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TheDC OP-ED: One nation, under fraud

On September 23, the bank “foreclosed” on a Ft. Lauderdale house owned by Jason Grodensky. Phone calls and emails elicited no answers, and the problem was only resolved after Grodensky took the story to the media and received national attention. There should have been no way for Bank of America to take control of the property. Instead, Grodensky discovered that the title to that property had already been sold. The bank recovered the title at its own cost.

Other banks are keeping up. This week, Florida television station WFTV reported Nancy Jacobini’s story. JP Morgan’s lawyers had sent a contractor to change the locks on Jacobini’s doors in order to take control of the house. She actually happened to be sitting on a couch inside that house at the time, which means that she could have simply opened the door for the contractor in response to a simple knock—and it also means, according to Jacobini’s lawyer, that changing the locks was illegal, because the building was still legally occupied. Instead of a knock, Jacobini heard someone breaking through her front door, grabbed her phone, and hid in her bathroom, where she proceeded to call 911 to report what the law defines as breaking and entering. And here’s the kicker—not only was Jacobini occupying the house, but JP Morgan hadn’t even foreclosed. At every step along the way, the rule of law simply didn’t exist.

The implications of this foreclosure nightmare are enormous. In the rare cases like the Cordosos’, when the correct owner of a mortgage is the same bank which thinks it’s the correct owner, little is ultimately changed in terms of bank assets unless there’s a large disparity between the value of the properties. But a much more common occurrence is what recently forced Ally, formerly known as GMAC, to knock over the first domino by halting nearly all of its foreclosure activities, and what prompted the state of California to file a class-action lawsuit against foreclosing banks.

A man named Jeffrey Stephans testified on September 14th that he had signed off on affidavits which he didn’t actually examine. Those affidavits were used in thousands of Ally foreclosures, and the properties involved were subsequently bought and sold. The previous homeowners can now sue the banks that foreclosed, and the “they were underwater anyway” argument isn’t holding up in many states, where both civil and criminal penalties are being discussed. By admitting his actions, Stephans instantly invalidated all of the repossessions and sales that were based on those actions. And Stephans said his practices are common in the industry. They’re so common, in fact, that a term was developed to describe them: “robo-signing.” This is being performed at law firms that process thousands of documents a day, which have become known as “foreclosure mills.”

Tammie Lou Kapusta, a former paralegal for one of those mills, testified on September 22nd that she was instructed by the attorneys at the firm to officially notarize hundreds of documents a day with a notary stamp that she wasn’t legally allowed to use. When complaints started rolling in about stamp dates that didn’t match other dates within the documents, she and all of the other paralegals doing the same thing at the firm were instructed to make the date of the stamp match the other dates, no matter what day it actually was. The documents would then be signed with the name “Cheryl Samons” by three different people, only one of whom was actually named Cheryl Samons. Kapusta said she drew the line when she was instructed to use random Social Security numbers assigned to people who might not even exist in order to falsify documents regarding each hypothetical person’s military status.

At least she drew it somewhere. She told the court that others didn’t. Unless Kapusta, a paralegal, was looking to incriminate herself, and unless she somehow managed to file emails from Samons and documents from the firm as evidence, there are now countless fraudulent papers containing military-related claims which are making their way through the system, and the actual people attached to the Social Security numbers used have absolutely no idea they’re tied to legal documents that they’ve never laid their eyes upon.

Some local governments were even accidentally informed directly that an institution was committing fraud, but no one noticed for years. The public record of Florida’s Nassau County shows that American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Inc. filed forms which claimed that a mortgage had been sold to, astonishingly, “BOGUS ASMTS.” The same company filed papers with Fulton County, in Georgia, which claimed that a mortgage had been sold to “BOGUS ASSIGNEE,” a company apparently based out of the address “XXXXXXXXXX.” Wells Fargo filed papers with that same county which supposedly showed that a mortgage had been bought by “BOGUS.” (No word on whether or not Wells proceeded to take itself to court for this infraction.) Some documents contain names with signatures that don’t even match.

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  • Debbie Texas

    This is a very comprehensive article and I only wish that my many attempts over the past several years had resulted in a good old-fashioned REAL story on one of the big national networks. 20/20 and the rest spend hours telling us about Tiger Woods or the latest celeb drug addict’s escapades…while literally millions of people and their families are thrown out of their homes and the back story is ignored. This is the biggest demonstration of the threat to our National Security and to our citizens and the most relevant story that needs to be told.

