Saturday, December 10, 2011

Despite Having Valid Loan Mod In Place, Homeowner Nearly Loses Home To BofA Foreclosure; Bankster Halts Sale After Media Steps In, Shines Spotlight

In Rio Grande Valley, Texas, KRGV-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • A national bank admits its error almost cost a Valley family its home. The home loan modification program was supposed to make life easier. It was supposed to take away some of the financial burden. It did the opposite.


  • The Rodriguez family has lived here for nearly 20 years. They needed help paying the bills. They turned to Bank of America and a home loan modification program. The program allows homeowners to pay their mortgage at a reduced rate. They thought it would help.

  • "We got our payment back that they weren’t going to accept any more payments because the house was going to be foreclosed on," says Rodriguez. The bank told Rodriguez she owed almost $16,000.

  • Bank managers failed to realize the homeowner was put into the loan modification program. Rodriguez felt her back was against the wall. She called the bank to find out what was going on. Finally, things seemed to get straightened out.

  • "They even said, ‘Oh, miss, we do apologize. It was a mistake on our behalf. We'll go ahead and fix that mistake. Just to go ahead and continue making payments,’" says Rodriguez.

  • She still continued to get notices that she would lose her home. The bank gave her until this past Tuesday to make a full payment.


  • CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted Bank of America to find out what was going on. This was their response:

    "We apologize to Ms. Martinez for the error we made in completing her modification. We had already stopped the foreclosure sale that was scheduled for earlier this week. We will work directly with her on the next steps."

For the story, see Error Almost Costs Valley Family Its Home.

Lawsuit: BofA Continues Harrassing Elderly Central Florida Couple After Foreclosing Over Payment Made Too Early

In New Port Richey, Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reports:
  • For the Bullingtons, dealing with Bank of America is like something out of Groundhog Day — without the happy ending.You may recall earlier scenes from their story: James Bullington, 78, is dying, which led to financial problems for the New Port Richey couple.

  • His wife, Sharon, sought to ease the financial pain by getting Bank of America to modify the terms of their mortgage. The bank agreed. Then it foreclosed after Sharon Bullington, 70, made a mortgage payment too early.

  • After stories appeared in August and September in the St. Petersburg Times, Bank of America apologized, restructured the loan and paid their legal fees. The Bullingtons have paid their payments since.

  • But Bank of America is still after them. Almost weekly, notices arrive. Phone calls too. The nation's second-largest bank wants them to modify their mortgage, the same one they've already modified. Each notice lists a different amount for what is owed.

  • With a terminally ill husband, Sharon Bullington has had a bellyful of Bank of America. "It's hurtful and upsetting and disgusting," she said, quivering on the telephone. "It's just terribly upsetting. We signed the modification."

  • Now, the couple has filed suit demanding the bank stop the harassment and stop contacting her. Bank of America did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

  • The couple's attorneys accused the bank of violating the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. The statute allows for damages of just $1,000 and attorney fees. "It's not about the money," said attorney Vincent LoBue of Yesner & Boss. "It's the principle. The bank shouldn't be contacting them. We represent them. The bank knows that."

  • Still, aside from the mailings and telephone calls seeking a new loan modification, Bank of America regularly sends the Bullingtons something else: payment notices for their recently modified mortgage. Sharon Bullington questions why the bank continues to hound them.

For more, see New Port Richey couple files harassment suit against Bank of America.

BofA Continues Attacks On Hapless Homeowners; Refuses To Honor Earlier-Granted Loan Modification To Widow After Hubby's Recent Death

In Phoenix, Arizona, KPHO-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • June Geffre lost her husband Tom to pancreatic cancer in November 2009. Months before he died, he applied for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Geffre said a permanent modification was granted shortly after he passed away – but she's run into all sorts of problems because her dead husband never got to sign the papers.

  • "Here I was, paying every month (the amount the bank told me to pay), thinking I was OK and waiting for the OK that the loan would be approved in my name and everything," said Geffre. "Then they hit me in July saying, ‘We can't accept your money anymore.'"

