Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lenders Accused In Housing Court Of Dumping Blighted Foreclosures Onto Real Estate Market Shop For Friendlier Forum; Move Cases To Federal Court

In Cleveland, Ohio, The Washington Independent reports:

  • The fight that neighborhoods in Cleveland are launching against banks that dump vacant and vandalized foreclosed homes back onto the real estate market received a bit of a setback, [...]. A private, non-profit housing advocacy group had filed suit in local housing court to force the banks to clean up their properties before selling them, or to demolish them entirely. But the banks - Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo - convinced a judge to move the suit to federal court.


  • The move to federal court is more than just an arcane legal development. The neighborhood group wants the case heard in housing court because it validates what has become increasingly clear in the foreclosure crisis: Banks are property owners, with all the responsibilities that come with it. As they foreclose on houses and their inventories of bank-owned properties swell, banks try to dodge this reality by blaming servicers and paying lawyers to get them out of housing court.

  • The same thing happened in Cincinnati recently, where the local legal aid agency filed suit in housing court, but the case was moved to a federal court instead.

For more, see Banks with Deep Pockets Dodge Foreclosure Damages.

See also, Lawsuit Targets Banks With Novel Tactic (Advocacy Group Takes Grievances to Housing Court):

  • [C]leveland and other cities are “looking at old bodies of law to address new problems,” [University of Connecticut law professor] Patricia McCoy said, because they are trying to fight foreclosures with any tools they can. Cleveland has taken legal action previously over foreclosures. The city in January sued 21 investment banks, including Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank, and accused them of creating and enabling the subprime crisis. The suit was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court. The latest suit differs in that it was filed in housing court. BetaVacantForeclosure

Connecticut Warns Consumers Against Unsolicited Mortgage, Credit Card Debt Assistance; False Offers Of Help Are A "Scavenger Hunt" Says State AG

From the Office of the Connecticut Attorney General:

  • Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued an urgent consumer warning [last week] about unsolicited calls to consumers offering reduced rates on mortgages or credit card debt.


  • "Our advice to consumers: hang up on unsolicited offers," Blumenthal said. "This scam victimizes our most vulnerable citizens -- homeowners desperate to save their families and escape financial ruin. This reprehensible ruse -- false promises of reduced rates on mortgage and debt -- is actually a scavenger hunt for private, personal information on consumers that may be illegally exploited. Consumers who divulge details hopeful for better lives will find only deeper financial ruin."

For the Connecticut AG press release, see Attorney General Issues Consumer Alert On Mortgage And Debt Rescue Scam. loan modification

Loan Modification Services Prohibited In Vermont Unless Licensed, Say State Officials

In Montpelier, Vermont, The Burlington Free Press reports:

  • (BISHCA) has received inquiries and complaints about so-called foreclosure “rescue” services. While it is not inherently illegal to offer these services, the person doing it must be licensed with BISHCA as a lender, mortgage broker, or debt adjuster, said BISHCA officials.

For the story, see State: Be wary of foreclosure rescue services.

Friday, January 2, 2009

More On Philly Deed Theft Problem

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Intelligencer reports:

  • [P]hiladelphia has become a hot spot for deed theft in the past couple of years, said [Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds Nancy J.] Becker. She recalled an incident where homeowners left for their winter home in Florida only to return to the city in the spring to find all of their furniture and possessions gone and a family living in their home who thought they had rightfully bought the property.

  • In Philadelphia, it's so bad that the president judge designated two judges, and all they hear is land-fraud charges.”

For more, see New law helps limit deed fraud.

For an old NBC10 (Philadelphia) television story in which investigative reporter Lu Ann Cahn "steals" the homes of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, as well as the homes of the Philadelphia mayor and the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House of Representatives to highlight the deed theft problem in Philadelphia, see Stolen Homes.

Go here, Go here, go here, go here, and go here for other posts related to deed or refinancing scams by forgery, swindle, etc. KappaDeedTheft

Shelby County Commisioners Give Go-Ahead For Filing Race Bias, Predatory Lending Suit Against Major Lenders

In Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis Commercial Appeal reports:

  • Shelby County commissioners approved a resolution [last week] authorizing the county to file suit against the national lenders who, officials say, gave out risky, high-interest rate loans and enabled a foreclosure crisis in Shelby County.

