Probing Pr. William foreclosures, group sees widespread irregularities, ‘robo-signed’ papers

Lenders may have foreclosed on hundreds of homeowners in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park using unreliable, “robo-signed” documents, according to a report by the group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.

Virginia has one of the fastest foreclosure processes in the nation. And Prince William was one of the first and hardest-hit areas of the Washington region in the foreclosure crisis. More than 10 percent of households in the county went into foreclosure between 2004 and 2009, VOICE said. Concerns about bogus paperwork led several banks and states last year to temporarily halt foreclosures.

A team of more than 30 VOICE volunteers found widespread irregularities in a random selection of more than 1,600 real estate records, which amount to 10 percent of the foreclosures filed between 2004 and 2009, when foreclosures in Prince William peaked. They found that one employee of a loan processing firm based in Jacksonville, Fla., signed foreclosure documents as an official for seven different banks. They also found mismatched signatures for the same notary public.

“Robo- signing and the speed of the foreclosure process in Virginia have hurt homeowners,” said the Rev. Clyde Ellis, senior pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Woodbridge. “There is no way to know how many could have avoided foreclosure if the process simply worked.”

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