Chain of Title: A No Trespassing Sign in Front of a Foreclosure



David Dayen’s Chain of Title Confirms What You Always Suspected: The Game is Rigged

Chain of Title should be required reading in every college-level business ethics class in America. At a time when “business ethics” is an oxymoron, perhaps the current generation that adores Bernie Sanders might better understand the dangers big banking monopolies hold. David Dayen’s book, Chain of Title, unearths a system with the power and collateral to stonewall millions of homeowners from obtaining one very simple answer: Who owns my mortgage?

If you haven’t been able to wrap your head around why the federal government has failed to prosecute one banker for the foreclosure crisis there is a very simple answer that Chain of Title alludes to. The federal government has a dark secret: the trusts are empty and the falsified notes cannot be traced back to their true owners so they must be “recreated” if a default occurs. This means that the investors, the pensions and the trusts own nothing. It also means that the banks now own everything- including the U.S. federal government. It hardly matters that we have separation of powers if the bankers and elite control all three branches.

Salon contributing writer David Dayen and winner of the coveted Ida and Studs Terkel Prize, illuminates how home buyers have ended up illegally evicted from their homes as the result of dishonesty, greed, and deception at the hands of mortgage lenders, servicers, investment bankers, and unscrupulous lawyers. Dayen states that Alan Greenspan “viewed regulations the way an exterminator viewed termites.” If this is true, then 2 Presidents viewed homeowners the way a sunbather views 300 million gnats at the beach.

What is truly amazing about this book is how Dayen, who has never gone through foreclosure himself, is able to recreate the desperation, optimism, and naiveté of homeowners fighting foreclosure while concurrently examining the systematic collapse of the economy. The insight into his three protagonists borders on the voyeuristic and compels the reader to proceed voraciously. The reader keeps rooting for the underdogs to prevail-but in the end, it never happens. Through Dayen’s expose you can literally smell the black mold on vacant houses, and feel the desperation of those who lack the tools and resources to fight back- but try with all their might to do so.

Dayen’s writing explores the possibilities for the housing crash while remaining detached from the outcome.  For example, he writes, “There is a rot at the heart of our democracy, rooted in a nagging mystery that has yet to be unraveled. It gnaws at people, occupies their thoughts, leaves them searching for answers in the chill of the night. Americans want to know why no high-ranking Wall Street executive has gone to jail for the conduct that precipitated the financial crisis. The oddest thing about the predominance of the question is that everyone already assumes they know the answer. They believe that too many politicians, regulators, and law enforcement officials, bought off with campaign contributions or the promise of a future job, simply allowed banker miscreants to annihilate the law in pursuit of profit.”

Dayen’s story begins when two of the protagonists start corresponding via discussion posts on Neil Garfield’s Living Lies blog, and come to the conclusion that they are being deceived by unscrupulous loan servicers. The homeowners will eventually meet other activists along their journey including Lynn Szymoniak and decide to take on the Foreclosure Machine. The personal sacrifices they make to become activists will leave all but Szymoniak permanently altered, and uncompensated for their efforts.

The homeowners include Lisa Epstein, a cancer nurse; Michael Redman, an auto dealership employee; and Lynn Szymoniak, a lawyer who investigates insurance fraud. Dayen chronicles their almost futile and life altering battles to save their homes from illegal foreclosure while acting on behalf of millions of homeowners without voices to complain. The author begins with Epstein’s case, followed by Redman’s; one-third of the way into the narrative, the two of them meet Szymoniak, who then pool their meager resources to raise public consciousness about banks who forge, fabricate and robosign to create the appearance of standing.

Dayen profiles hundreds of other individuals, many of them crooks, cowards, or corrupt men and women, many of whom had the authority to halt the fraudulent activities but were unwilling to do anything that would undermine their position or social standing.  Although the efforts of the whistle-blowers educated millions of homeowners wrongfully facing foreclosure—ultimately hundreds of thousands of houses remain empty and only now are people starting to put their lives back together with a paradigm shift- that their government doesn’t care. Dayen relates how prosecutors, judges, and the Department of Justice have caved to powerful mortgage industry donors while illegal foreclosures continue.

Whereas politicians and the banks have been indifferent that a mortgage is properly endorsed and assigned, Dayen believes that the technicalities matter and are there to protect the homeowner and investors. Without a clear chain of assignment from one entity to the next, there is no way to determine how the loan is transferred except to rely on banks who are not noted for their honesty or accurate business records.