  • The resolution alleges that these major national lenders engaged in "deceptive" and "discriminatory" lending practices targeted at the black community. And the resulting foreclosure epidemic has destabilized neighborhoods, eroded property values and damaged the tax base -- costing county and Memphis city government millions in tax revenues.


  • Webb Brewer, the director of advocacy for Memphis Area Legal Services, who will help the city and county prosecute, said the 10 or so national banks that gave out the most predatory loans will most likely be named.

For more, see Shelby commissioners authorize lawsuits against mortgage lenders (Resolution says loans targeted minorities, forced foreclosures).

See also, Memphis Daily News: Details Coming Soon for Lender Lawsuit.

Go here, Go here, and Go here for other posts on alleged race bias in real estate transactions. DiscriminationPredatoryLendingAlpha

Thursday, January 1, 2009

1031 Exchange Intermediary Suspected Of Feloniously Pocketing $550K+ In Clients' Sale Proceeds Found Dead By Suicide

In Boulder Colorado, the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

  • [K.C.] Schneider, who owns a commercial real estate firm in Boulder, said Wednesday he is [...] out $425,000 in real estate proceeds he gave National 1031 Exchange Service to hold while he closed on a new property.


  • Schneider filed a complaint in October against the now-defunct holding company's owner, Debra Edwards, and earlier this month Boulder police issued a warrant for her arrest on suspicion of three felony counts of theft of more than $20,000.

  • But the day before Edwards was to surrender to authorities, the 53-year-old certified public accountant and former board member of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce was found dead in her Longmont office. The Boulder County Coroner's Office said Wednesday that her Dec. 15 death was a suicide -- asphyxiation due to inhalation of helium.

  • Edwards' death led Boulder police to close its criminal case against her. Schneider said that leaves him and two other National 1031 Exchange Service clients -- who also claim to have been bilked of tens of thousands of dollars -- out in the cold.

For more, see Suicide complicates money-recovery effort (Client says Debra Edwards' Boulder financial firm stole $425,000 from him).

Go here for other posts on problems with 1031 exchange intermediaries.

Go here, Go here, Go here, and Go here for other stories of trust account / escrow account theft of funds. EscrowRipOffAlpha

S. Florida Man, Others Charged With Using Unwitting Mother-In-Law's I.D. & Submitting Simultaneous HELOC Applications To Suck The Equity From Her Home

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, Florida announced the return of a five count grand jury indictment charging eight participants(1) with a bank fraud scheme that resulted in the approval and disbursement of two home equity loans, totaling approximately $1 million. The U.S. Attorney's office said:

  • According to the indictment, "Benny" Benach [and three others] decided to submit simultaneous applications for fraudulent home equity lines of credit (“HELOCs”) to Bank of America and Wachovia for the total amount of $1 million, requesting $500,000 from each bank. Each HELOC application listed Benach’s mother-in-law as the purported borrower, and a home owned by Benach’s mother-in-law as the collateral. To prepare and process the HELOC applications, Benach’s mother-in-law’s name and social security number were used without her knowledge, input or authority. [...] At the time of the submission of the fraudulent HELOC applications, neither bank was made aware of the other pending HELOC application.

Among the participants charged were employees of the lenders who allegedly accepted and processed bogus loan applications.

For more, see Two Bank Insiders And Six Others Charged In Bank Fraud Scheme To Defraud Bank Of America And Wachovia Of $1M.

Go here, go here, go here, go here, and go here for other posts related to deed or refinancing scams by forgery, swindle, etc.

(1) Charged were Bienvenido “Benny” Benach, Jr., Ramon Puentes, Danny Flores, Rolando Alfonso, Jorge Nobrega, Jorge Arrieta, Sebastian Kishinevsky, and Adriana Cruz. KappaDeedTheft

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seton Hall Pro Bono Program Intervenes On Behalf Of Elderly Homeowner In Equity Stripping, Foreclosure Rescue Scam

In Newark, New Jersey, lawyers and law students from the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) at Seton Hall University School of Law have successfully vacated a foreclosure judgment against an elderly couple of were allegdly victims of a foreclosure rescue, equity stripping scam that resulted in a loss of approximately $400,000.00 in equity in their home by participating in a predatory lending/foreclosure rescue scam. CSJ believes the scam has been perpetrated on numerous other distressed homeowners in the area. The homeowners will now, along with CSJ, defend against the foreclosure.(1)

For the CSJ press release, see CSJ Stays Foreclosure, Charges Mortgage Scam.

