreclosure laws in Ohio last year.

“I think the word ‘crony’ is often overused, but in this case it would be very appropriate,” he said. “And if this is going on in Hamilton County, imagine in the smaller counties – where it’s very much a casual relationship.”

Driehaus conceded that because taxpayer money is not involved – appraisers are paid out of court costs by the successful bidder at sheriff’s sale – the payments are “less egregious.”

Still, he said he’d like to see the law changed to allow any licensed appraiser to compete for the work.

Sgt. Rick Snow, the deputy who supervises the appraisers, would not discuss their work. In response to a public records request by The Enquirer, the sheriff’s office said it had no contracts, resumes or any other documents that would disclose the qualifications of the appraisers – or even their identities. Information about their payments came from the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, which pays the appraisers out of court costs.

By one appraiser’s account, the work load has grown so large that some days, appraisers are doing 50 drive-by appraisals a day.

Cletus McDaniel, who made $165,015 last year, said he spends about a third of the time physically inspecting houses in the field. The rest of the time is spent doing research at the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office and looking for comparable sales through the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, he said.

While in the field, three appraisers travel together in an unmarked sheriff’s car, with a deputy driving. “Some neighborhoods you get in, it’s pretty scary,” McDaniel said.
Together, they appraise 50 properties a day, he said. In an eight-hour day, that’s one every nine or 10 minutes – including travel time from property to property.

Tom Fiehler, a licensed Warren County appraiser who does not work for the sheriff, said there’s “no way possible” an appraiser can visit 50 properties in a day.
Still, Fiehler said appraisals of foreclosed properties are among the easiest assignments an appraiser can get – and one that most appraisers would love to get at a time when home sales are slow.

“That is such a gravy job,” he said. “If I could do one or two of those a day, my golf scores would improve considerably.”

McDaniel, a licensed appraiser, said each property gets a thorough appraisal.
“We go to every house. We get out of the car. If we can, we try to go in,” he said.
Because properties in foreclosure are still controlled by homeowners, the appraisers need permission to enter the property.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s complicated,” he said. Still, it’s lucrative enough that he retired from his business doing relocation appraisals in order to do foreclosure appraisals full time. A former Sycamore Township trustee, he’s now 78.

“I enjoy it. I don’t want to sit on the couch for the rest of my life.”

Other appraisers would not talk about their work.

“I’m not interested in talking to you. Thanks for calling,” said P. Lincoln Mitchell Jr., an appraiser who made $165,431 last year, before hanging up on a reporter.

The four other current appraisers did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Until Friday, appraisers were paid a percentage of whatever value they placed on a property – meaning the higher they appraised, the more they got paid.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judges changed that rule. Starting Feb. 1, appraisers get a flat $375 per parcel. Split three ways, that’s $125 per appraiser.
That change came at the recommendation of Magistrate Michael L. Bachman, who handles foreclosure cases. He said the court was trying to avoid any appearance that appraisers were artificially inflating the value of properties.

“We’re not saying it happened,” he said. “We just want to make sure everything looks good.”

The rate for Hamilton County appraisals far outpaces neighboring Ohio counties. Butler County pays $255 per parcel (or $85 per appraiser), Clermont County pays $150 per parcel (or $50 per appraiser) and Warren County pays $120 per parcel (or $40 per appraiser).

In Kentucky, two appraisers are paid an average of $150 each for a more comprehensive report, said Boone County Master Commissioner Larry B. Dillon.
Ohio law allows sheriffs to choose the appraisers, and Leis said he’s gotten no complaints about their work in more than 20 years as sheriff.

Leis, 73, of Green Township, is up for re-election to a four-year term this year, and is unopposed for the fourth consecutive election. The job paid $97,338 last year – less than half of what some of his appraisers made.

As of Jan. 1, his campaign had a balance of $167,381, according to reports filed with the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

It’s a sum he has built up with the help of his appraisers, who have contributed more than $20,000 over four years.

McDaniel contributed the most: $4,415 over four years. The typical contribution for an appraiser was $1,000 for each golf outing, with additional contributions for each “mulligan” – or retaken shot – a golfer takes. The annual event takes place in late spring at Deer Run Country Club in Miami Township.

Last year, there were 176 golfers, who each gave an average of $335.

McDaniel said he enjoys playing golf, and no one ever told him he was expected to contribute. The appraisers usually play in their own foursomes, he said.

