Exclusive Expose’ “Housing Meltdown” 4closureFraud.org and ForeclosureHamlet.org Featured in The Daily Business Review

Housing Meltdown

Grassroots effort leads to attorney general probe

By: Paola Iuspa-Abbott

Lisa Epstein, an unemployed oncology nurse, and Michael Redman, a former online consultant for Toyota, never planned to be on the front line of the foreclosure crisis.

But that happened when they independently mounted campaigns to challenge a system they say is stacked against consumers and where courts are more focused on moving cases than dispensing justice.

For nearly a year, Epstein, 44, and Redman, 35, have spent countless hours in South Florida courthouses scrutinizing foreclosure documents filed by lenders’ lawyers.

They have sent copies of filings they consider improper — including potentially fabricated documents and many with signatures they believe are forged — to the Florida attorney general, the FBI, Florida legislators, the U.S. attorney, the Florida Bar and other agencies urging probes of the law firms that filed them.

They say their efforts have paid off.

Last month, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum began investigating whether Florida’s largest foreclosure law firms had submitted false affidavits and other documents in order to obtain final judgments against property owners whose properties were in foreclosure.

Among the firms McCollum is looking into are the Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation; the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson in Fort Lauderdale; and Shapiro & Fishman, with offices in Boca Raton and Tampa. In May, McCollum’s office launched a probe into the Florida Default Law Group in Tampa.

The law firms have denied any wrongdoing.

“I am convinced the [investigation] would have not happened without Lisa’s input,” said foreclosure defense lawyer Elsa Figuera, with E. Figueras & Associates in Delray Beach.

She often goes to Epstein for help when she needs to locate foreclosure cases that could help her build better defenses for clients.

The AG’s office confirmed it has received information from Esptein.

“Ms. Epstein initially took her concerns to the Florida Bar, who then sent them to us and we also met with her,” according to statement from the AG’s office. “We appreciated all that she provided this office.”

Spurred By Frustration

Epstein, who is fighting to save her West Palm Beach home from foreclosure, said her activism grew out of frustration. Before her income significantly shrank and her savings disappeared, she spent eight months unsuccessfully trying to negotiate with her loan servicer for a reduced mortgage payment.

She stopped making home loan payment in 2008. U.S. Bank, as trustee, sued her in February 2009 and her case is pending. She defended herself until early this year, when she hired an attorney.

She said her motives to fight the system have evolved. In the beginning, she was upset by the government’s bailout of banks that made the risky loans while little was being done to help the homeowners losing their homes.

“Initially, we were mortified, outraged and grieving over the eviction of millions of Americans from the only home that they had,” she said. “Shelter was chosen as the basis for a Wall Street gamble. Wall Street lost and got bailed out while the average family was evicted onto the streets.”

She is now past the grieving stage. Now, she says, her motivation is to get a foreclosure moratorium until the attorney general’s investigation is completed.

“Let’s take a look with the best and brightest minds, let’s examine what’s happened, let’s really get some fair and equitable solutions and have some criminal investigations and indictments to give this country hope,” Epstein said.

Epstein’s outspoken approach is rare among distressed homeowners, who often want to remain anonymous to avoid being labeled “deadbeat homeowner,” said Epstein, who cringes at the term.

Rather than hiding her personal struggle, she turned it into a full-time cause: being the voice of a group of people she says are largely un-represented in the worst foreclosure crisis in decades.

Redman doesn’t own a home, but when he began to help his fiancee fight foreclosure of her Port St. Lucie home more than a year ago, he became an activist. He began uncovering what he considered suspicious documents filed by lenders’ lawyers trying to prove their clients owned the note and had the right to foreclose on people’s homes and decided to raise public awareness of the problem.

“I began noticing patterns of the same people signing assignments [of mortgage] for 20 different banks but their signatures never matched,” Redman said.

Last November, he founded 4closureFraud.org to post copies of the documents he considered flawed. Around the same time, Epstein launched ForeclosureHamlet.org, where registered users can chat and add content. Her site is mostly directed to homeowners seeking information on how the foreclosure process works. Redman’s is more oriented toward providing documentation to foreclosure defense lawyers.

Their sites have become information clearinghouses for judicial orders favoring homeowners, lawsuits filed against foreclosure firms and their clients, assignments of mortgage and affidavits with suspicious signatures and depositions of employees of loan servicers and foreclosure firms.

“It is strange, but they have the most ready and easy to access information for defense lawyers,” said attorney Lynn Szymoniak, with the Szymoniak Firm in West Palm Beach. “They are a huge resource tool for us. On their sites, I can find depositions that would take me hours to get. Some of the most helpful information comes from them.”