  • She said bank representatives told her she was paying the wrong amount and was now in default. She was at her wit's end when ASU's Homeowner Advocacy Unit and other community agencies stepped in to help.

  • "Ms. Geffre sent at least five copies of the death certificate. It took that long for Bank of America to realize her husband was dead," said Alyson Vivattanapa, a student attorney with the Homeowner Advocacy Unit.

  • A foreclosure sale was scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. "Federal law allows her to assume the mortgage so she can stay in her home," said Vivattanapa. Advocates got a temporary restraining order just in time, which will keep June in her home for another month while they hash this out in court.

  • "There's absolutely a great injustice," said Vivattanapa. "Bank of America should have accepted the HAMP agreement and let her stay in home."

  • "I don't have a whole heck of a lot, but what I do have I worked hard for," said Geffre. "What right do they have to do this to anybody?"

  • CBS 5 News contacted Bank of America for comment. A spokesperson responded via email, saying, "We are unable to comment on this case due to the pending litigation." Both sides are due back in court later this week.

Source: Widow: Bank won’t honor loan mod after husband dies.

Imprisoned Bay State Con Man Answers New Fraud Charges Of Taking Property Owners' Cash In Real Estate Deals & Allowing Mortgages To Go Into Default

In Fall River, Massachusetts, The Herald News reports:
  • Joseph Pereira made another appearance in court Tuesday, doing what must be familiar by now: Getting arraigned. Pereira, 46, formerly of Rodman Street, was officially charged in Superior Court with two more counts of fraud. He was ordered held without bail — an academic point, since he is in prison, serving a three- to five-year sentence for fraud.

  • Pereira watched without expression as prosecutor James McKenna provided an outline of the two new charges to Judge Thomas F. McGuire Jr. While he was out on bail, McKenna said, Pereira met with two people to offer his services as a financial advisor.

  • He allegedly accepted $20,000 from a President Avenue resident, offering to take over payment of the man’s mortgage while negotiating a new mortgage at a lower interest rate. Pereira did not negotiate a new mortgage or pay the man’s mortgage with the money provided, according to McKenna. The man called police after learning from the bank that his home was facing foreclosure and reading in The Herald News that Pereira was going to jail for fraud, prosecutors report.

  • In the second case, a Fall River woman hired Pereira to help her manage the finances of a pizza restaurant and an apartment building she owned, prosecutors said. Pereira took cash from the woman but did not use it to pay her mortgages as promised, McKenna told the judge. “It resulted in a default on the property and the properties were sold at foreclosure,” McKenna said.

  • Pereira went to court on Sept. 30, 2010, and pleaded guilty to 15 separate charges of cheating and lying to friends and neighbors. He was sentenced to three to five years in state prison on that day.

  • He was later convicted of more larcenies, admitting that on two occasions he accepted money to complete the sale of cars he did not own. Pereira is under court order to repay all of the victims in his schemes.

  • Pereira has grown noticeably thinner during his time in prison. He did not speak during the arraignment, allowing his lawyer, Matthew Burke, to enter two pleas of not guilty on his behalf. The next court date is Dec. 27. It was scheduled as a conference for a possible plea deal.

Source: Con man Joseph Pereira arraigned on new fraud charges.

Denver Cops Pinch One, Look For Another In Title-Snatching Scam Targeting Vacant Homes In Foreclosure, Victimizing Unsuspecting Buyers, Renters

In Denver, Colorado, KMGH-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • A man accused of selling and renting homes he didn’t own was formally charged Monday. Alfonso Carrillo was accused of victimizing unsuspecting renters and buyers who are primarily Spanish-speaking.

  • He was charged with multiple counts of theft, forgery and offering a false instrument for recording -- all felonies.

  • Carriollo is accused of filing phony deeds on houses vacated through foreclosure, then gaining access and posing as the owner. The charges allege he took thousands of dollars in payments from unsuspecting potential home buyers and then gave them fraudulent deeds to properties.

  • The actual property owners were unaware the property had been "sold." The charges also allege that he targeted Spanish-speaking home buyers, often undocumented, who may be reluctant to work with law enforcement, out of fear.