Exposing the lies of the banks becomes a moral crusade for the three main characters and their decision to pursue justice will create an emotional smorgasbord, which Dayen meticulously reports. Chain of Title settles on the fact that the banks’ behavior not just indefensible, but criminal and duly executed with precision. This book won’t tell readers anything they don’t already know- but it will help the victims of foreclosure to recognize that the United States is now full of hard working Americans who were sucked into the vortex of banking greed- and who will never again believe in the rule of law or their leaders. This is a yet undiagnosed disease in the general public and the long-term repercussions are not yet known.

Dayen describes a bank pursuing foreclosure without legal signatures as “flailing away like a boxer in the dark”- and this is a feeling that also captures the feelings of many homeowners who continue to fight illegal foreclosure. Not sure where their well-funded opponent will come from next or what tactic will be used, the homeowner will flail away like a boxer in the dark hoping that some tactic will create sympathy or even due process from the court or cause the bank to retreat back to their hellish cave.

After reading this epic novel, it can’t be avoided that a free-market economy will function best when people have the ability to prove they own what they own and owe who they owe.

If we don’t return to the rule of law soon, the average American’s confidence will be undermined and alternatives will be sought.  It is amazing that the greed of banks, to save a recording fee, or pass around notes like bubblegum cards could undermine an entire industry- but that is exactly what has happened. Ominously, the first housing crash has yet to be resolved and it appears that the second wave, or what we call 2008 Part II is on the horizon. David Dayen’s book will be read well into the next century- and hopefully Americans will one day say, “How could people standby and let that happen?”  We won’t, but sometimes the wheels of justice take time.

How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud
By David Dayen


Associated Links


The Majority Report: How 3 Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Foreclosure Fraud w/ David Dayen


“It is happening again”: David Dayen on the epidemic of foreclosure fraud and the rigged economy that sets it in motion


How Eric Holder’s Law Firm Helped Make The Mortgage System Worse – David Dayen Part 2


Foreclosure Fraud: This is Obama’s Biggest Failure


How 3 Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Foreclosure Fraud – David Dayen On Chain Of Title


David Dayen: The Great Foreclosure Fraud


Radio Replay: The Everyday Heroes Who Took on Wall Street


Denbeaux & Denbeaux Podcast – Special Guest David Dayen Author of “Chain of Title : How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.”


Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud


10 Responses to “Chain of Title: A No Trespassing Sign in Front of a Foreclosure”
  1. natalie says:

    I have read lots of your stories. I’m in same boat. Bought hoa foreclouse. was told nothing owed, did title search, then all of a sutton wells fargo saying there’s balance. I will make it my life to get the word out about fraud in lee county. Anyone want to help?

  2. lms says:

    the govt was in on the scam or didnt have the power they needed to control the banksters and yes people all over are traumatized as they have a right to be, but we have to move forward and best advice i can give is do not overload yourself in debt, live moderately and do not call on the banks for anything if possible or go to the small community banks or credit unions to conduct your business. We are MAD and a civil war is brewing. What the banks did makes capital murder look like a walk in the candy store.

    • Ashley says:

      It’s still happening!!! How are we supposed to move forward? Leave our homes and just kiss everything goodbye? Credit is ruined now. Ugh, I have a hearing Monday.

  3. It is heart rending to read some of these personal accounts. I was especially moved by the comment below from”disableddad.” To have to live in your car is something you would expect to hear about from a Third World country, which is what America is fast becoming.

    I have been fighting with Deutsche Bank, pro se, for the past six years. The local judge presiding over our case is totally in the dark concerning the fraud that is called securitization. When I began the fight, I told my wife that she should prepare to lose. I am surprised we have gotten this far. Even if we lose, I am going to continue the fight and sue for wrongful foreclosure.

    Many people have told us to give it up as I spend almost all of my free time reading and writing briefs and motions. I have become somewhat of a local expert. Living in a depressed area in New York state, where there are many foreclosures, I want to start an organization that helps people to stay in their homes as long as possible. Most foreclosures are uncontested. I want to contest every one of them an will even donate my time to writing motions, etc., for others. I want to overload the system and this judge who does not belong on the bench.

