Robosigning is criminal, and I’m so grateful that Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has the courage and integrity to prosecute people for committing it.
The very term “robo-signing” has, I think, inhibited prosecution because banks have successfully messaged that it was “just a harmless technicality; the real villain is the debtor, he defaulted.” “Just a technicality” is a plausible line because the conjured image is more ridiculous than scary, and as a nation we’re biased against debtors.
We can’t help but be prejudiced against debtors unless we really pay attention, because the anti-debtor public-opinion-shaping/political support-building PR campaign never stops. I mean, it’s been specifically targeted at homeowners since the financial meltdown, but it was used to pass the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act which shifted a lot of power from the debtor to the creditor. (Or as the Consumer Federation’s Travis Plunkett put it, ”The bill simply doesn’t balance responsibility between families in debt trouble and the creditors whose practices have contributed to the rise in bankruptcies”.) The anti-debtor campaign was also run during fight over credit card reform, but thanks to a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, we got the CARD act in 2009. I mean, being anti-debtor has a long American history, including criminalizing default. People were incarcerated in “debtor’s prisons” until New York abolished them in 1831 and other states followed. But I digress.
My point is, robo-signing as a term failed to convey the legal seriousiness of the banks’ and banks’ vendors’ document fraud.