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  Alert: Mortgage meeting draws hundreds 
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Mortgage meeting draws hundreds
Bankrupt firm leaves many out in cold

By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 03, 2007 1:48 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Nearly 600 people affected by the collapse of a local mortgage brokerage company attended a meeting Tuesday night at Highland Presbyterian Church, revealing the depth of the financial crisis.

Customers of Personal Financial Management Inc. learned in a letter dated Sept. 14 that they owe tens of thousands of dollars more on mortgages they believed were held by its subsidiary, Image Masters Inc.

The company, which acted as a mortgage processor, failed to forward up to two monthly payments for its customers, leaving victims up to 90 days behind to their lenders.

"We're losing our good credit rating, getting collection calls and now default notices," one customer said.

At the meeting, bankruptcy attorneys and representatives from the state Attorney General's Office told the group that it will take "a long time" to solve the mystery of Personal Financial Management Inc., which is alleged to have fleeced $40 million from 800 customers.

Bankruptcy attorney Barry A. Solodky said Lynn E. Feldman, the trustee assigned to the case by federal bankruptcy court, is sifting through a maze of records seized from the company's office in Berks County.

"They're trying to figure out what happened to the money. They're trying to access computer records," Solodky said. "It's going to take a lot of time."

Customers at the meeting claim Wesley A. Snyder, the company's president and founder, led them to believe his company was funding the refinancing of their homes, but that it secretly took out mortgages in their name and took the equity for itself.

Solodky said an emergency meeting in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Monday revealed that many more customer foreclosure notices have been mailed to Image Masters Inc.

Local elected officials at the meeting, including state Sen. Michael Brubaker and state Reps. Katie True, Scott Boyd, Mike Sturla, John Bear and Tom Creighton, urged victims to contact their offices for help.

However, they said any kind of government bailout for the victims stung by Snyder's collapse was unlikely.

True, of East Hempfield Township, said that even if it was possible, any funding coming from the state would take up to three years to allocate.

"There is not a pot of tax money available that we can distribute," she said.

William Slaughter of the state Attorney General's Office said his office is trying to determine whether laws have been broken, and he painted a bleak picture for customers seeking restitution. Many customers claim Snyder not only deceived them but filed mortgage papers they did not sign.

Slaughter said the AG's office is creating a database looking for similar trends where Snyder and his employees may have deceived customers. He urged them to file detailed complaints and said that information would determine if there is a criminal case.

"We need to know, what did he say, when did he say it and what context did he say it in," Slaughter said.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

Suit seeks to void 800 'Ponzi' mortgages
Mortgage crisis may spread
Mortgage firm failure could hit hard here
Mortgage firm goes bust

Posted: Oct 3, 2007 3:16am | comment (0) | discuss (0) | permalink   
Tags: *group:foreclosure*  
 

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Stephen

Thank you for posting that.  Posted on the Housing forum on Craigslist.

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Stephen

What do you mean by this>  Posted on the Housing forum on Craigslist.

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stephen

I copied it and pasted it onto the forum.

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oh ok .Smurf

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Mortgage holders put on hold
Judge gives OPFM until Nov. 2 to declare assets, identify creditors

By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 09, 2007 1:59 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Hundreds of residents facing up to $100,000 of additional mortgage debt due to the bankruptcy of Personal Financial Management Inc. will have to wait until next month to learn if the company has assets left to distribute.

Bankruptcy Judge Richard E. Fehling granted an extension until Nov. 2 for the company to disclose what assets it has remaining and identify its creditors.

Headquartered in Berks County, the company also did business as OPFM and Image Masters Inc., 1672 Manheim Pike.

Fehling also granted a request from Lynn E. Feldman, the trustee appointed by the court to manage the complex OPFM bankruptcy, to hire an outside legal firm from Philadelphia to assist her at a rate of up to $485 per hour.

Mitchell Sommers, a bankruptcy attorney from Ephrata, said it was no surprise the trustee would require the help of an outside attorney.

"When you see that $485 number, it jumps off the page, but it is not out of line with fees in Philadelphia," Sommers said. "Unfortunately, with the complexity of this case, it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed in paperwork."

William Slaughter of the state Attorney General's Office said authorities have obtained a "house full of documents" from the offices of the company's president, Wesley A. Snyder, in Berks County but that they still have not received OPFM's computer records.

Any attorney's fees would be paid ahead of Snyder's customers if any money is found in the bankruptcy proceedings.

"Obviously there is an assumption that there will be a pot of money recovered," Sommers said.

About 800 OPFM mortgage customers learned a month ago that the mortgages they signed did not exist. OPFM owner Wesley A. Snyder informed customers they were responsible for larger mortgages he had taken out in their name through his company.

Mountville resident Lisa Kalbach said Snyder's collapse added about $38,000 to the mortgage she signed with OPFM in December. She said it's unconscionable that the court would allow the trustee to spend $485 per hour for another attorney.

"That makes no sense. We should be getting that money. The good hardworking people keep getting screwed and screwed," Kalbach said. "We're stuck paying these higher mortgages, and someone is getting $485 that essentially is coming out of our pockets."

Snyder led customers to believe his company was funding the refinancing of their homes, but a lawsuit filed in Berks County this month claims that his company was getting the loans from other mortgage companies and taking the equity for itself.

Kalbach estimates she'll end up paying an additional $120,000 over the length of the mortgage because of her arrangement with Snyder's company.

Michelle Weaver, who organized a pair of informational meetings attended by about 800 OPFM customers, isn't surprised by the huge attorney's fees. She doesn't expect the mortgage customers to be reimbursed from Snyder's business assets.