Szymoniak became a foreclosure defense lawyer early this year, when her own home went into foreclosure and she began noticing “fraudulent” documents being submitted by her lender.

Joining Forces

Epstein and Redman met last November at a foreclosure defense conference in Clearwater. They quickly realized they had a lot in common and agreed to join forces.

Every week, Epstein spends hours at the main courthouse in West Palm Beach examining foreclosure files, observing judges and foreclosure attorneys in court and listening to brief conversations that often sprout outside the judges’ chamber.

“I learn a lot by watching and listening,” said the mother of a 3-year-old girl who often accompanies Epstein to the courthouse.

Redman, through 4closureFraud.org, does his own research in addition to posting some of Esptein’s findings on his site. He has become so knowledgable about the foreclosure process that he recently landed a legal research position with a local law firm…

The firm now sponsors his website, which gets nearly 100,000 views a month, including visitors from the White House, the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. State Department, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said Redman, displaying a list of Internet address of the site’s visitors.

“We just want to empower others to see what is really going on,” he said.

To help homeowners research mortgages, their sites include a guide to navigating public records and a basic foreclosure litigation defense manual. They also have chatrooms for people to connect and discuss their cases.

Stuart homeowner Cathie Dorman has been defending herself in a foreclosure suit for nearly two years. Dorman is a frequent visitor to ForeclosureHamlet.org, where she goes to learn about court decisions that may help in her pro se motions and pleadings.

“I definitely benefit from the support of others within the U.S. that are also fighting,” said Dorman. “Sometimes it is enough just to know you are not alone.”

To continue reading the article  click here to head over to the DBR and find out what we are planning for our next battle…

If it is locked, view cached version here…

And be sure to comment on these issues in the comment section of the DBR article…

Thank You Paola and Pete!!!

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4closureFraud.org

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Daily Business Review:

The Daily Business Review is the primary tool, information source and communication forum for South Florida lawyers and business professionals who routinely engage in dealmaking, client development and business negotiations.  We publish legal, real estate and financial information for the top lawyers and business executives daily in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Comments
28 Responses to “Exclusive Expose’ “Housing Meltdown” 4closureFraud.org and ForeclosureHamlet.org Featured in The Daily Business Review”
  1. Stefan Levy says:

    Lot’s of help and hope here. Need to digest it all. Bank just denied loan modification. Illinois Hardest Hit won’t help as loan is “interest only”, in their view a “bad for the homeowner deal”. Sheriff sale set for April 8. Going tomorrow to see a foreclosure attorney. This may be the road to take to save my home – and/ or to fight an unjust system stacked in favor of banks. Any input appreciated.

  2. Ron Moss says:

    Another report has Wall Street making it to the Turks and Carico Island and promising to acclimate with neighbors in the first century. With all maggots and land lubbers , pirates and crows plus natural woodpeckers

  3. April says:

    Kudos to you Ms. Epstein and Mr. Redman! We went through hell on getting a loan mod on our house — never late once, but income decreased a lot — proved it and they still made us go through the HAMP four month trial nonsense. I was told that if we made all payments on time there’d be no negative reporting to the credit unions — WRONG! It shows as 120 days late. I contested it with the credit unions and nothing. It stays on there. When the hell are consumers/borrowers going to get some help in the legal sense from our LEGISLATORS, BOTH ON THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS?!? Consumers need to be able to look up easily what legislation each legislator has sponsored, co-sponsored, voted for/against! VOTE THESE BUMS OUT WHO DON’T REPRESENT THE BEST INTERESTS OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS! I’m sick of these politicians looking the other way when they’re taking “campaign contributions” from lobbyists representing these banks and financial firms. Until there is more outrage from the public, expect more of the same.

  4. Joe Loomer says:

    Couldn’t get in to the “next battle” link – and the cached version was also a dead link. But for the record, you have the support of a very wide audience here – thank you for taking the fight to the courts!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    Augusta GA Homes

  5. Francine Cole says:

    Wachovia/Wells Fargo Bank recently allowed a stranger to take approximately $60,000 out of an account with my name on it — twice — after I filed a lawsuit against local officials and a grievance against a local attorney/judge with the Morris County, New Jersey Bar. Clearly, this was done to punish me, deprive me of those funds to fight with and drive us into foreclosure. Interestingly, it happened too after I filed a RESPA request with the bank and asked it to produce the original instrument of indebtedness.

  6. Propublica has gone DARK in regard to Loan Modifications : (

  7. The article is in English! Yay! This is a great article and I’m SO happy to see people taking notice of what you guys do to help homeowners throughout the state and the country. You guys are awesome and a true inspiration to us all.

