Saturday, October 18, 2008

New California Law Creates Registration, Bonding Procedure For Foreclosure Consultants; Addresses Foreclosure Surplus Scams

In Sacramento, California, the Central Valley Business Times reports:

  • Legislation designed to protect homeowners and homebuyers in California and help establish a more accountable lending environment, was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Among the bills signed into law by the Governor is:

  • AB 180 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles. This measure provides a registration and bonding process for foreclosure consultants and prohibits a foreclosure consultant from entering into an agreement to assist an owner in arranging the release of surplus funds after the trustee's sale is conducted.

For the story, see California toughens laws to protect homeowners and homebuyers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More On Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack

In a recent opinion involving the refusal to allow a foreclosing mortgage lender to continue with a foreclosure until certain requirements are met, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack finds himself wrestling with the employment status of one Margery Rotundo, a mortgage company executive whose name appears to regularly show up on documents filed with the court in foreclosure cases involving different plaintiffs. In several recent foreclosure cases he has presided over, Justice Schack has found that Ms. Rotundo has sworn in court documents that she is Senior Vice President for:

  • Residential Loss Mitigation of Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC,
  • Residential Loss Mitigation of HSBC Bank USA, N.A.,
  • Loss Mitigation for Nomura Credit & Capital, Inc., and
  • an unnamed servicing agent for HSBC.

Justice Schack makes this observation on Ms. Rotundo's apparent knack to freely move from mortgage company employer to mortgage company employer, as the need appears to demand:

  • The late gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and the late United States Representative Bella Abzug were famous for wearing many colorful hats. With all the corporate hats Ms. Rotundo has recently worn, she might become the contemporary millinery rival to both Ms. Hopper and Ms. Abzug. The Court needs to know the employment history of the peripatetic Ms. Rotundo. Did she truly switch employers or did plaintiff have her sign the "affidavit of merit and amount due" as its Senior Vice President solely to satisfy the Court?

For the rest of Justice Schack's opinion in this case, see HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Charlevagne, 2008 NY Slip Op 51652(U) [20 Misc 3d 1128(A)]; Decided on August 4, 2008.

For another recent case in which Justice Schack finds himself wrestling with the employment status of another ostensibly omnipresent bank executive, a certain Scott Anderson, see HSBC Bank USA v Antrobus, 2008 NY Slip Op 51639(U) [20 Misc 3d 1127(A)]; Decided on July 31, 2008.

Go here for list of links to over thirty of Justice Schack's decisions denying foreclosure to mortgage companies for failure to establish legal standing to bring the legal action.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Foreclosure Scam Offering Phony Home Loan Document Audit Services Lands Oregon Man 5 Months In Jail

In Jackson County, Oregon, the Mail Tribune reports:

  • A con man who posed as a "mortgage watchdog" was sentenced to five months in jail after being found guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court on multiple theft charges. Bart Arthur Blahosky's scam involved approaching people facing foreclosure. He told victims he would analyze their mortgage paperwork to find possible errors that could save them money when dealing with lenders. He would then take the paperwork, which includes sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and dates of birth, and not return. He always charged a steep fee for this service, Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said.


  • Jurors spent only 10 minutes deliberating after hearing the evidence against Blahosky in a one-day trial Thursday. They found him guilty on all counts — first-degree theft, two counts of second-degree theft and one count of attempted theft, said Bridges.

For more, see 'Mortgage watchdog' gets five months in jail. rescue

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Arizona AG Indicts Two In Alleged Equity Skimming Operation; Homes Involved Ended Up In Foreclosure, Say Authorities

In Phoenix, Arizona, the East Valley Tribune reports:

  • Jeffery Z. Sayegh, of Cave Creek, and Kimberly R. Werking, of Phoenix, were indicted by the Arizona Attorney General's Office on five counts of forgery, one count of money laundering and one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices. Werking, 42, was also indicted on six counts of residential mortgage fraud, five counts of theft and one count of illegal control of an enterprise.

  • The charges, all felonies, relate to an alleged equity skimming operation in Phoenix and north Scottsdale. These are among the largest indictments issued under the state's residential mortgage fraud statute, enacted in 2007.


  • The indictment further alleges that Werking skimmed more than $1 million in equity from the homes through the refinancing process, and, once no more money could be pulled out of the properties, allowed them to go into foreclosure.

For more, see Pair indicted in mortgage fraud.

From the Arizona Attorney General's Office;

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Florida Legal Services Firm Gets $200K Grant To Open Office To Deal Strictly With Fighting Foreclosures

In Jacksonville, Florida, First Coast News reports:

  • [T]hanks to a new $200,000 grant from the Jacksonville Community Foundation and the city, a new office strictly dealing with foreclosures will be opened soon by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. "We're expecting people to come see us who are behind on their house payments, who need relief, want to know what their options are," said Michael Figgins with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, or JALA. "They may have actually been served with foreclosure papers so we're going to focus solely on foreclosures, and saving homes in our community."

For the story, see Jax Legal Aid gets $200,000 to Fight Foreclosures.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Illinois AG Hauls Another Foreclosure Rescue Operator Into Court For Alleged Violation Of State Law; Count Now Up To 15 Firms

From the Illinois Attorney General's Office:

  • Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [yesterday] continued her aggressive legal fight against mortgage fraud by filing a lawsuit against a St. Marys, Pa., company, which has been operating a mortgage rescue fraud scheme and preying on vulnerable Illinois homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.

  • Madigan filed suit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Aeroworks, LLC, doing business as Augustus Rae and Reed, and its president, John F. Reed. The suit alleges that the defendants violated the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by falsely promising to help consumers save their homes after they have fallen behind on their mortgage payments.

  • According to the complaint, the defendants charge consumers up to $1,185 in upfront fees for homeownership counseling and mortgage rescue services but rarely produce successful results. They also fail to give consumers the right to cancel at any time. The complaint alleges that the defendants accepted money from at least 215 consumers throughout Illinois during 2006 and 2007.

For more, see Madigan Sues Pennsylvania Company For Mortgage Rescue Fraud (Company Preys On Illinois Homeowners Facing Foreclosure).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Homeowners Claim Improperly Reported "Zombie Debt" On Credit Report Prevented Mortgage Refinance; Lost Home To Foreclosure After ARM Interest Reset

The Wall Street Journal reports:

  • [E]rica Noe of Burke, Va., says an old debt on her husband's credit file cost them their home -- in part because it prevented them from being able to refinance their interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage last year. Her husband, Kenneth, had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002; in that proceeding, the court discharged his prior debts. Nevertheless, they were unaware that a previous $7,000 credit-union loan remained on his report, pulling down his credit score for several years.

  • "We thought that once we filed for bankruptcy, it would go away," says Ms. Noe. "But it didn't. It affected everything." The 31-year-old nurse says they didn't find out about the error until they tried -- but failed -- to refinance their mortgage. When the rate reset, the Noes' monthly mortgage payments shot up by about $1,000; they lost their home to foreclosure last November. "It was a snowball effect," she says. "Unfortunately, everything just kind of worked against us at the same time."

  • "I tried to fix the error on the report by calling the credit union and telling them to stop reporting," she says. Currently, their lawyer, Robert Weed, is filing a separate lawsuit against Equifax and the credit union. Equifax declined to comment on an ongoing suit.

Source: Dealing With Debt That Refuses to Die (Court Ruling Requires Credit Bureaus To Wipe Away Bills Incurred Before Bankruptcy; Getting a New Report).

Go here for other posts on zombie debt. zeta