"The $485 an hour fee doesn't matter. I've kind of given up hope on that pot of gold," Weaver said.

Weaver, of Manheim Township, wants the mortgage companies Snyder did business with to honor the OPFM mortgages the customers signed. The companies include Wells Fargo, GMAC, Countrywide, Citicorp, HSBC, Chase Home, Wachovia and Sovereign Bank.

"I've been pressuring elected officials from state Sen. Michael Brubaker, (Rep.) Katie True, Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Pitts' office to help us," Weaver said.

In other developments:

  • Additional government agencies are investigating OPFM, including the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Authorities are particularly interested in money OPFM took from customers in August and September that was never used to make mortgage payments.

  • A Berks County woman filed a fraud suit last week that claims Snyder and his wife convinced her to invest $61,000 that would be loaned to OPFM mortgage customers. The suit claims the money was never invested. OPFM cannot be sued, but Snyder and his wife can be because they have not filed for personal bankruptcy protection.

  • The fallout of the mortgage meltdown goes as far as Schuylkill County. A meeting is scheduled there Wednesday for OPFM victims.

  • Organizers have set up a third informational meeting for those affected by the OPFM bankruptcy at 7 p.m., Oct. 16, at Highland Presbyterian Church, 1801 Oregon Pike. Topics to be discussed include a special tax exemption for victims of fraud and how victims can write off previous mortgage interest payments.

  • A Web site has been established for OPFM customers at http://www.homeownersincrisis.com.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

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Judge assists mortgage victims
By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 11, 2007 12:44 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - A judge Wednesday provided a measure of relief for 800 homeowners whose monthly mortgage bills jumped as much as 50 percent when Personal Financial Management Inc. collapsed Sept. 14.

Berks County Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher issued a temporary injunction that allows the homeowners to pay the amount of the original mortgages they signed with the mortgage broker, not the inflated payments demanded by companies revealed recently as the actual mortgage holders.

When Personal Financial, which operated as OPFM and Image Masters in Berks and Lancaster counties, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last month, it informed customers the mortgages they signed with OPFM did not exist.

OPFM owner Wesley A. Snyder told customers they were responsible for significantly larger mortgages OPFM had brokered for them through any of its 25 mortgage lending partners.

Sprecher's order Wednesday is related to a class-action lawsuit filed Sept. 25 by Kutztown law firm O'Keefe & Sher that seeks to invalidate the mortgages taken out without the customers' approval, claiming the lending partners didn't follow standard banking procedures.

OPFM's lending partners, named as the defendants in the suit, include big-name financiers such as Wells Fargo, GMAC, Countrywide, Citicorp, HSBC, Chase Home, Wachovia and Sovereign Bank. Under bankruptcy protection laws, OPFM itself cannot be sued.

Many of the OPFM-Image Masters customers have received foreclosure notices from the defendant home loan companies.

"As far as we're concerned, those are illegal mortgages," said attorney Frank Farina, who co-filed the emergency motion Wednesday for special relief for OPFM customers, who are the plaintiffs in the suit.

"Why should they make any payments on mortgages that arguably they didn't even know they had, which very well could be a void mortgage because of bad acts by the lender?" he said.

Sprecher's four-page ruling also precludes those mortgage companies from continuing foreclosure proceedings or reporting negative data to collection agencies on customers who have continued to make timely payments according to their agreements with OPFM.

Sprecher ordered the plaintiffs to keep making their original mortgage payments — for the time being — to an escrow account set up at First National Bank of Leesport.

 Sprecher will determine whether to make the temporary injunction permanent after hearing arguments from the defendant mortgage companies at a Dec. 4 hearing at the Berks County Courthouse.

The suit, filed on behalf of Douglas A. and Andrea M. Jones of Fleetwood, Berks County, called OPFM businesses a "Ponzi Corporation" that included the defendant companies that bankrolled owner Snyder's alleged $40 million fleecing of 800 customers.

Farina said the urgent nature of the case — customers face losing their homes due to financial hardship — made it imperative for the judge to act quickly.

"When the issue is 'I have to now pay 30 to 50 percent more than what I was paying or face foreclosure,' all of the sudden time is of the essence," Farina said.

Michelle Weaver, a Manheim Township resident who stands to lose about $78,000 due to OPFM's collapse, said the court's ruling offers unexpected hope.

"I'm having a hard time believing this is actually happening," Weaver said. "For the first time since this started, I'm going to buy some groceries."

Weaver, who organized a pair of meetings for OPFM customers in Lancaster County that attracted about 800 people, said one customer said his mortgage went up by $188,000.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the state Attorney General's Office, are investigating Snyder's businesses.

O'Keefe & Sher will mail out letters today to Snyder's customers explaining the judge's ruling and informing them as to whom to make future mortgage payments, Farina said.

Read the entire mortgage-relief letter.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

Suit seeks to void 800 'Ponzi' mortgages
Mortgage holders put on hold
Mortgage crisis may spread
Mortgage firm failure could hit hard here
Mortgage firm goes bust
http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/210689
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Actual Complaint filed in Berks County Court

Of the 24 defendants identified there are a grand total of 3 that I don't recognize. This should prove to be an interesting case.

This case has a few twists in it that I haven't heard of yet. It's going to be interesting to watch for sure.


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Joe B
This is really interesting. It's hard to tell if the mortgage banks were complicit, or if this guy hosed both sides.

It's hard to believe that the banks now want to foreclose on the actual homeowners when all along, they believed the homeowners were actually this ponzi corporation.

Doesn't this kind of remind you of the servicers foreclosing without actually holding an original note?

They keep wanting to have things both ways don't they?

It will be curious to see how this plays out!

