Be sure to read Lynn Szymoniak’s email to Daniel Ruetenik, Associate Producer of 60 Minutes/CBS News below…
(CBS News) If there was a question about whether we’re headed for a second housing shock, that was settled last week with news that home prices have fallen a sixth consecutive month. Values are nearly back to levels of the Great Recession. One thing weighing on the economy is the huge number of foreclosed houses.
Many are stuck on the market for a reason you wouldn’t expect: banks can’t find the ownership documents.
It’s bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they’re unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren’t there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people – down on their luck – out of their homes.
60 Minutes/CBS News
I approach the reairing this Sunday of the foreclosure fraud episode on 60 Minutes with mixed feelings.
Before the initial showing, I would have asked “How can we get judges, prosecutors and legislators to watch this?”
Now, I am asking, “How can we get judges, prosecutors and legislators to care about this?” Judges have watched the episode and have said “I don’t care that the notary wrote her name upside-down.” Others said,
“I can’t let a TV show into evidence.”
I was floored by this. Why would so many people be so determined to trivialize these crimes by banks?
I was contacted by several thousand people after the show – many were losing their court cases to documents “signed” by Linda Green. Lender Processing Services refused to step forward and disclose to courts that these documents were fraudulent; the mortgage servicing companies continued to press as many foreclosures as possible using these documents or similarly forged and fraudulent documents.
By far the most disturbing development was the firing of the two Florida Assistant Attorney Generals, June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who were leading the investigation of LPS. One of the reasons was
that they had been too aggressive with the lawyers representing LPS. Then one of the highest ranking members of the Attorney General’s office joined LPS as a Senior VP of government affairs. Then the press began reporting
about campaign contributions made by LPS and LPS officers to the Florida Attorney General.
No matter how egregious and well-documented the wrongs, there are no consequences for the banks.
By far, my overwhelming feeling four months later is anger – mixed with renewed determination to speak the truth. I am very disturbed by the power of banks. Before I was somewhat aware that banks had gained
tremendous power and influence. Now, I am aware almost every moment of every day that money controls our politics and banks control our money.
The most encouraging development has been the reaction of county recorders. I flew to North Carolina to meet Guilford County Recorder Jeff Thigpen. Jeff is not the sort of individual who watches TV and says,
“Someone should do something about that.” Jeff and his co-workers really went to work immediately and have been working ever since to expose the corruption of our land records nationwide. In Massachusetts, John O’Brien
even commissioned a study and has spoken out about the massive problem caused by MERS and corrupt mortgage servicers. In Michigan, it was Curtis Hertel, Jr. who dared to speak the truth.
In Florida, almost nothing has changed. The state attorney and the clerk of the court here have NOT accepted my request to meet with them. The Florida Attorney General’s office may be hard at work investigating my complaints,
but if so they sure have not contacted me. Once June & Theresa were removed, all communication ceased.
Deutsche Bank and its lawyers have become much more aggressive in my own case, even adding my son as a defendant (though we were able to get that dismissed).
If the extent of this fraud is ever exposed and addressed, it will be because people like these country recorders and bulldog legislators like Elijah Cummings of Maryland were not intimidated by the banks and their service companies.
My regret is that I may have held out false hope to many desperate people.
If journalists had not told this story – and the truth about crimes by banks – then the banks’ version of history would prevail: “Millions of Americans woke up one morning and decided to be irresponsible deadbeats. More, faster foreclosures will save the economy.”
I admire the hell out of you and 60 Minutes for running this story. I sure did expect more courage from prosecutors and legislators – but I am finally, at age 62, cured of my naivete.
I look forward to the story about the banks being brought to justice.