    I have been told that if I do help others, that I can be charged with UPL (Unauthorized Practice of Law). As I researched this topic, I found out the lawyers are NOT licensed, they are certified. So, technically there is no law against practicing law without a license. A careful read of the statutes will show that the laws were written for those who are certified by the bar association. That being said, I am will to take my chances on helping others.

    My advice to every one is to RESIST, RESIST, and then, RESIST some more. As we move deeper into an authoritarian state, some are already calling it a police state, it is only going to get worse leaving us only one choice — to fight.

    I was thinking of purchasing the book mentioned in this article and sending it to the local judge.

    • Ashley says:

      I’m only starting to delve into this shit show now that my house was just sold at Foreclosure auction. I have filed my motion to vacate and hearing is June 2nd. Trying to saturate my mind with every available defense. I thought about giving my judge “Fighting the Foreclosure machine”. Do you really think they are clueless or its all a ruse? Surely they know!

  4. Tennessee Victim says:

    I had two houses broken into by the lenders henchmen. They stole the renter’s personal items he had packed to move after work. Neither house was legally foreclosed- only advertised for the courthouse [steal] sale. Owner’s legal possessions in both houses. We threatened to prosecute trespassers but they really aren’t afraid. They hire contract clean out people who hire illegals on a day contract [no trace] basis for which the lender nor servicer claims responsibility. The guy posting this No Trespassing sign was right. WE HAVE NO RIGHTS! And frankly less now than before. Big banking, GS all have a free ride now. I know everyone says fight, complain, etc. but please rest assured in a non-judicial state WE have NO rights!
    Been there done that!

  5. Incognito123 says:

    Angela, to fix the problem, many more need to stand up, and file complaints against all that do ANYTHING in violation of any law, rules, code, statute, etc, including attorneys, notaries, document signors, bailiffs, judges, and NO MATTER HOW SMALL OR THE OUTCOME OF THE COMPLAINT….

    • disableddad says:

      I lost my home, (26 yrs and $180k equity),my home biz, my home biz equipment ($25k) in 2012. I had no problem making my payments, but when BofA changed things in Dec 2009 they also changed my loan terms. I have been disabled since 2004 and I was unable to move any of my equipment before the deputies showed up to move me. I filed a complaint with the Solano Co., Ca DA in Dec 2009 about fraud documents, this was 6 mo before a default was filed. Nothing was done. I filed a complaint with the SOS because the notary wouldnt or couldnt provide a copy of her journal page. The gave me acertificate ( which I had to pay for) that stated as much and nothing ever happened. I rescinded the loan long before my place was ever sold. BofA didnt respond and nothing happened. I filed a complaint with the Superior Court, Pro Se because I couldnt find an atty with a sh!t or any b@lls. Before any evidence was even produced BofA, Mcarthy ? and surprisingly Freddie Mac claimed they served me ademurrer ( which was never sent) and the clerk filed the case for them. I lostmyentire life anoone gave a ?. I lived in my carfor 3 yrs and only recently found a room to rent. Do you know howhard it is to find a room to rent when you are over 50 yrs old? I got nothing left.They did what they wanted.

      • provencepearl says:

        Your story is so much like mine. I also have a disability. I did a rescission. FNMA (BoA was a servicer along the way) filed a UD. Atty for UD was also the trustee, not a third party. I filed a response with copy of rescission and case was dismissed. I had requested accommodations, including a meeting with court’s disability advocate to discuss privately. Court ignored request. Months later, sheriff posted. I filed bankruptcy. Bkcy court also did not grant accommodations. I hired a specialist in Americans with Disabilities Act/Amendment Act. Now have wonderful document outlining accommodations court should have granted and sections of federal law they are mandated to follow and did not follow. But sheriff locked me out with no notice. I now am trying to get belongings. Have served bkcy court with specialist’s report. Will be serving court for UD also. It is a mess. I now have a diagnosis of ptsd due to the legal abuse. Laws mean nothing these days. I have requested DA to take action for filing of fraudulent doc (trustee’s deed after rescission) and using that fraudulent doc in court to take title and possession of property. DA collects a fee on every land title doc filed specifically to fund taking action when fraudulent docs filed for taking title. But DA won’t even respond to my letter. Don’t know what to do to force her to do her job. File with grand jury? Writ of mandamus?

        People in these situations should have atty appointed at fee we can afford or on contingency or like criminal defense.

  6. Angela Banner says:

    The sad part is no help from the government! To repair what’s been lost. People are homeless

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