Joe B
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I know they want their cake and eat it too. I Also want to know what going to happen. At lease the judge stop the companies from continuing foreclosure proceedings or reporting negative data to collection agencies. They were taking the money all along now they say that know mortgage exist. I don't understand that.Smurf

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http://www.wgal.com/video/14358956/index.html

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More help for OPFM victims
By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 19, 2007 2:20 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - A central hub and help center to assist families facing possible foreclosure due to the collapse of mortgage broker OPFM Inc. will open at Lancaster Farm & Home Center.

Also, a rally is planned in Harrisburg next week to prod state officials into doing more to assist those families.

State Sen. Michael Brubaker helped arrange a group of attorneys, accountants, banking officials and other professionals who will donate their time to help the 800 families left deeper in debt by the bankruptcy of OPFM, which did business as Personal Financial Management Inc.

"It's a regional facility designed to provide professional counseling and advice to people that are in a very difficult time in their lives," Brubaker said.

Brubaker and other elected officials will provide details, including the help center's hours of operation, at a news conference this morning at the Lancaster Farm & Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road.

OPFM owner Wesley A. Snyder left customers facing additional mortgage costs of up to $180,000 when his five financial companies filed for bankruptcy liquidation Sept. 18.

Snyder told customers they were responsible for significantly larger mortgages OPFM had brokered for them through any of its 25 mortgage-lending partners.

Those people have until Nov. 14 to decide whether to join a class action lawsuit filed Sept. 25 by the Kutztown law firm O'Keefe & Sher. The suit seeks to invalidate the mortgages Snyder arranged without the customers' approval, claiming the lending partners didn't follow standard banking procedures.

"They've got some difficult decisions to make, and the clock is ticking," Brubaker said.

OPFM customers have been getting unsolicited offers of help from several financial agencies on tax, mortgage, bankruptcy and other issues.

Some people are having a difficult time determining "which of those requests for help they should contract with, if any," Brubaker said.

"The help center can help people involved in this case that have nowhere else to go make sure there is a confidential environment where they could go and talk to a trusted adviser," Brubaker said.

The Lancaster Bar Association has agreed to provide local lawyers to meet with homeowners for free at the Farm & Home Center.

Brubaker also has arranged to have officials from the state Attorney General's office and state Banking Department meet personally with the nearly 300 Lancaster County families stung by OPFM's bankruptcy.

Both state agencies have been in contact with OPFM customers regarding investigations into Snyder's business practices. There are at least three other federal investigations ongoing as well, Brubaker said.

Many elected officials seem content to take a wait-and-see approach concerning the plight of Snyder's victims, said Linda Bryan, who helped organize three meetings and a Web site for those affected by OPFM's collapse.

Bryan and several others victims are upset by what they call an apathetic response by Gov. Ed Rendell. Bryan will stage a rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg Wednesday.

"This mortgage crisis is affecting hundreds of children," Bryan said. "Rendell claims to care about children. Here's an opportunity to show at least he is aware children are suffering because of this crisis."

Charles Ardo, a spokesman for Rendell, said the governor is concerned and is monitoring the attorney general's investigation.

"Certainly they appear to be in dire straits, but we have to work through the system as it is established," Ardo said. "The attorney general has to work at the pace that his investigation allows him to work."

Bryan countered that mortgage victims don't have the luxury of time.

But Ardo was undeterred, saying, "They are mistaking what appears to be the slow pace of government action for inaction."

Also, Michelle Weaver has organized a fourth meeting for OPFM victims, scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, 510 Centerville Road.

Attorney Joseph O'Keefe will attend and answer questions relating to the class-action lawsuit he filed on behalf of customers he believes were defrauded.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

Mortgage holders vent frustrations
Judge assists mortgage victims
OPFM mortgage crisis hits home
Mortgage holders put on hold
Suit seeks to void 800 'Ponzi' mortgages

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/211118


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Feds say mortgage scandal was fraud
In filing, U.S. Attorney's office makes accusation for first time

By TIM MEKEEL, Staff writer
Lancaster New Era

Published: Oct 20, 2007 11:45 AM EST

HARRISBURG - A federal prosecutor finally said Friday what customers of Wesley A. Snyder having been saying for weeks:

Snyder committed fraud.

In a six-page filing in Harrisburg federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel publicly accused the Berks County mortgage broker for the first time, persuading a federal judge to freeze his assets.

Snyder, the prosecutor said, is orchestrating "an ongoing mail-fraud scheme that has defrauded hundreds of victims out of millions of dollars and adversely affected numerous financial institutions..."

Snyder, 71, of Oley, has not been formally charged. Reached at his home Friday, he declined comment and referred questions to his attorney, who could not be immediately reached.

U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane issued the temporary restraining order at 4:45 p.m. Friday, finding that the prosecutor had shown probable cause to believe Snyder was commiting fraud and selling assets, reducing hopes that his victims might someday be compensated.

"The victims of (Snyder's) scheme to defraud would suffer irreparable harm if (Snyder) were able to sell, liquidate, dispose or otherwise encumber additional property and assets before this Court could implement a restitution order," ruled Kane.

Kane said her order will expire Nov. 2. A hearing to replace it with a preliminary injunction is set for Oct. 30.

The scandal came to light last month when Snyder's six companies, including Personal Financial Management and Image Masters, filed for bankruptcy.

About 800 of Snyder's customers, including 300 in Lancaster County, then were shocked to discover that the mortgages they'd gotten through him had been secretly replaced with far costlier loans.

Some customers also learned that their payments had not been credited to their mortgages.

Others said that investments made through Snyder, as part of a plan to refinance mortgages at lower rates, had proven bogus.

