One very common foreclosure mill dirty trick used to help conceal the fraud by the servicer and foreclosure mill is the purposeful redaction of the MERS Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) from the copy of the mortgage, deed of trust or other mortgage security instrument furnished to the court in a judicial foreclosure or U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceeding.The real purpose is to minimize the likelihood that the borrower or borrower's attorney will use the MIN to look up the borrower's mortgage information using the online MERS MIN Lookup tool.
These redactions are inherently fraudulent and deceitful, but are routinely explained away and justified as minor paperwork issues. In fact, despite the fact that the MIN actually appears on the original of the mortgage, deed of trust or other security instrument filed of record in the county land records, the foreclosure mills will tell the court that this redaction (which is almost always accomplished using white out rather than blacking out the number to make it more like that the alteration goes unnoticed) is somehow for the borrower's protection. That is, the foreclosure mill is defrauding and deciving the court "out of an abundance of caution" for the borrower's privacy. HOGWASH.
Of course, this is utter rubbish. Disclosure of the MIN does absolutely nothing to expose a borrower's personal information to the public and the MIN is already publicly know from its recording in the public land records, which are almost universally more readily publicly accessible than the public court records.
Moreover, if the redaction was anything other than dishonest, it would be accomplished by blacking out the MIN and expressly calling the attention of the Court and the borrower to its omission.
"MERS Servicer ID Lookup"
For this reason, the very first things that the borrower ought to do in ANY case in which the mortgagee is shown to be MERS is (a) inspection of the mortgage to ascertain whether the MIN has been redacted, (b) IF there has been a redaction, to obtain a certified copy of the real mortgage from the county records, (c) careful scrutiny of the pleadings to ascertain whether the plaintiff has certified to the court by allegation or sworn averment that the mortgage filed is a true and accurate copy of the original, and (d) lookup of the servicer and the mortgage investor (when available) using the MERS Servicer ID Lookup.
But the borrower should always AVOID taking the plaintiff immediately to school about what has been learned.
The foreclosure mill usually begins its fraud on the court with its very first pleading -- the complaint -- and will usually continue lying and fabricating new evidence until the first indication that the defendant/debtor/borrower has actually noticed and perceived the fraud.
Where the MIN has been redacted and the mortgage ottherwise altered and the plaintiff has NOT certified to the court that the copy of the mortgage is a true and exact copy of the original, the first step usually ought to be to make evidentiary objections that the copy pled hasn't been properly authenticated.
Let the plaintiff and/or creditor swear to the authenticity of the document before you begin to point out the alterations to the court. The omission of the MIN is a very small alteration and by itself is very unlikely to engender any great sympathy for teh borrower from the court. Only in conjuction with the other more serious fraud is it likely that this omission would be a means of obtaining a dismissal and/or sanctions.
Also, simply because the borrower KNOW that the mortgage has been altered, this is NOT a reason to rush and put a valid authenticated copy of the mortgage into evidence. Since the plaintiff very often fails to properly authenticate and introduce evidence into the record, it is generally BETTER practice to wait and see what evidentiary defects presist through the summary judgment hearing or trial. That is, if the plaintiff fails to put an admissible copy of the mortgage into evidence, this could defeat the plaintiff's case, so it is better to leave such a glaring problem for the court rather than to focus on the MIN redaction, which can always be brought to the court's attention later.
In fact, the redaction can be used to impeach the crediblility of the plaintiff's witness when the witness falsely swears that the altered copy of the mortgage is an exact copy of the original.
NOTE: I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.