    Finding a law firm that can handle these cases is nearly impossible…either because they don’t have the expertise or they have conflicts of interest with the bank, builder, title company, city or one of the perpetrators involved. Then there is the cost that the perps knew most of us would not be able to afford. Those who do pursue usually wind up spending years in court and fighting additional fraud in the process…usually losing all their income, assets, health, savings and businesses in the process.

    Fines for the fraud? This is just one more element of the overall scheme/scam. First of all, they are a drop in the bucket compared to the profits…just a cost of doing business. Fines go right into the coffers of the agencies we think are policing them and they spend the money on their new facilities, salaries and benefits. Victim’s funds are another scam. Few ever see a nickel because of the rules set up to prevent payment or the insane requirements to file for them. There is ‘no overlap’ between agencies so even if the FTC or HUD find these criminals guilty of illegal activity; there is no reporting to the FBI/DOJ and ZERO prosecution. There is a back room deal done in secrecy in most cases, a fine and the corporate criminal goes back to business as usual. The public has no access to the information from THEIR FIDUCIARIES who are paid by our taxes; so they are defrauded over and over by companies who they think are established and large trustworthy entities. They are protected by the FBI and local, State and Federal politicians.

    In my case, HUD warned me to be careful for my personal safety because they “knew all the players in my real estate transaction…” Isn’t that great? They tell me I am in danger, but do nothing to help or protect me from known dangerous criminals. We filed a large case/complaint on behalf of multiple victims and I was told my documents made the case against Chicago Title/Grand Homes for their Title fraud. They had both already been fined for prior violations…Fidelity Investments was fined millions as the owner of Chicago Title. Companies like Chicago Title are the ‘front’ for their crimes and the crimes of their affiliates.

    Builder Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, Title Fraud, City Racketeering all played a part in how the conspirators were able to play the game and keep it going. But for the City officials paid off in a variety of ways…the tax deals and bond money to developers…the illegal permitting and blatant breaking of laws and ordinances and deed restrictions…the criminals would not find it so easy to carry out the fraud.

    BUT FOR the credibility of large banks and title companies; their lower level conspirators would not be able to con so many unsuspecting victims.

    People like me provided the docs and entered into mortgages in good faith. We bought homes in good faith from a large builder whose fraudulent activities had been aided by political friends and covered up by same. We went to the courts and ran into blatant fraud upon the courts, misconduct by Judges and other court officers. We went to the agencies and were jacked around and required to provide far more than we were able to afford under the circumstances in terms of boxes of documents…we were refused being able to send anything via electronic media. In some cases, the one year statute prevented us from accessing victim’s funds. Most of the time, the fraud is not discovered within a year.

    Even with my full documentation to prove the massive fraud, threats, home intrusions documented with the local police who answer to their criminal bosses, a bullet hole in my car near my window (while I was driving), written extortion, altered transcripts, witnesses and much more; the FBI and other agencies refused to get involved.

    We should have full and complete investigative Congressional hearings that include people like me who can demonstrate the conspiracies and extent of the fraud. This is no different than any other National disaster and should be handled in a similar manner. We should be able to take our information and documents to local offices and have our copies made and our circumstances determined in those meetings. Instead of bailouts for criminals; those criminals should be writing checks to their victims. And not little checks that do nothing to repair the losses. Our tax dollars should not go to the criminals or the victims; restitution should come from the top execs who devised the schemes before they are fitted for the orange jumpsuits.

    We should be handed the keys and a clear title to our homes and our good names and credit restored. Banks are hiding the massive numbers of empty homes. They will never voluntarily disclose the amount of real estate/toxic assets they created and stole from innocent victims. They won’t pay the invoices from contractors who keep the homes in good condition because they would have to put the entries on the books which are subject to audits. Most of the toxic assets they receive from taking over smaller banks are never added to the larger banks’ books.

    The damage to people is not just the loss of their homes and the homelessness that follows for many. The financial costs and losses and ill health and depression go far beyond the obvious. The destroyed credit and long term damage is literally unquantifiable. The suicides are not reported.

    The end game will never be acknowledged by those in power and behind the malicious premeditated thefts from homeowners and from those who invested in the Ponzi schemes based on fraudulent loan pools. This was a premeditated destruction of the middle and upper middle class and the elimination of private ownership. This was just part of the attempt to create poverty and an entitlement society dependent on the government…slaves and serfs.

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  • Florida Foreclosure Defense

    This is only the beginning of the Fraud involved in Foreclosure cases. Since this article has been published we have had more similar cases in Florida which we report on at our http:/www.FloridaForeclosureDefenseLawyersBlog.com

    David Goldman
    Apple Law Firm
    Jacksonville FL

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