"Essentially, Wesley Snyder created and operated a Ponzi scheme whereby he fraudulently induced unwitting individuals to mortgage their homes and turn over mortgage proceeds in exchange for promises of reduced mortgage interest rates and participation in non-existent investments.

"In the process, Wesley Snyder fraudulently converted millions of dollars to his own use and jeopardized the financial integrity of numerous financial institutions," said Daniel.

The prosecutor's action was based on a U.S. Postal Service investigation, which included interviews with several of Snyder's former employees and a search of Snyder's home on Oct. 12.

The probe concluded that "Snyder is believed to be currently engaged in an effort to sell, encumber and dispose of many of his and his wife's assets."

An account of the investigation, filed by U.S. Postal Inspector James Wilson, was sealed by the judge at the prosecutor's request to protect investigators, witnesses and "the integrity of this ongoing case."

Kane's temporary restraining order bars Snyder and "all other entities having possession or control of (his) property and assets" from selling, transferring or concealing any of them,  and from destroying, altering or concealing any of his records.

In another development in the Personal Financial Management case, customers will hold a fourth public meeting to discuss their situations on Monday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, 510 Centerville Road.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/211201

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Babs

Source: http://www.startribune.com/146/story/1496103.html 

 

Seems like some response is coming across from the general public

 

 

Mortgage fraud victims deserve our help

Government does its part to prosecute unscrupulous brokers and predatory lenders. But there are ways the community can aid those hurt by this unnatural disaster.

Last update: October 21, 2007 – 3:54 PM

The stories of mortgage fraud victims can bring tears to your eyes.

There is the man with six children who lost his family's home on his wedding day after being snared in a "foreclosure rescue" scam.

There is the hard-working single mom with five children who trusted an unscrupulous broker who then milked all the equity from her home and piled her with additional debt.

These are not isolated cases. Predatory lenders have ravaged entire neighborhoods. We hear these stories and wonder how they could have happened. When we look back on the year 2007, it will no doubt be remembered for the devastating housing crisis that cost many thousands of Minnesotans their homes. If this calamity were caused by a natural disaster, many individuals and organizations would be rushing to aid the victims. We all would be asking: What can I do to help?

The victims of mortgage fraud deserve no less of our compassion and assistance. Although minority and low-income communities have certainly suffered the greatest hardship, the victims of mortgage fraud are not defined or limited by race, class or geographic location. Look around you: The victims are your neighbors, your co-workers and your fellow Minnesotans.

Here's how you can make a difference.

Federal, state, and county government agencies commendably have responded to mortgage fraud through increased law enforcement efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict mortgage fraud offenders.

But the response must go beyond law enforcement. The community must be a part of the solution, both in fraud prevention and in support for the victims.

Ongoing efforts in Minnesota are aimed at addressing the many layers of the housing crisis in which mortgage fraud has played a significant role. Here are some of them.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) (www. minnesota.acorn.org), a national nonprofit working for social justice and stronger communities, has a strong Minnesota chapter. ACORN Housing provides one-on-one mortgage loan counseling and first-time home-buyer classes. In 2007, ACORN was instrumental in advocating passage in Minnesota of the strongest anti-predatory-lending law in the nation. Call the group at 651-642-9639 to receive or give help.

The Foreclosure Relief Law Project (FRLP) (http://www.hppinc.org/FRLP) is part of the nonprofit Housing Preservation Project. Its goal is to avert foreclosures, ameliorate the effects of foreclosures, and hold accountable those who played a role in creating the foreclosure crisis through systemic, impact litigation. FRLP also trains other lawyers to represent individual homeowners in foreclosure. Call 651-642-0102 for details.

The Equity Stripping Task Force (www.volunteerlawyers network.org/volunteer/full/realestate) is a coalition of legal service providers, attorneys and community partners working to assist victims of predatory lending. This group works with families who have been victims of unfair lending practices that seek to strip them of their homes. Task Force members have provided legal representation for dozens of victimized homeowners. More attorneys, however, are needed to volunteer by calling 612-752-6649.

Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, including the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis (http://www.midmnlegal.org), provides various legal services to low-income and elderly persons in Minneapolis and 20 counties in central Minnesota and has been a refuge for many victims of mortgage fraud. These services include legal representation in court and counseling for victims of predatory lending and foreclosure scams.

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (http://www.smrls.org) provides free legal representation and advice to low-income people in St. Paul and 33 counties in southern Minnesota. Its Housing Equity Law Project provides fair housing enforcement services, including negotiating settlements and representing people in court and administrative proceedings.

The Lawyers' Council on Social Justice, a national nonprofit organization, has a student-directed chapter at the University of St. Thomas law school. Law students are available to educate citizens, particularly those living in north Minneapolis, about predatory-lending dangers and sources of assistance.

On Nov. 8 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., the University of St. Thomas School of Law in downtown Minneapolis will host a free public forum to discuss the impact of mortgage fraud and what citizens can do to become part of the solution. Several victims will share their stories and representatives from the above-mentioned organizations will be on hand.

Whether you can assist in saving someone's home from foreclosure or just are able to devote a few hours, come find out how you can help. Now is the time to step forward and lend your assistance to those in need.

Henry (Hank) J. Shea is a fellow at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and the Thomas E. Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. His e-mail is hjshea@stthomas.edu.