  • Rudy Breda, 53, is also wanted in connection with the scam, accused of recording phony deeds with the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s Office. He is not in custody. Carrillo is scheduled to appear in Denver District Court on Jan. 6, 2012, for arraignment.

  • The investigation is continuing and there is concern that there may be additional victims, the District Attorney's Office said.

Source: Man Charged In Real Estate, Rental Scam (Second Man At Large).

Unwitting Would-Be Tenants Continue Falling For Foreclosure Rent Scams

In Rockwall County, Texas, WFAA-TV Channel 8 reports:
  • From the stockings to the Christmas tree, Kimberly Agee and her family planned to celebrate the holiday in their new home in Heath, but now their future is in limbo. "We are finally getting settled. We thought this was our big break," said Agee. "And then there's a knock on the door. It's the constable serving us with an eviction notice, and we've been only here two weeks at this point."

  • The family rented the home after responding to an ad on Craigslist. It turns out this home is a foreclosure. Fannie Mae, the owner, told News 8 it took over the property more than 50 days ago and that it was illegally rented out. They consider Agee to be the victim of a rental scheme, and the agency has launched an investigation.


  • Documents show that Agee, a single mother, signed a one-year lease with Dan Blackburn from Housmart Inc. The company's Web site indicates it specializes in helping families stop foreclosures. The Housmart operation is based out of a luxury high-rise on Victory Park Lane in downtown Dallas. We didn't find Blackburn there, but we reached him by phone.

  • Blackburn told News 8 that as far as he knew, the house was in litigation and couldn't comment any further. When we asked him if he had the authority to rent out the home, the call went silent. News 8 tried to contact Blackburn again, but our calls were not returned.

For the story, see Family searching for new home after alleged rental scheme.

For story update, see More families come forward in Rockwall rental scheme:

  • [D]ozens of viewers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area e-mailed News 8 after the initial report aired Sunday, Dec. 4, telling us they were in the same predicament and had no recourse.

  • Call the Dallas Police Swindle Unit if you did drop off any payments to the Victory Park Lane location where Housmart is located. Police can determine if this is a civil or criminal matter.

  • Theft by deception is a felony, if more than $1,500 was lost in a bogus transaction.

Court Boots Bulk Of Cleveland's Public Nuisance Suit Attempting To Hold Banksters Responsible For Peddling Subprime Loans

In Cleveland, Ohio, The Plain Dealer reports:
  • A Cuyahoga County judge has dismissed most of a 2008 public nuisance lawsuit Cleveland officials filed against 21 banks and mortgage companies in an attempt to punish them for bankrolling subprime loans.

  • The dismissal cuts off another avenue the city sought to collect millions of dollars in damages related to the foreclosure crisis. A similar suit was dismissed in July 2010 by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

  • The lawsuit languished on Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Brian J. Corrigan's docket for more than a year with no action taken until a Plain Dealer editor on Nov. 15 inquired about it.


  • But Corrigan left a portion of the city's lawsuit intact. Cleveland sought a claim that banks owe the city costs associated with the demolition of certain properties. This part of the suit will be heard in the future.

For more, see Common Pleas Court judge rejects most of Cleveland's suit against banks over subprime loans.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Suit: "Another Tale Of Bank Of America Cheating Its Customers" As Bankster Is Accused Of Putting Borrower Into Default w/ Unauthorized Escrow Account

In San Diego, California, Courthouse News Service reports:
  • Bank of America found a new way to illegally extract money from customers, according to a federal class action: deduct taxes and insurance from mortgage payments, even though the homebuyers make those payments themselves, then call the mortgage in default for the unauthorized deductions, and charge late fees and penalties.

  • Lead plaintiffs Rick and Susan Dolfo say that's what Bank of America did to them. "This is yet another tale of Bank of America cheating its customers," the complaint states.