(1) According to the press release, the Counterclaim filed on behalf of the elderly homeowners by CSJ against Third-Party defendants (a disbarred lawyer, a subprime lender, and others) includes, in part, a petition for relief for multiple violations of:

Reportedly also included in the countersuit are a number of common law claims. The pleading also charges that the foreclosing entity, assignee U.S. Bank:

  • Lacks standing to enforce the Note securing the Property because U.S. Bank is not a proper assignee and holder of the Note pursuant to N.J.S.A. § 12A:3-201 and Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code ( “UCC” );
  • Is not a “holder in due course” and therefore is vicariously liable for the Webbs’ claims and defenses against the originators of the mortgage, Credit Suisse Financial Corporation and its agent, ANM Funding, LLC;
  • Lacks standing to seek foreclosure because the mortgage was not assigned to it until after about four months the foreclosure action was filed. N.J.S.A. § 46:9-9 requires mortgage assignments to be in writing.

Unlicensed Practice Of Law Becomes An Issue With Some Loan Modification Firms

A recent story in The Washington Post raises an issue that could begin taking hold in targeting certain loan modification firms for engaging in illegal conduct when seeking out financially distressed homeowners:

  • [T]he pitch companies make varies. But one approach includes paying a company to challenge the legality of a loan -- a process housing experts say can be long and complicated.

  • Vienna-based Mortgage Analysis and Consulting, for example, charges $150 for a consultation and $250 to $500 for a preliminary audit. If the audit finds problems with the loan document, Mortgage Analysis will refer the borrower to a lawyer, who may charge an additional $2,000 retainer. If the lawyer requests a more in-depth audit, Mortgage Analysis charges up to $1,750, which clients can pay in installments.


  • Virginia's State Bar is investigating a complaint that [the firm's founder Jose] Semidey has illegally practiced law.(1) Semidey said he makes clear he is not a lawyer and refers clients to a list of lawyers he has compiled.

For more see Firms Charge Thousands To Modify Mortgages (Nonprofits Offer Service For Free, Advocates Say).

(1) Unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law has been raised as an issue in at least two recent civil lawsuits against loan modification firms, one by the Tennessee Attorney General, and the other by the Florida Attorney General.

In addressing what constitutes the unlicensed practice of law, the Florida Supreme Court, in The Florida Bar v. We The People Forms And Service Center Of Sarasota, Inc., 883 So. 2d 1280; (Fla. 2004), relied on the following survey of its prior decisions in holding that certain activities of a non-lawyer constituted the unlicensed practice of law:

  • Florida Bar v. Catarcio, 709 So. 2d 96 (Fla. 1998) (holding that a nonlawyer who has direct contact with individuals in the nature of consultation, explanation, recommendations, advice, and assistance in the provision, selection, and completion of legal forms engages in the unlicensed practice of law);

  • Florida Bar v. Becerra, 661 So. 2d 299 (Fla. 1995) (enjoining a nonlawyer from advertising in any fashion that may lead a reasonable lay person to believe that the nonlawyer may offer to the public legal services, legal advice, or personal legal assistance);

  • Florida Bar v. Consol. Bus. & Legal Forms, Inc., 386 So. 2d 797 (Fla. 1980) (holding that a corporation engaged in the unlicensed practice of law where its officers and stockholders were nonlawyers with no legal training who supervised and maintained a degree of control over the legal services it furnished through its lawyer employees and noting the inherent conflict of interest between the legal needs of the client and the monetary policy of the corporation and how such a business structure permits unlicensed and unregulated persons to profit from the providing of services which by law they are prohibited from providing).

Where loan modification firms offer and conduct, for homeowners, reviews of mortgage loan and other legal documents for the purpose of determining whether said documents are in compliance with the applicable lending, consumer, and other laws (Truth in Lending, HOEPA, RESPA, etc.), such services seem to fall squarely within the scope of the above survey of Florida laws and, consequently, could constitute the unlicensed / unauthorized practice of law in Florida. Assuming other states have similar case law in this regard, it may only be a matter of time before these types of non-attorney loan modification firms offering "legal reviews" or "legal analyses" of loan documents find the legality of their services being challenged throughout the country.

