Podcast: David Dayen on “Chain of Title: Wall St’s Great Foreclosure Debacle”

Chain of Title by David Dayen

David Dayen on “Chain of Title: Wall St’s Great Foreclosure Debacle”

KGNU’s Claudia Cragg speaks here with David Dayen (@ddayen), a contributing writer to Salon and a weekly columnist for the Fiscal Times. Dayen also writes for publications including the New Republic, the American Prospect, The Guardian, Vice, The Intercept, and the Huffington Post.

Under discussion here is Dayen’s new book, Chain of Title (The New Press).

“Chain of title” refers to documents showing that a mortgage was transferred properly from owner to owner, so the final bank can prove it actually owns the mortgage. A huge fraction of mortgages — probably a large majority — issued during the bubble simply do not have it.

Not many noticed while the bubble was going up, but after it collapsed and the recession took hold, millions of people fell into default on their mortgages. Dayen’s book follows three private citizens, Lisa Epstein, Michael Redman, and Lynn Syzmoniak, all of whom were sucked into the foreclosure machine after the economic crash of 2008. In desperation they began poking around their foreclosure documents, and found howling, inconceivable errors — being foreclosed on by a bank that did not own the mortgage, obviously impossible dates, missing signatures, and so on.

They investigated further, and found that their cases were by no means unique, they were just one of the tiny minority of people who bothered to contest their foreclosure. Practically every case they looked at had gargantuan holes in them. Others had it even worse — banks who had foreclosed on people whose mortgages were paid-up, or ones who had no mortgage at all. It turned out the banks had battalions of people committing systematic fraud. “Robo-signers” would attest to “personal knowledge” of homes, or forge others’ signatures, or falsely notarize documents, hundreds of times per day. The sheer speed meant that the documents were almost universally garbage, but on the rare instances a foreclosure was challenged, the banks would usually just come back later with a new set that was magically in order.

Epstein, Redman, and Syzmoniak became obsessed with the foreclosure disaster, and they joined with others to agitate for the government to step in and provide relief for homeowners. After awhile, they began to get some traction. All this obvious fraud gave the government enormous leverage. If a bank does not have proper chain of title, it is illegal to foreclose. Since it means the bank does not own the mortgage, it is theft. Under New York law, securities which did not properly follow the original contract (and they usually didn’t) would be void. And under federal tax law, income from securities without proper documentation could potentially be taxed at 100 percent. With those tools, the federal government could have easily used the threat of prosecution and taxes to force the banks to the negotiating table.



2 Responses to “Podcast: David Dayen on “Chain of Title: Wall St’s Great Foreclosure Debacle””
  1. Randall Stephens says:

    I’ve listened to most of the interviews of David Dayen that you’ve linked to here. This one stood out to me as being one of the better interviews.

  2. Bruce R Nelson says:

    I have forwarded a copy of this blog to Mr. Britton, Sr Analst at Ocwen Ombudsman. I have offered Ocwen an opportunity to settle with me for defrauding me out of my home which was made free and clear by Judge Horner of Polk County Circut Ct, Oregon. The home was awarded to me by Judge horner based soely on the FACT that AHMSI failed to offer any evidence of Proof of Standing in a hearing demanded by AHMSI to “pprove” they had standing to which when Judge Horner asked AHMSI attorney “do you have the note “original) to which Ms Shill answered “No your honor. Then AHMSI was purchased by Ocwen, Ocem partnered up with HSBC to haul me (pro se) to Portland CFedeal Ct and without out my pro se presence Ocwen, then under investigation by CFPB and HSBC, rhen under investigation my FBI for laundering South American Drug Cartel cocaine profits in the USA (this would be during the time our Feds were after “El Chappo” head of Medelien Drug cartel, Columbia SA now on his way to criminal trial in NY (wonder if he will reveal his financial helpers was HSBC, who was also partners with Ocwen to steal my home, and with ZERO evidence of OROOF of Standing in Judge Anna Browns Portland Federal Courtroom. And, chck this out, Brown dismiss me with prejudice without ever allowing me in her court where my single argument was “show me the note, show me the mortgage” evidence I had proved a year or so earlier depending soley on the Federal Truth in Lending Act of 1968.

    Thuus the scurrelous partnership of HSBC/OCWEN and AHMSI, which had been dumped by Wibur Ross former sole owner of AHMSI. It all tails back to one fraudulent crim after another going back to Wells Fargo, Denver taking a PRIME mortgage loan, selling it to Otion One which instantly carved that loan up in to mini byte sized chuncks an solf those chunks to Wall St by way of AHM, anoother crooked company whose CWO was charge with crimes of fraud and which was then sold to the Vulture of Wall St, Mr Wiber Ross who changed the “tainted name AHM (American Home Mortgage to the more sanitary name of American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc or “AHMSI” which Ocwen slobbered all over itself to buy Ros’ AHMSI withou or maybe with knowlege that AHMSI had “heat” on it like a hot potato. um, Hum Hum.

    I’ve not heard from Ocwens Mr. Britton regarding settlement and perhaps I never will. After all Ocwen not only caught HEAT from Richardrey Dir of CFPB but now apparently is facing additional HWAT from, I believe the FTC, whicg, no doubt is the reason d’etre of “Billy Boy Embrey, being dumped by Ocwen (very recent) and as well, Embrey is also facing serious heat which may see him amoung the first hot shot Big Tall Bld “wizards” who gutted me and, oh yes, gutted the USA as well. More recent evidence indicates a whole platoon of European and US Bankers are using their big tall buildings as planks to step off into suicide. These theives are sick and gutless to face justice. Thats All Folks

    Bruce R Nelson
    Banner Elk, NC

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