The appraisers are usually the largest individual contributors all year, but last year was an exception. Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper, a Democrat, gave $2,000 from his campaign committee, and Pepper’s mother, Frances, gave $12,500. Pepper and Leis worked together on an unsuccessful effort to get voters to approve a half-cent sales tax for a new jail and safety improvements.

Leis would not comment on the contributions from his appraisers.

“I don’t want to address it,” he said. “It’s a matter of public record.”

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FYI:  It is impossible for 6 appraisers to do 50 appraisals a day.  The only way they can do this is have family members, friends and low-paid trainees do all the work.  Which, of course, is illegal.  Most senior appraisers do 500 or more appraisals per month, but just lend their signature to unlicensed appraisers for half the fee.

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Ann this article is onto something that could be very large in and of its self
I wonder: 1) how many complaints this sheriff's department were asked to investigate MSF?
2) did they ever do any investigations of MSF?
3) if they did either of the above? what was the outcome of any of their investigations?
The county Sheriff in Hamilton County could very well  find himself and others named in numerous lawsuits for "Failing to protect the civil rights" of thousands!
Ann, lets here more on this, Who else received compensation in any from at the County Level from Foreclosure Sales? 
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A Buckeye

My experience in reporting msf related complaints with law enforcement are as follows...

"Sorry, we do not have enough staff to investigate this type of complaint."


"We need to input the Ohio Revised Code into our computer at this time."


"This type of complaint is not our department.  Go over to the DA's office and see what they say."


"You're talking Civil Suit, get a lawyer, and sue them in court."

Here's the best one to date...

(I provided law enforcement with proof, stacks of documentation, forged documents, ID theft by a mortgage company)

"Ma'am, now why would you want to harm this woman, (loan officer) as she was just following her boss's orders"

"Do you want this woman to go to jail?"  "She probably has a family, just like you do."

White Collar Crime is very profitable.

The question is not, who is involved in msf, the question SHOULD be, Who's NOT involved in msf.

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I have heard everyone of them too,and more, their is still no "Law full" reason why such "Fraud"is not investigated. My suggestion is simple, if as a victim within Hamilton county or for that matter any other County where a victim attempts to report MSF, they later name them (the county) for a number of reasons.
The best way may very well be Civil Rights Actions,but numerous other legal reasons would and could apply for adding them as a Named Party to either the Defendant or if your Plaintiff. Failing to "Investigate" fraud, or criminal complaints, is causation for numerous causes actions against such Law Enforcement agencies, and their respective (corporations)
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Dear Ohio Sheriff,

If you are not part of the solution; then you are part of the problem.

What is it going to be?


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Just Curious





Why is it that in every search. I am faced with the above information?
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Gary wrote:

"The county Sheriff in Hamilton County could very well  find

himself and others named in numerous lawsuits for "Failing

to protect the civil rights" of thousands!"



Gary I fully understand your frustration. However the truth is that county
government and law enforcement are not equipped to intervene with

alleged violations of this nature. Nor do they have the specialized man

power even if they wished to intervene. In something as sophisticated

as mortgage servicing fraud it must first be determined if it is a case of

“sloppy bookwork” or a misunderstanding.. Next if a clear violation of law

does exist it must then be determined if the was intentional..


After that the next hurdle is determining if the alleged disobedience of the

law was civil or criminal. As we all know there are government agencies

both at state and federal levels who are far better equipped to unravel

these controversies.  I’m no friend of bureaucrats at any level but in this

case I can tell you that I personally would never ask to County Sheriff’s

office to investigate or enforce an alleged mortgage servicing fraud



They don’t have the horsepower much less the expertise.


County government is not intended to scrutinize who’s right or wrong in

complex matters of this nature. Part of our problem is we tend to expect

government to be there to unravel, arbitrate and adjudicate then ultimately

carry out the sentence at no cost to the taxpayer.  


On the other hand county government at the judiciary level is equipped to

render decisions and judgments as well as executions of judgments at

several different levels. This process costs money but if one is successful
reasonable legal fees are recoverable.


Unfortunately many in this forum do not have the money to take legal

action. Which brings us full circle back to the fact that there are more

competent venues at both the state and federal levels where a cost free

solution is “possible” (capable of happening).        Just barely.



Ed Cage  |  1804 Cross Bend, Plano Texas 75023  |  972-596-4363


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