Colorado, California Collaborate To Shut Down Loan Modification Scams

Buried in a recent story in the Rocky Mountain News on a homeowner claiming to have been screwed out of about $3,000 by a loan modification firm is this excerpt:

  • In addition to the [16 subpoenas sent to loan modification companies in Colorado, California and Arizona, Colorado director of the division of real estate Erin], Toll also recently entered into what she calls an "unprecedented collaboration," with Jeff Davi, the division of real estate director in California.

  • "(Davi) has agreed to work closely with us to shut down illegal loan modification companies that prey on consumers when they are most vulnerable," Toll said. "Mr. Davi is well aware of the problem and will do everything possible to ensure Colorado consumers are not harmed by unlicensed California companies."


  • Davi, in a phone interview Tuesday, said he is "very pleased with our relationship with Colorado and Erin," and hopes to build similar relationships with state real estate divisions across the country, because the practices have become so widespread.

  • "These companies are based everywhere," Davi said. "I heard of one yesterday where a 75-year-old California woman gave her last $2,000 to a company out of Massachusetts. It is the saddest thing I ever heard."

For more, see Loan modification firms causing more problems for homeowners.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boston Legal Aid Firm Wins $54K Jury Verdict For Tenant Illegally Booted In Foreclosure Eviction; Now Seek Triple Damages, Attorney Fee From Servicer

In Boston, Massachusetts, The Boston Globe reports on William Allen, a local man who, with the help of local law students at Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, fought back against a mortgage loan servicing company in a case involving an illegal foreclosure eviction.

  • In January, after the Bank of New York, which owns the property, sent an eviction notice, Allen fought back. He filed a counterclaim, arguing that by changing the locks the bank tried to paint him as a squatter and that it intentionally did not turn on the water and heat, because it wanted him to leave.(1) Last month, after a three-day trial in Boston Housing Court, a jury awarded Allen $54,000 for his ordeal.(2)


  • Lawyers at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, which represented Allen, say that it's a rare victory for a tenant in a post-foreclosure case and that the verdict has caught the interest of legal services groups nationwide.

  • "The impact of this case is that the banks now know that if they engage in extrajudicial practices to gain possession of a foreclosed property it can cost them dearly," said Verner Moore, a lawyer and clinical instructor at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

For more, see Vindication after eviction ordeal (Jury backs tenant in foreclosure dispute).

Go here for more on the law students at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau urging tenants in foreclosed homes to fight back against careless/reckless mortgage companies seeking illegal evictions.

(1) The story states that, after experiencing a loss of heat and water to the premises, Allen turned to WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain - one of two legal services programs run by Harvard. A law student reportedly fired off a letter to the Bank of New York, saying that Allen lived there and urging the bank to get the heat and water turned back on. Allen alleges that the bank instead changed the locks and sent police after him.

(2) Reportedly, the case is not over. A hearing is a set for Jan. 30, when Allen's lawyers will ask a judge to double or triple the award because, they contend, the bank willfully and knowingly failed to act responsibly as a landlord. They will also seek attorneys' fees.

Failure To File Proper Paperwork A Stumbling Block For Plaintiffs In Credit Card Suits As Well As Mortgage Foreclosures

In Erie, Pennsylvania, the Erie Times News recently ran a story on how some individual consumers are fighting back against large finance companies in debt lawsuits:

  • [A] recent ruling in Erie County Court, as well as rulings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Erie and in Pittsburgh, show how judges are forcing credit-card companies, banks and mortgage companies to play by the rules, even as those corporations are desperate to collect on debts in these desperate times.

  • The fine print -- all those regulations enumerated in tiny words in credit-card contracts and mortgages -- apply not only to you, the consumer. The banks and credit-card companies must follow them too. And, with the help of vigilant judges, "they are starting to," said Erie lawyer Lori R. Miller.


  • Erie County Judge Shad Connelly, citing Pennsylvania law, agreed with Miller and threw out a suit over a claimed debt of $21,305, including more than $3,000 in interest, on a Bank One credit card. Connelly said the plaintiff, a debt-collection company called Unifund CCR Partners, failed to file the proper paperwork(1) and filed an amended version of its suit too late.(2)

For more, including how two bankruptcy judges in Erie and Pittsburgh are holding lenders feet to the fire in home foreclosure actions, see In some area debt cases, small print has yielded big help.