Pamela J. Abbate is a second-year student at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Details about the Nov. 8 forum are available at http://www.stthomas.edu/ethicalleadership

 

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It real sad what happing into day world I wonder what it going to become with so may people in forclosure or losing their home to Servicing Fraud,fraud and predatory lending.Babs I read that story and it sad.Smurf

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CraiCraigslistgslist

CraiCraigslistgslist 4 Stephen

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Here is where I post all my victim at this site

http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/Foreclosure
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Mortgage broker raided
Postal inspectors seize items from home of Wesley Snyder

By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 23, 2007 2:28 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - The U.S. Postal Inspection Service confirmed Monday that it has raided the home of Wesley A. Snyder, the president of a bankrupt mortgage-brokerage business that has saddled 800 homeowners with tens of thousands of dollars of additional, unexpected mortgage debt.

Oriey Glenn, the acting inspector in charge of the Philadelphia Postal Inspection Service, said items were taken during an Oct. 12 raid involving Snyder's companies Personal Financial Management Inc. and Image Masters, which operated offices in Lancaster and Berks counties.

"There were items taken, but I cannot talk about what they are because this is an ongoing investigation," Glenn said Monday.

Glenn said a sealed warrant was obtained by the U.S. Attorney's Middle District Office to seize items from Snyder's home in Oley, Berks County. The action came as a result of complaints by Snyder's customers accusing him of mail fraud.

No fewer than five agencies — the postal inspectors, the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, the state Department of Banking, the state attorney general's office and the U.S. Attorney's office — are investigating Snyder's businesses.

Snyder, who has not been charged, is president of six companies that filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in Philadelphia federal bankruptcy court: OPFM Inc., doing business as Personal Financial Management Inc.; Image Masters Inc.; Discovered Treasures Inc.; Dividit Inc.; and Mortgage Assistance Professionals Inc. I and II.

A federal judge last week froze Snyder's assets. U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane issued the order late Friday afternoon against his assets and bank accounts.

Prosecutors suspect Snyder of defrauding 800 customers, including nearly 300 from Lancaster County, out of millions of dollars.

Snyder's mortgage customers learned last month that the mortgages they had signed with his companies did not exist. Snyder informed his customers that as a result of his companies' collapse they were responsible for larger mortgages he had taken out in their names.

Glenn would not confirm whether the items taken from Snyder's home in the raid helped government lawyers make the argument that Snyder was running a mail-fraud scheme that affected his customers and "numerous" financial institutions.

According to court records, officials believe Snyder is attempting to sell or otherwise encumber his property and assets while U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee Lynn E. Feldman and the Pennsylvania Banking Department try to sort through thousands of documents produced by Snyder's businesses during their more-than 20 years in operation.

Snyder's business dealings are the subject of legal action in at least three courts.

  • Snyder's Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in federal court.

  • A class-action lawsuit filed in Berks County court on behalf of up to 800 of Snyder's customers naming 25 mortgage companies as defendants.

  • A lawsuit filed by a Montgomery County woman claims Snyder and his wife kept nearly $61,000 she had given the couple to invest.

•••

State Sen. Michael Brubaker, who helped arrange for lawyers, accountants and other professionals to meet with mortgage victims at Farm and Home Center, said Tabor Community Services will make six counselors available Wednesday and on Oct. 31 for those affected by Snyder's business collapse. To make an appointment at Tabor, call 397-5182, ext. 144.

Brubaker is exploring whether the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency can help those victims struggling to make monthly mortgage payments, which in many cases have gone up by 50 percent since Snyder's business collapsed.

Currently, PHFA can assist only those who already are in foreclosure proceedings. It would take legislation from the General Assembly to grant exemptions to allow those victims to receive PHFA funds before they are foreclosed on.

Thousands of Pennsylvania families faced with the possible loss of their homes through foreclosure have received help from the Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. Created by Act 91 of 1983, it is the only one of its kind in the nation, according to PHFA's Web site.

The program is designed to protect those who, through no fault of their own, are financially unable to make their mortgage payments and are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

HEMAP funds used to prevent foreclosure are not a grant. The funds are a loan and must be repaid by the homeowner.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

Mortgage holders vent frustrations
More help for OPFM victims
Mortgage holders put on hold
Mortgage firm goes bust
Mortgage firm failure could hit hard here

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/211284

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Federal judge takes OPFM suit
Revises deal for homeowners who allege mortgage broker fraud

By PATRICK BURNS, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Oct 25, 2007 2:17 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Some homeowners who owe much more than they thought they did due to alleged mortgage broker fraud by OPFM Inc. lost one form of temporary relief Wednesday but gained another.

A federal judge in Philadelphia Wednesday took charge of the case and tossed a temporary injunction that had shielded about 800 customers from mortgage debts discovered when OPFM filed for bankruptcy Sept. 18.

Instead, a new agreement allows mortgage customers to pay 75 percent of the higher mortgage payments, or the original payment, whichever is higher, and mortgage companies promised not to foreclose if the payments are made.

U.S. District Judge James T. Giles made the decision after taking jurisdiction of a class-action lawsuit filed Sept. 25 in Berks County court.

The suit seeks to void mortgages of 25 lenders named in the suit. The mortgages were brokered by Personal Financial, allegedly without the knowledge of the customers, who thought they were signing on for lower mortgages.

Giles vacated the order by Berks County Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher that created an escrow account into which homeowners paid the original mortgage payments they contracted for with OPFM Inc., which operated as Personal Financial Management and Image Masters Inc.

The escrow accounts were set up following an emergency motion co-filed by attorney Frank Farina. Farina and Kutztown law firm O'Keefe & Sher filed suit Sept. 25 against the mortgage lenders, claiming they didn't follow standard banking procedures when they did business with OPFM.

Defendants in the suit include big-name financiers such as Wells Fargo, GMAC, Countrywide, Citicorp, HSBC, Chase Home, Wachovia and Sovereign Bank.

