Shameless Arizona AG OKs Use Of Fraudulent Documents In Foreclosures As Acceptable "Shortcut" Where No Injustice Exists In Underlying Transaction??? Says "The Fact That There Is A Fraudulent Document May Or May Not Mean That The Foreclosure Is Wrongful!"
In Phoenix, Arizona, KNXV-TV Channel 15 reports:
- Thousands of Arizona families have lost their homes to illegal foreclosures. Illegal foreclosures are based on forged, faked and phony documents.
According to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, “There’s been a major, really major effort to clean up that situation.”
But that's not what we found. The ABC15 Investigators spoke to victims and their attorneys who say bogus documents are still being used to put people out of their homes right here in the Valley. We wanted to know why laws that make it a crime to submit forged documents in court don’t apply to those who are using phony records to foreclose on Arizona families.
A VALLEY COP AND A DEVOTED MOTHER FINDS FORGED DOCUMENTS
Gabriella Westfall has served her community as a police officer for more than 25 years. She says she contacted Horne’s office when she discovered that forged documents were being used in an effort to throw her out of her home. “I contacted the AG to say, ‘Look, I’m a victim,' but I have not heard from anybody in the attorney general’s office,” Westfall said.
Westfall said she faithfully paid her mortgage every month until the bank inexplicably raised her monthly payment and told her she needed a modification. She could only get one if she defaulted. Until then, bank records show she had never missed a payment.
But during the process the former detective says she discovered her lender was relying on a forged and fabricated document in an effort to foreclose on her home. Westfall says she was shocked to find the now-infamous signature of Linda Green. “I’m a victim of the system and a victim of fraud,” Westfall said.
Linda Green was, at one time, an employee of a mortgage document processing company called DocX. Public documents show Linda Green’s name was forged on tens of thousands of foreclosure documents across the country. Her name was signed as if she was a vice president of dozens of different banks.
According to public records, DocX ran a fake document mill set up to fabricate bogus records to be used in court to foreclose on families and push them out of their homes.
- Westfall says as a law enforcement officer, she cannot understand why the courts are letting lenders use forged documents -- and as a mother she cannot explain to her daughters why the laws don’t seem to apply equally to all.
The ABC15 Investigators sat down with Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to find out.
ARE FORGED DOCUMENTS AN ACCEPTABLE SHORTCUT?
We were surprised to hear Horne characterize the use of forged documents as a “shortcut." “Maybe a document was signed, somebody signed someone else’s name as a shortcut, but in the underlying transaction, there was no injustice,” Horne said. Referring to the homeowner facing foreclosure, Horne said, “That person didn’t pay.”
The ABC15 Investigators pressed Horne on why the laws against forgery and fraud don’t seem to apply equally. “If the homeowner is going to come in and fight their foreclosure and forge their own documents, they are going to jail," we said. "So I don’t think they are going to be so sympathetic to your argument that the underlying premise is that they still didn’t pay. Because many of these people did pay and they were still foreclosed on with fraudulent documents.”
Attorney General Horne replied, “Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being sympathetic with fraudulent handling of documents. What I am explaining to you is that the fact that there is a fraudulent document may or may not mean that the foreclosure is wrongful.”
That answer didn’t sit well with attorneys we spoke to who have been fighting illegal foreclosures in court.
Dan McCauley says he represents homeowners who are clearly the victims of fraud. He told us, “Every case I have taken, all of the cases I have reviewed, all of the documents are absolutely forged and fake and that needs to be addressed by the system.” Beth Findsen is another one of the small handful of lawyers fighting for families victimized by illegal foreclosures. She said, “Public records are a disaster area." And she warned that the fraud she has seen could have ramifications for years to come.
McCauley added, “It throws everybody’s chain of title into question now. We don’t know who owns what.”
Gabriella Westfall is living through the legal nightmare the attorneys describe. She says six different banks have appeared in court and in filings to claim they own her house. “I don’t know who I am supposed to pay my mortgage to,” she explains, “because we don’t know who owns the mortgage”.
Thanks to Cynthia Stephens for the heads-up on the story.