(1) Among the documents lacking, Connelly said, were a complete list of the dates and merchants for the disputed charges; the contract or credit agreement that Anderson would have received with the disputed credit card; and the appropriate documentation showing how Unifund purchased Anderson's claimed debt from another company, First USA Platinum.

(2) Reportedly, Judge Connelly gave Unifund a chance to file a corrected suit, though attorney Anderson could argue that any new civil action violates the four-year statute of limitations in her case.

Sloppy Lender/Servicer Leaves Judge Fuming, Homeowners Frustrated

A recent story in The New York Times describes how Wells Fargo left one federal bankruptcy judge fuming regarding a dispute the lender had with a homeowner couple over whether they had missed some of their required payments on their home loan. Wells Fargo claimed that the couple missed some payments but that, if they could present “valid, accurate and true copies” of the front and back of the checks they sent in, they would receive the proper credit.

What ultimately had the judge fuming was that, several months later, evidence came out that strongly suggested that the borrowers' purportedly missing payments to Wells Fargo were, in fact, received and processed electronically. That meant that the lender never returned the checks to the borrowers' bank, thereby making it impossible for the couple to provide the proof of payment that Wells Fargo had demanded in the first place. An excerpt from the story:

  • [S]idney B. Brooks, the judge overseeing the case, was clearly dismayed by the bank’s performance. In his opinion, he fumed that Wells Fargo had asked the borrowers for canceled checks as proof of payment, even though such checks were often not available.

  • Wells Fargo’s request for canceled checks was especially troubling, the judge said, given that the bank was a proponent of the 2003 law that allowed banks to stop returning canceled checks to customers.

  • The only institution that could have the original checks is Wells Fargo, he concluded. “The payments have, evidently, been lost in a black hole of the creditor’s organization or through accounting mismanagement,” the judge wrote. “This is a major lender/mortgage loan servicer where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing — the collection department does not know what the check processing and accounting departments are doing.”

  • Because this is not the first time the judge has encountered problems in Wells Fargo’s operations, he is considering sanctions on the bank. “This dispute might portend a widespread abuse of collection practices or creditor overreaching,” he wrote, “demanding of debtors what it, the creditor itself, is unable to provide: accurate and reliable record keeping and billing practices.”(1)

Not surprisingly, Wells Fargo reportedly disgreed with the judge's conclusions.

For the story, see A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere.

For the judge's written decision, see Wells Fargo v. Burrier.

(1) According to the story, the attorney for the homeowners says that this kind of dispute is becoming more common in her practice and that borrowers wind up losing too often. “A lot of times clients don’t keep canceled checks or maybe their bank account was closed and they can’t go and get the proof,” she said. “The bank gets that extra money for as long as the debtor can keep it up and when they can’t they are pushed out of their homes.” SloppyForeclosuresAlpha

Loan Modification Firms Beginning To Find Themselves In The Crosshairs Of Various Groups

The Washington Post reports:

  • A growing industry has emerged to take advantage of the unprecedented wave of foreclosures, charging distressed homeowners for help negotiating better loan terms -- a service provided for free or for a nominal fee by many nonprofits.

  • Such companies charge $500 to $2,500 or more and are drawing the ire of consumer advocates, regulators and lenders, who say many are just the latest version of foreclosure rescue scams and can make it more difficult for homeowners to get help.

For more see Firms Charge Thousands To Modify Mortgages (Nonprofits Offer Service For Free, Advocates Say).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Foreclosing Lender Can't Prove Ownership Of The Note? So What's The Big Deal???

The following excerpt out of a recent article on addresses the importance of establishing the ownership of a promissory note in foreclosure (or, for that matter, not in foreclosure):

  • [M]aking an issue out of the actual ownership of the securitized title might strike some as a shameless stalling tactic aimed at abetting a debtor who, after all, owes the money. But [Florida attorney April] Charney said that if such basic legalities aren’t adhered to, a homeowner could pay his or her way out of a foreclosure jam only to wind up in another when a new plaintiff emerges claiming to own the debt. She described cases in which homeowners have been sued for foreclosure by two different trusts, each claiming they owned their house, and cases where trusts have been sent documents on the same case by two different servicers.(1)


  • Bert Ely, a longtime analyst of the financial services industry and a scholar at the conservative Cato Institute who was among the first to predict the S&L scandal of the 1980s, said lenders may detest tactics like the ones Charney employs, but “this is well-established in bankruptcy practice, that you have to properly perfect the security interest, and if you haven’t, you’re screwed. … Debtors’ lawyers immediately start looking for flaws in how the debt is protected. Creditor attorneys always worry about this.”