Attorneys for those companies last week petitioned to move the case to federal court.

Giles requested Wednesday that defendant and plaintiff lawyers work on a compromise to the escrow account until he schedules the next hearing for the case in early December.

They did, writing an agreement that allows mortgage customers to pay 75 percent of the higher mortgages. The mortgage companies also agreed not to foreclose or file negative data with collection companies on customers who make their mortgage payments.

Giles agreed to a request from the mortgage companies Monday to move the case to federal court. They argued it should be moved because customers named in the lawsuit are spread out in at least six Pennsylvania counties and in other states.

About 300 Lancaster County homeowners saw their monthly mortgage bills jump as much as 50 percent when OPFM collapsed.

Some were upset at how easily the case was moved out of the area where OPFM president Wesley A. Snyder operated his businesses.

Five agencies — the postal inspectors, the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, the state Department of Banking, the state attorney general's office and the U.S. Attorney's office — are investigating Snyder's businesses.

A federal judge last week froze Snyder's assets. U.S. District Judge and prosecutors suspect Snyder of defrauding 800 customers, including nearly 300 from Lancaster County, out of millions of dollars.

Mortgage borrowers claim Snyder and his employees compelled them to borrow thousands more than they needed. The homeowners would essentially kick back the extra money to Snyder's OPFM businesses in exchange for a lower interest rate.

OPFM employees told clients the company would repay the extra amount, and they were responsible only for the lower amount they had originally intended to borrow.

Despite only hours notice, about 100 OPFM customers traveled to Philadelphia Wednesday to be in court.

But one woman, who asked not to be identified, said 10 times as many would have been there had OPFM customers been given advance notice.

"Just seems very convenient for the mortgage companies that there was probably a much smaller audience," she said.

The judge Wednesday asked the plaintiff's attorneys to "streamline" the lawsuit, and Giles plans to schedule a status hearing before Thanksgiving where attorneys are expected to file an amended class action lawsuit.

Giles rejected a motion by Sovereign bank to be dismissed as a defendant. Sovereign claimed it has only three loans involved in the suit and they were made by another lender more than 12 years ago.

Instead, the judge requested that Farina and other plaintiff attorneys clarify the link between each lender and mortgage holder.

"The judge made it clear that he wants (us) to associate better the individual class members with each particular lender," Farina said.

E-mail: pburns@lnpnews.com

Mortgage holders vent frustrations
Judge assists mortgage victims
OPFM mortgage crisis hits home
Mortgage holders put on hold
Suit seeks to void 800 'Ponzi' mortgages
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ley borrowers caught in Berks firms' bankruptcy

Collapse left some with mortgage payments 70 percent higher.

 

  • As a credit underwriter shopping for a broker to refinance her own mortgage, Mary Hamlen knew to ask pointed questions and interview other customers of the mortgage company she eventually picked. But just like more than 800 other unsuspecting borrowers, the Upper Macungie Township woman was swept into a financial maelstrom created by the abrupt bankruptcy last month of Personal Financial Management Inc.

    Why those homeowners -- including more than 50 families in the Lehigh Valley -- got caught up in the Berks County company's collapse is now the question being asked by five state and federal agencies.

    ''What frustrates me is somebody else should have known,'' said Hamlen, wondering what more she could have done to scrutinize the lending practices of a company with a track record of more than 20 years and run by Wesley Snyder, a respected member of the community in and around Oley.

The devastation in the wake of the collapse of the company and five affiliated businesses is being documented all across eastern Pennsylvania. The majority of the borrowers are from Berks and Lancaster counties, but dozens also live in Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

Borrowers are asking more questions in a class action lawsuit, one of three separate court actions related to the bankruptcies.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim they were told by Snyder's companies if they borrowed more than they needed for their mortgages, the excess money would be invested and the profits used to secure lower interest rates.

The borrowers say that all they are left with now are monthly payments that in some cases have increased by 70 percent .

Hamlen herself is facing a 73-percent-higher mortgage payment, the weight of which is crushing her financial nest egg. ''I'll never own my own home,'' she lamented.

Personal Financial Management's Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing on Sept. 18 is the first step in the liquidation of the business.

Reached by telephone at his home, Snyder said his lawyer advised him not to speak publicly about the situation. Snyder is president of the six businesses that filed for bankruptcy. State records listed him as the companies' only officer when they were incorporated.

Snyder's Wyomissing attorney, Dexter Case, who is handling the bankruptcy filings, did not respond to messages requesting comment.

Officials from the state attorney general's office, Pennsylvania Banking Department and Pennsylvania Securities Commission are investigating. A U.S. Postal Service inspector and the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg also searched Personal Financial Management's offices Oct. 12.

As a result of the search, U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane in Harrisburg signed a restraining order Oct. 19 freezing Snyder's and the businesses' assets, saying that federal agents found probable cause to believe Snyder ''defrauded hundreds of individual victims out of millions of dollars.''

Investigators haven't determined what happened to the borrowers' money.

''There's a lot of financial records to be dug through,'' said Michael J. Byrne, chief counsel to the Securities Commission. ''The paper trail is going to be a mile wide. We will know what happened.''

That, he acknowledged, may be little consolation to borrowers who in some cases said they thought they had paid off their mortgages, only to find that they are stuck with additional payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

''The problem with a case like this is it's all done one-on-one,'' Byrne said. ''The individual doesn't suspect anything is wrong until it collapses.''

The lawsuit and the restraining order contend that Snyder's financial businesses failed because they were based on a Ponzi scheme, an illegal plan that pays high interest rates using money from subsequent investors. Such plans collapse when the flow of new investors fails to keep up with the payment demands of the existing investors.

