Eric Schneiderman with Eric Holder announcing DOJ investigation of foreclosure fraud
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Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase were sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over the use of a mortgage database that the state said led to improper foreclosures.
The banks’ use of the database, known as MERS, misled homeowners, undermined foreclosure proceedings and created uncertainty about ownership interests in properties, the state said in the complaint filed today in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
“The banks created the MERS system as an end-run around the property recording system, to facilitate the rapid securitization and sale of mortgages,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Once the mortgages went sour, these same banks brought foreclosure proceedings en masse based on deceptive and fraudulent court submissions.”
The lawsuit comes three days before a Feb. 6 deadline for states to join a proposed multistate agreement over foreclosure practices said to be worth as much as $25 billion. Last week, he was selected by the Obama Administration to help lead a state-federal group probing misconduct in the packaging and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities…
The state’s complaint…states that MERS eliminated the ability of the public and homeowners to track the purchase and sale of properties through the traditional public records system. That information is stored in the MERS private database, which Schneiderman called unreliable and inaccurate. The mortgage industry has saved more than $2 billion in recording fees with the system, according to the complaint.
Banks’ use of the registry, coupled with “faulty and sloppy” document preparation, has resulted in foreclosures being filed against New York homeowners where the foreclosing party lacked the authority to sue, Schneiderman said.
By relying on legally invalid mortgage assignments using MERS, foreclosure judgments have been obtained “through fraudulent and illegal means,” according to the complaint.
Go get ’em, Eric!