  • It kind of boggles my mind that this is even an issue” in the nation’s current mortgage mess, he said. “I don’t understand how lawyers let this happen in the first place.” Mortgage-lending and servicing is “a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. … That’s what puts the discipline in the process.”

For the story, see 'Angel' of foreclosure defense bedevils lenders (Florida attorney trains hundreds of others to help troubled borrowers). (for the entire story on one web page, try here).

(1) For an account describing this (apparently growing) phenomenon, see The Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Foreclosure Mess: Two Different Plaintiffs Claim to Own Same Mortgage. According to the story, Charney points out that, because of the way mortgages have been securitized, it’s often unclear who actually owns the debt, and further, found that in many cases, the originating lenders only pledged these loans and didn’t actually transfer ownership of them to the trusts that are supposed to hold them and issue the securities. KappaMtgDocsMissing

Judges, Homeowner Attorneys Begin To Wonder How To Do A Loan Modification When Lender Can't Prove Ownership Of Promissory Note?

The New York Times reports:

  • WITH home prices in free fall and mortgage delinquencies mounting, pressure to modify troubled loans is ratcheting up. But lawyers who represent candidates for modifications say the programs are hobbled by the complexity of securitization pools that hold the loans, as well as uncertainty about who actually owns the notes underlying the mortgages.(1)


  • How can a loan be modified, these lawyers ask, if the lender cannot prove that it actually owns the note? More and more judges are asking the same thing about lenders trying to foreclose on borrowers.

For more, see A Mortgage Paper Trail Often Leads to Nowhere.

For posts that reference the failure of mortgage lenders and their attorneys to prove ownership of the promissory note when starting foreclosure actions, Go Here, Go Here, Go Here, Go Here, and Go Here.

(1) As the article points out, problems often emerge because these notes — which are written promises to repay the full amount of a mortgage — weren’t physically handled, legally transferred, or accounted for properly when they were bundled by Wall Street into pools or were subsequently transferred to other holders. Many of the notes are now missing. KappaMtgDocsMissing SloppyForeclosuresAlpha

Judge Tells Convicted Foreclosure Rescue Scammer To "Take A Hike" In Response To Request For Relief From Sentence

In Newark, Ohio, the Newark Advocate reports:

  • A man convicted of preying on homeowners facing foreclosure was in prison for slightly more than two weeks before his first chance at early release presented itself. Common Pleas Judge Thomas Marcelain [last week] denied Harry Blausey an opportunity for placement in a state program that could have allowed him to move first to a halfway house or immediately be released on parole, [...].

  • Blausey was convicted Nov. 3 of nine counts of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony; 13 counts of securing writings by deception,(1) a fourth-degree felony; and four counts of theft, a fifth-degree felony.(2)

Blausey was sentenced to four and half years in prison.

For more, see Blausey denied entry into early-release program.

Go here for other posts on foreclosure rescue operator Harry Blausey.

(1) Sec. 2913.43(A), Ohio Rev. Code: "No person, by deception, shall cause another to execute any writing that disposes of or encumbers property, or by which a pecuniary obligation is incurred."

(2) According to the story, the state successfully argued Blausey deceived 13 couples and individuals into signing over deeds to their homes on the premise that he would negotiate with their mortgage companies to avoid defaulting on their home debts.

"Foreclosure Chaser" Charged In Alleged Scam To Screw Lenders Financing His Buys; Accused Of "Playing The Gap" Leaving Title Insurers Holding The Bag

In Denver, Colorado, The Denver Post reports:

  • A man described by the Denver grand jury as a "foreclosure chaser" has been charged with multiple counts of theft and forgery for allegedly stealing money from various financial institutions in the Denver area. Indicted was Jay Donovan Jost, 63, who owned a series of companies, including Broomfield Lending LLC; MI-T Investments LLC; and Y-ZER Investments LLC.