Kutztown attorney Joseph O'Keefe filed the lawsuit on behalf of Douglas and Andrea Jones of Fleetwood, who arranged mortgages on their home and a cabin property with Snyder's businesses.

According to the lawsuit, the Joneses ''only recently learned their properties were subjected to mortgages and notes with far higher monthly payments and principal balances than they consented to.''

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Governor Rendell Announces Measures to Help Homeowners Stay Put 

69News
As the foreclosure crisis hits home for more Pennsylvanians, the state is stepping in to provide relief. Governor Ed Rendell is announcing two new measures aimed at helping homeowners stay just where they belong. WFMZ's Joscelyn Moes has the story.  Gov. Rendell This crisis is very real across the nation and very real in PA. 
Governor Ed Rendell is talking about a mortgage crisis. He says thousands of homeowners across the state are facing foreclosure because they can't make payments on their adjustable-rate mortgages ... or because they're victims of predatory lending. Today the Governor announced two new resources to help. 
Gov. Rendell The first program is called REAL ... Refinance to an Affordable Loan. The second program is called HERO ... Homeowner Equity Recovery Opportunity. 
The two programs are basically structured the same. REAL provides relief for homeowners with good credit who can't otherwise qualify for typical refinance programs. 
Gov. Rendell PHFA is offering to these folks a 30 year fixed rate mortgage ranging from 
Reporter The HERO loan is for homeowners who do not qualify for conventional funding. 
Gov. Rendell The interest rate on the HERO loan will be 7.95 for a 30 year fixed loan.
A network of 72 lending institutions will handle REAL program loans. Start-up funding for the HERO program is being provided by PNC Bank, the City of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Credit counseling and financial management education are also part of the programs. Joscelyn Moes ... 69 News.
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Bear 

Cracking down on mortgage scammers
Local rep proposes stiffer penalties.

By TIM MEKEEL, Staff
Lancaster New Era

Published: Oct 31, 2007 12:20 PM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - State Rep. John Bear has seen it once.

He doesn't want to see it again.

After watching a mortgage scandal devastate more than 50 families in his district, Bear wants to prevent a recurrence.

Bear will propose amending state law so it's clearly illegal for a mortgage lender or broker to increase the amount of money a person is borrowing without obtaining his or her written consent.

That's the fallout from the Personal Financial Management scam — borrowers were secretly given much bigger mortgages with much greater payments.

"We believe it is illegal (under current law), but it's not explicitly stated. So we're trying to strengthen and clarify the law," said Bear today.

To further ensure that the borrower has full knowledge that additional credit is being given, that extra amount would have to be secured by a lien on the borrower's principal residence.

Bear's proposal also would drastically stiffen penalties for those who violate the section of the law being amended.

The existing civil penalty of $2,000 per offense would be raised to $10,000 per offense.

In addition, Bear's proposal calls for violators to pay triple damages to each victim. Violators also would lose their state mortgage banking licenses.

Bear intends to introduce his amendment to the state Mortgage Bankers and Brokers Act within two weeks. He believes his legislation is the first legislative response to the scandal.

The Lititz Republican hopes to have all 53 state representatives who have any of the 800 Personal Financial Management scandal victims living in their district join him as co-sponsors.

Bear said he has 52 families affected by the scam in his 97th District, which includes Manheim and Warwick townships, and Lititz and East Petersburg boroughs.

"It's horrible, absolutely horrible, when you have that kind of extra monthly payment slapped onto you," he said. "They thought they knew what their payment was and now they have to absorb this increase."

Personal Financial Management, based in Berks County, abruptly folded in September, triggering a flurry of government investigations and legal action.

About 300 of the scandal's victims live in Lancaster County. Federal prosecutors have accused the company's owner, Wesley Snyder of Oley, Berks County, of fraud.

Bear acknowledged that his proposal was not a "cure-all." But he felt it was a "no-brainer first step" to take immediate action to strengthen the law.

"It doesn't help those who've been impacted already but hopefully it will prevent this from happening again," he said.

CONTACT US: tmekeel@LNPnews.com or 481-6030

Mortgage meeting draws hundreds
Mortgage broker raided
More help for OPFM victims
Mortgage holders vent frustrations
Mortgage firm failure could hit hard here

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/211695


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Published: January 8, 2008

The Countrywide Financial Corporation fabricated documents related to the bankruptcy case of a Pennsylvania homeowner, court records show, raising new questions about the business practices of the giant mortgage lender at the center of the subprime mess.

The documents — three letters from Countrywide addressed to the homeowner — claimed that the borrower owed the company $4,700 because of discrepancies in escrow deductions. Countrywide’s local counsel described the letters to the court as “recreated,” raising concern from the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case, Thomas P. Agresti.

“These letters are a smoking gun that something is not right in Denmark,” Judge Agresti said in a Dec. 20 hearing in Pittsburgh.

The emergence of the fabricated documents comes as Countrywide confronts a rising tide of complaints from borrowers who claim that the company pushed them into risky loans. The matter in Pittsburgh is one of 300 bankruptcy cases in which Countrywide’s practices have come under scrutiny in western Pennsylvania.

Judge Agresti said that discovery should proceed so that those involved in the case, including the Chapter 13 trustee for the western district of Pennsylvania and the United States trustee, could determine how Countrywide’s systems might generate such documents.

A spokesman for the lender, Rick Simon, said: “It is not Countrywide’s policy to create or ‘fabricate’ any documents as evidence that they were sent if they had not been. We believe it will be shown in further discovery that the Countrywide bankruptcy technician who generated the documents at issue did so as an efficient way to convey the dates the escrow analyses were done and the calculations of the payments as a result of the analyses.”