  8. marilyn lane says:

    Opps. Typing error. The fourth paragraph of my last comment below should read –

    The only Equity the title Attorneys were speaking of when they stated to Judge Schlesinger :we have equity” was the equity under the table for Judge Schlesinger.

  9. marilyn lane says:

    I am in New York fighting to regain possession of my two new york City condos.

    After many years Astoria Federal S & L’s attorney Arthur Walsh stated in New York Supreme Court It’s Indemnify, Indemnify Indemnify (for auctioning off my two NYC condos that Astoria never owned to straw buyers) and the title companies are stepping in.

    The Title attorneys,. corrupt Thomas Malone of Fidelity National Title and corrupt David K Fiveson of Coronet Title did not want to indemnify but wanted to be intervenors for the Forged deeds they insured and be heard and what they told Judge Schlesinger of NYSC is time makes a forged deed good.

    The title attorneys , Judge Schlesinger and I all know a forged deed has no equity. The only equity corrupt title companies and corrupt Judges ty the title attorneys were speaking of when they stated to Judge Schlesinger “we have equity” was the equity under the table for Judge Schlesinger and Judge Schlesinger’s ears perked up, she looked at me and said “it doesn’t look good for you ” and ruled against the law.

    Lisa and Michael have worked so hard to give us all access to all the various scams going on in the banks, title companies and courts stealing our homes that we are energized for the never ending fight till we are put back in possession of our properties and made whole and and for me , racketeers especially William P Foley CEO of Fidelity National Title, Judge Alice Schlesinger and corrupt title attorneys Thomas Malone and David K Fiveson are criminally indicted.

  10. Bust them! says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvdmBn3Kn2o

    Mortgage Fraud Securitized Market Bailout Digitized Note Bond MERS = MONEY LAUNDERING Collapse

  11. fighting mad, mad as hell says:

    About the Administrator • Contact Information • Espanol
    Anyone who was added to this class action “lawsuit” needs to read the fine print again.
    It’s not a lawsuit at all but a mass approval of Decision One’s methods of giving mortgages. It clears them of all wrong doing and claims that minorities believe they got a fair deal from Decision One!
    My sister was added to this “lawsuit”, it gives everybody named a “settlement payment” of $200 to basically drop the any allegations discrimination by Decision One!
    I have seen it all now, they have hit absolute bottom with this trick!

    Here is the entire transcript, I hope somebody can tell me that I am wrong about this mess.

    Allen v. Decision One Mortgage, LLC

    Case No. 07-11669-GAO
    About this Settlement
    Making a Claim
    More Information
    FAQsNoticeOverviewWhat are your rights
    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are my Benefits Taxable?

    How can I Replace a Lost Check?

    What Borrower Assistance Programs are Available and How do I Qualify for Them?

    When will I Receive my Payment?

    How do I Exclude Myself from the Settlement?

    How do I Object to the Settlement?

    How can I Get a Settlement Payment?

    How much are Settlement Payments?
    Answer:

    If you are a Decision One Borrower, you were eligible to claim a maximum of $200 per loan from the Settlement Fund.

    What Claims will be Released by this Settlement?
    Answer:

    The Settlement was approved, and therefore, the Settlement is legally binding on all Settlement Class Members, including Settlement Class Members who objected. If you, or someone acting on your behalf, are currently litigating claims against Defendants or other released parties, you are barred from pursuing the claims released by the Settlement unless you validly “opted out”.

    In summary, you have released all race discrimination claims relating to the origination of your mortgage loan(s), including any claim that race discrimination caused you to pay more for your mortgage than you should have paid, or caused you to be placed in a loan that was not suitable for you (“Released Claims”).

    Please note that this is only a summary of the release. The full terms of the release, which will bind all Settlement Class Members as to certain claims against the Defendants and certain affiliates and related entities (“Released Parties”), are set forth in the Settlement Agreement which is on file with the Court. The Settlement Agreement is also available for viewing under the “More Information” link on this website. The full release is also contained in the Notice.

    Do I Have a Lawyer in This Case?

    What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

    How Can I Get More Information?
    Answer:

    If you would like to review the Settlement Agreement or Preliminary Approval Order, click on the “More Information” link.

    Please do not contact Decision One, HSBC Mortgage Corporation, HFC/Beneficial, HSBC Mortgage Services Telesales, or the court about this settlement. Any and all callers will be directed to this website. If you have questions, please refer to the FAQ’s and the other information posted here. Inquiries about the Settlement that are sent through the privacy statement will not be answered.
    This site is not operated by Decision One, HSBC Mortgage Corporation, HFC/Beneficial, or HSBC Mortgage Services Telesales. This class action settlement is supervised by the court and is administered by a claims administration firm that handles all aspects of claims processing. Decision One, HSBC Mortgage Corporation, HFC/Beneficial, and HSBC Mortgage Services Telesales are not authorized to respond to questions from members of the plaintiff class regarding the settlement.