  • According to the indictment, Jost is a "foreclosure chaser," who — through his various companies — obtains title to properties in foreclosure by establishing a redemption position. This is usually done by buying out a debt against the property.


  • The grand jury alleged that beginning in April 2005, Jost — using his companies — devised a scheme in which he defrauded those who were lending him the money to redeem the properties. Unknown to the lenders, said the grand jury, Jost had often already encumbered the properties. As a result, the deeds of trust offered for security often left the lender in an inferior position to another title holder.

  • In many of these cases, said the indictment, Jost was "playing the gap" — the time period between when legal documents from a closing on the property are presented to a county recorder and when the county actually records them. The gap in Colorado can be from five days to two weeks. During this gap period, title companies are unable to discover whether someone else holds title to a particular property.

  • Jost would use this "gap" to take out a mortgage from a second lender on a property that he, through one of his corporations, had recently purchased, the grand jury said. In some instances, Jost signed affidavits swearing the properties were unencumbered when, in fact, they were, said the indictment. As a result, the lenders were left without repayment on their loans to Jost.

  • Not only were the lenders deceived, said the grand jury, but so were the title companies involved in the closings with the lenders and Jost. The title companies guaranteed the entity making the loan that the properties were unencumbered. As a result of Jost's alleged trickery by playing the gap, said the grand jury, they were unable to discover that Jost had encumbered the properties. The title companies were then obligated to pay the lenders for the money lost as a result, said the indictment.

For the story, see Denver grand jury indicts 'foreclosure chaser.'

"Baby Mama" Accuses Ex-NBAer Of Forging Signature On Releases Of Lien For Child Support, Then Draining Equity From The Unencumbered Properties w/ Refi

In Mobile, Alabama, the Press Register reports on a civil lawsuit involving a former pro athlete and one of, what has been alleged to be a slew of, his babies mamas:

  • Former pro basketball player Jason Caffey has been hit with a lawsuit accusing him of using forged signatures on legal documents to transfer property.(1) [...] Caffey put up the properties as part of a negotiated settlement in a child-support case.

  • The plaintiff, Nicole Carter, is one of at least eight women with whom Caffey has had children, according to court records.


  • Carter's lawsuit accuses Caffey of forging her signature on documents filed in Mobile County Probate Court on Feb. 28, 2007, and May 31, 2007, canceling liens on the properties. "Jason admitted in a newspaper interview that he signed it but that my client authorized it. She did not," said Carter's lawyer, Steven L. Terry.

  • After canceling the liens, according to the lawsuit, Caffey transferred the properties to Marita Hansberry, who then refinanced them and sucked out the equity.

For more, see Caffey, former NBA player, accused of forgery (for the entire story on one page, try here).

Go here, Go here, go here, go here, and go here for other posts related to deed or refinancing scams by forgery, swindle, etc.

(1) Reportedly, the lawsuit also names the woman to whom rental properties were transferred, as well as the notary public who witnessed the transaction and the title company that handled the refinancing of the properties. KappaDeedTheft

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ohio AG Files Suit Against Loan Modification Firm For Violations Of State Consumer Statutes; Homeowners Clipped For Upfront Fees Averaging $650

From the Ohio Attorney General's Office:

  • The Ohio Attorney General filed a lawsuit [last Friday] to stop a foreclosure rescue business from continuing to victimize consumers throughout the state. The lawsuit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, alleges that James R. Van Putten, doing business as “Please Save My Home” in Conneaut, Ohio, violated Ohio’s consumer protection laws by engaging in unfair and deceptive practices. The complaint alleges violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Telephone Solicitation Sales Act, and Debt Adjusters Act.

  • Van Putten obtained the names of homeowners in foreclosure from court records and used direct mail to solicit his services. The mailing stated: “Regardless of your present mortgage or loan situation, we will be able to assist you by arranging a repayment plan to bring your loan current” and “Call Today & Save Your Home.”

  • Van Putten then entered into contracts through which he promised to save the consumers’ homes from foreclosure by obtaining and providing loan modifications, legal representation, and forbearance agreements. Consumers paid, on average, $650 for Van Putten’s services. The Attorney General’s investigation found that consumers did not receive the promised services.