The documents were generated in a case involving Sharon Diane Hill, a homeowner in Monroeville, Pa. Ms. Hill filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in March 2001 to try to save her home from foreclosure.

After meeting her mortgage obligations under the 60-month bankruptcy plan, Ms. Hill’s case was discharged and officially closed on March 9, 2007. Countrywide, the servicer on her loan, did not object to the discharge; court records from that date show she was current on her mortgage.

But one month later, Ms. Hill received a notice of intention to foreclose from Countrywide, stating that she was in default and owed the company $4,166.

Court records show that the amount claimed by Countrywide was from the period during which Ms. Hill was making regular payments under the auspices of the bankruptcy court. They included “monthly charges” totaling $3,840 from November 2006 to April 2007, late charges of $128 and other charges of almost $200.

A lawyer representing Ms. Hill in her bankruptcy case, Kenneth Steidl, of Steidl and Steinberg in Pittsburgh, wrote Countrywide a few weeks later stating that Ms. Hill had been deemed current on her mortgage during the period in question. But in May, Countrywide sent Ms. Hill another notice stating that her loan was delinquent and demanding that she pay $4,715.58. Neither Mr. Steidl nor Julia Steidl, who has also represented Ms. Hill, returned phone calls seeking comment.

Justifying Ms. Hill’s arrears, Countrywide sent her lawyer copies of three letters on company letterhead addressed to the homeowner, as well as to Mr. Steidl and Ronda J. Winnecour, the Chapter 13 trustee for the western district of Pennsylvania.

The Countrywide letters were dated September 2003, October 2004 and March 2007 and showed changes in escrow requirements on Ms. Hill’s loan. “This letter is to advise you that the escrow requirement has changed per the escrow analysis completed today,” each letter began.

But Mr. Steidl told the court he had never received the letters. Furthermore, he noticed that his address on the first Countrywide letter was not the location of his office at the time, but an address he moved to later. Neither did the Chapter 13 trustee’s office have any record of receiving the letters, court records show.

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Associated Press
Countrywide Agrees to Provide Documents
By DANIEL LOVERING 02.15.08, 10:42 AM ET




PITTSBURGH -

Countrywide Financial Corp., facing allegations that it fabricated letters to a Pennsylvania homeowner who filed for bankruptcy, agreed Thursday to provide documents related to her loan.

At a federal bankruptcy court hearing in Pittsburgh, the California-based mortgage lender withdrew a request to limit information sought by Sharon Diane Hill and trustees looking into the case and nearly 300 others in western Pennsylvania.

The lending practices of Countrywide and other mortgage companies have come under scrutiny amid a surge in home loan defaults among borrowers with poor credit histories.

Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage lender and home loan servicer, has sought to address the growing number of defaults on its books by modifying loan terms, working out long-term repayment plans and other actions.

Hill acted against the company last year after being notified that she had defaulted on her loan and faced foreclosure, even though she had brought her payments up to date under a court-approved Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.

In its recent motion, Countrywide alleged that Hill and the trustees were using a court order "to serve broad-ranging, irrelevant discovery regarding a variety of matters, including ... Countrywide's policies and procedures concerning its bankruptcy servicing."

But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas P. Agresti said Countrywide had unduly tried to focus the case on matters that arose at a Dec. 20 hearing, including an admission by a Countrywide attorney that the company had "recreated" letters to Hill.

The three letters - with dates in 2003, 2004 and 2007 - alleged that Hill owed Countrywide more money because of escrow requirements. The company's attorney said at the time that the letters had not been sent and were merely meant to show changes to Hill's mortgage payments during her bankruptcy.

Countrywide offered a settlement, but the borrower refused, according to court documents.

In a statement last month, Countrywide said it was not the company's policy "to create or 'fabricate' any documents as evidence that they were sent if they had not been."

A bankruptcy technician at Countrywide created the documents using a letter template provided to her during training a few months previously in an effort "to present that data in a fairly simple format," the company said in its recent motion.

Agresti said Thursday that the company's "fears that this is going to delve into every aspect of Countrywide's operations" were unfounded. "That's not going to happen," the judge said via video transmission from Erie.

But it remains the court's duty to the system "to find out what happened here," he added.

Lawyers for Countrywide met with attorneys for Hill and the Chapter 13 and U.S. bankruptcy trustees during a court recess Thursday.

A Countrywide attorney, Thomas A. Connop, said later that the company was withdrawing its motion to narrow the scope of information sought by Hill and the trustees, and asked for 30 days to produce the documents.

He said the two sides discussed a confidentiality agreement that would cover some of the documents, such as those detailing the acquisition of a loan. A consent order outlining the agreement must be approved by the judge.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/02/15/ap4661241.html?partner=alerts

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Open It Up
Quote:
Agresti said Thursday that the company's "fears that this is going to delve into every aspect of Countrywide's operatio

OPEN UP THE ENTIRE PORTFOLIO.

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS!!!!




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noodles

Smurf wrote:

A bankruptcy technician at Countrywide created the documents using a letter template provided to her during training a few months previously in an effort "to present that data in a fairly simple format," the company said in its recent motion.



Man, I hope the courts will not let this one pass them by.
They need to do a fingerprint analysis of that document, and then compare the prints with the employees Tax records to confirm if the empolyee had just started work at Country Wide.

We all know Country Wide can fabricate evidence so the courts cannot ask for proof of employment history on the employee C.W. claims did it!

Really Really hope they do the research on this! They just might find Country Wide has lied again.

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So exactly what is the job description of a "bankruptcy technician"?

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anon2

Silly its a technician that fabricates documents relating to bankruptcy

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