    View our Privacy Statement

  12. hogwash says:

    Great video explaining the fraud. take a trip down the rabbit hole.

  13. The easy way to fix all of this is simple what we need more than anything is REGULATION,, REGULATE THE BANKSTERS TO THEIR TEETH, This will be the only thing that can stop these Banksters from sucking and extracting the wealth from this country, the middle class, the American families and we will stop theses FRAUDCLOSURES Regulate every transaction, Foreclosure, credit cards, derivatives, Credit Default Swaps etc,The next thing we should do after REGULATION?
    BREAK UP THE BNAKSTERS ! Yes break them in to pieces so we can finally have some competition, brea them so none of those Banks are worth more than a few Billions and this way they will never ever be To Big To Fail !
    REGULATE THEM and BREAK THEM

  14. Linda Venturella says:

    ATTENTION, PRESIDENT OBAMA!!! HOW MANY MORE HOMEOWNERS ARE YOU GOING TO ALLOW THE BANKSTER CROOKS TO KILL???? WE NEED A NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM , RIGHT DAMN NOW!!!!!

    • popgoestheweasels says:

      You know what I’m saying, OBAMA ‘YOUR FIRED’ !

      • AMEN to both of you!

        If I had the backing, I would run for office.

        Our problem is we get a crew of asshats and we say we will vote you out. The problem is no good choices are offered. I find myself voting for the best of the worst. This is JUST WRONG!

        OBLABLA has no marbles and I hate hearing him speak to us. It always sound like he is adressing us as children.

        TheHutMaster for PRESIDENT !

        “FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT”

  15. Neyko says:

    Redman of 4closureFraud.org and Epstein of ForeclosureHamlet.org, as well as Law Offices of Carol C. Asbury have provided countless hours of information to struggling homeowners that normally wouldn’t have a clue where to find information such as this, nor would these homeowners understand that these banks ARE NOT untouchable. I myself am a struggling homeowner that has been fighting the bank for almost 3 years, jumping through fire hoops every step of the way, however these three have given me the mustard seed of hope I needed to fight back.

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR US!!!!!!!

    • Neyko,

      We too, like, Redman, Epstein and Carol are a very studied Law Firm.

      My backgroung in Computer Sciences and knowledge of the inside operations of Banking make us a powerful and effective firm.

      We need to pool us ALL TOGETHER and use our tallents to get folks they help they deserve.

      I applaude this site and the folks behind it.

      Please let them know that I am always willing to help.
      I have built a large data center and also software to battel the delays and also an NPV model that is a game changer!

      “FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT”

  16. Heather Minty says:

    I took my complaints to the Florida Bar about six months ago about fraulendt rescue mortgage scheme that my defense attorney got me into and sucked all my money from me. I am fighting a forecosure from Countrywide/BofA. I almost lost my house two weeks ago. Do you think The Forida Bar is even paying attention to me. They think I am the crazy white woman from Miami. I am and proud of it.

  17. Delia says:

    Cyn veras…

    Apparently your home wasn’t taken from you in the correct manner. You still have right, title and interest in your home that you think you lost. Now they have to close off your rights. But here’s a tip for you. The instant you signed the application for your house, it was completely paid off, lock stock and barrel.

  18. cyn veras says:

    Is this the new scam?

    I sold a home five and a half years ago. The buyer did not assume any existing loans on the property. They did a conventional loan. Originally my boyfriend purchased this home while we were living together.Some years later I purchased the home from him. Originally when my boyfriend purchased the home he assumed a VA which later when I purchased I did not assume the VA loan. When he purchased the home we used a title company and I researched title transfers back to the original owner myself, viewing all of the microfish copies. When I purchased the home a title search had to be redone. I purchased title insurance that covered the mortgage company but not myself. I felt and still do that there were no title issues. Now almost 6 years later I am listed as a defendent “lis Pendens” because the person I sold the house to is being foreclosed on. They are stating a defective warranty deed and I believe ,though I am not clear about it, they are saying the reason is because it did not state that I am a single person and not married next to my name on the deed. My question is …is the banks attorneys just fishing? I have 20 days from today to respond. Any advice? By the way the home is in Polk County Florida and I live in Virginia and I sold the home after moving to Virginia. I am a single mom that does not have the resourses to fight this. What do they have to gain by destrying me and my perfect credit score over this? I did nothing wrong

    Any help will be greatly appreciated

  19. cyn,

    First, It is VERY IMPORTANT TO ANSWER within that 20 Day Period.

    Find a good Law Firm.

    We are in Florida and if I can help you get the direction you need, please let me know?

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