For the press release, the accompanying lawsuit, and copies of the correspondence and contract used by the foreclosure rescue operator (Exhibits A thru D), see Mortgage Rescue Company Sued for Consumer Fraud.

Central Florida Foreclosure Rescue Operators With Massachusetts Connections Charged With Grand Theft, Racketeering In Alleged Equity Stripping Scam

From Fall River, Massachusetts and Orlando, Florida, The Herald News reports:

  • Father and daughter John and Shastine Pavao, along with other family members, participated in a four-year criminal scheme to strip equity from needy people’s homes, steal their homes and evict them, defraud lenders and resell the properties, Florida law enforcement officials allege.

  • Two of at least a half-dozen alleged victims were 83 and 90 years old, while the Pavao family, with deep roots in Fall River, “appropriated more than $3 million from various lenders,” Florida’s Bureau of Financial Investigations says in a 57-page affidavit provided Monday.

  • The criminal justice investigative unit released those details following news of the arrest Friday of John, 42, Shastine, 22, and her mother, Debra Pavao, 39, all of Windermere, Fla., on some 28 counts of first-degree grand theft over $100,000 and racketeering.


  • On Monday afternoon, Fall River police cooperating with Florida authorities arrested Debra Pavao’s brother George Rego, 43, and sister-in-law Cindy Rego, 46, of 203 College Park Road, on related charges, Toledo said. According to police and Orange County Clerk of Courts records, each are charged with two first-degree grand theft felonies and violating the Florida Communications Fraud Act.


  • A sixth person, Nancy Shine of Cape Canaveral, Fla., an employee of JPS Investments Group Inc. run by the Pavaos, was expected to turn herself in, Toledo said. She faces nine felony counts.

  • Florida authorities called John and Shastine Pavao the ringleaders, with JPS Investments in Ocoee and a second company, SCJ Investment Group LLC in Windermere, the two companies they operated. [...] “Evidence obtained during the course of this investigation revealed that John Pavao and Shastine Pavao were orchestrates of a ‘foreclosure rescue scheme’ that deliberately tricked victims into signing warranty deeds and other documents in an effort to steal their properties,” documents summarize.

  • Mr. Pavao stole their property out from under them by having them sign documents,” Toledo alleged. [...] Debra Pavao used her background as a mortgage company employee to obtain fraudulent larger loans without homeowners’ knowledge, investigators say.

For more, see Pavao family accused of scamming homeowners.

See also, Orlando Sentinel: Windermere family, 3 others face racketeering charges.

Elderly Victim Of Equity Stripping Deal Wins Hollow Victory As Court Ruling Comes Too Late To Allow Recovery Of Home; Scammers Claim To Be Broke

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

  • Telsche Paulson, 86, lost her south Minneapolis duplex and now lives in a rented house in Farmington. A suit against a mortgage firm that offered to help Paulson avert foreclosure, alleged that the “refinancing” was really a sale, and the firm stripped $155,000 in Paulson’s equity in the deal.


  • This month, a federal judge ruled that the now-divorced couple at the center of the scheme, Timothy Beliveau and Shelley Milless, had "tricked" and "deceived" Paulson out of her home, equity and subsequent monthly payments. Paulson's situation is part of a case that federal investigators say encompassed 35 properties in Minnesota and drew in a number of Northwest Airlines pilots as investors.

  • The judge's ruling was bittersweet for Paulson. In September, as she turned 86, she moved out of 4231 Pleasant Av. S. as a bank moved forward with foreclosure. She had lived there since 1958.


  • On Dec. 1, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz [...] handed Paulson her victory in her civil case against Tim Beliveau and Shelley Milless. But the couple, who split up last year, claim in court papers to have nothing left. Beliveau, whose million-dollar home in Mound is being repossessed, disagreed with the judge's ruling, saying Paulson knew what was happening the whole time.

  • He didn't put up a defense in the civil case, Beliveau said, because he didn't want to damage his defense against any criminal charges, which he expects.

For the full story, see Bittersweet victory for victim of swindle (A court ruled that Telsche Paulson had indeed been cheated out of her south Minneapolis home, but it's too late to recover it).

For the court's order, see Paulson v. Beliveau, et al.

For earlier story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, see NWA pilots say they were misled in foreclosure venture (A Minnesota couple's investment and real-estate programs are under federal investigation).