    "In 2005, plaintiffs obtained a residential mortgage loan. Bank of America subsequently bought the servicing rights to the loan. From the time the loan was issued, plaintiffs complied with their obligations under the loan agreement. They made their monthly payments, maintained the required homeowner's insurance coverage and timely paid their property taxes. Nonetheless, in December 2009, plaintiffs noticed on their monthly mortgage statement that Bank of America paid their property taxes and homeowner's insurance without the plaintiffs' knowledge or consent, and even though plaintiffs also paid them. To fund the impound account, and without informing the plaintiffs, Bank of America took money from plaintiffs' monthly mortgage payment, not leaving enough to cover plaintiffs' monthly mortgage payment, throwing plaintiffs into default. Once in default, Bank of America, as the loan servicer, was able to charge additional fees and penalties. Bank of America also falsely reported to credit agencies that plaintiffs were in default on their mortgage."

  • The Dolfos say Bank of America had no authority to set up an impound account because they were already paying their insurance and taxes. [...] The Dolfos seek class damages and punitive damages for breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, violation of the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act and conversion.

For more, see Class of Homebuyers Claims BofA Found a New Dirty Trick.

For the lawsuit, see Dolfo v. Bank of America, N.A., et ano.

California AG Bags Pair, Seeks Extradition On Another As Criminal Prosecutions Of Alleged Loan Modification Rackets Continue Picking Up Steam

From the Office of the California Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Kamala D. Harris [] announced the arrests of two Southern California men who, under the guise of an attorney-backed loan modification company, collected more than $6 million from homeowners nationwide for services that were never performed.

  • Christopher Fox, 37, of Laguna Niguel and Curtis Melone (AKA Curtis Kubat), 37, of Huntington Beach were arrested Tuesday on 37 felony counts, including conspiracy, grand theft and unlawful collection of advance fees. They are being held at the Orange County Jail on $500,000 bail and will be arraigned [] in Orange County Superior Court.

  • Fox and Melone - along with King Harris III, 42, of St. Louis, Missouri - collected more than $6 million in up-front fees through Orange County- based Green Credit Solutions. The Attorney General's office will seek extradition of Harris, who currently faces federal mail and wire fraud charges in Missouri.


  • In June 2009, the Attorney General's office launched an investigation of Orange County- based Green Credit Solutions - later renamed Guardian Credit Services and Get My Credit Grade - in response to numerous consumer complaints filed with the office, as well as with the Better Business Bureau, the California Department of Real Estate and the State Bar of California.

  • Through witness interviews, analysis of the company's marketing materials, and its business and financial records, DOJ investigators uncovered a scheme in which thousands of victims paid $3,500 for what they believed were attorney-backed loan modification services to reduce their interest rates, monthly payments or principal balance.

  • From November 2008 to October 2009, Fox, Melone and Harris collected more than $6 million from thousands of homeowners across California and nationwide. Victims were told their funds would be held in a so-called "attorney escrow account" until services were completed.

  • In fact, those fees were often deposited into the account of a disbarred attorney and then promptly transferred to GCS. Likewise, the company fraudulently claimed that loan modification services would be performed by attorneys; Harris is a disbarred Tennessee attorney and marketing materials referred to his alleged partners at the defunct law firm of "Smith Harris PLLC."

For the California AG press release, see Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrests in Nationwide $6 Million Loan Modification Scams.

For the criminal complaint, see People v. Fox, et al.

California, Nevada AGs To Combine Efforts Into Foreclosure Document Robosigning Scandal

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:
  • Nevada and California, states with the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, will team up to investigate allegations of foreclosure fraud and other misconduct in the mortgage industry.

  • At a joint news conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said their offices would share litigation strategies and would link their teams in the handling of both criminal and civil investigations.

  • The two states will combine evidence and information gathered during ongoing investigations but will do separate prosecutions. Both states have created special task forces to investigate robo-signing of fraudulent loan documents before the housing market crashed and predatory practices on loan modifications in recent years.


  • When asked about states taking the lead while the U.S. Department of Justice has been criticized for not taking action, Masto promised to hold bank and mortgage company executives responsible for wrongdoing, regardless of their stature. "We use the tools and resources available to us … that's state law,'' Masto said. "It would be wonderful to have the federal government beside us, but that's not the case."

  • Harris said she was "looking forward to forging similar collaborations with other states."

For more, see Nevada, California plan joint inquiries into mortgage fraud.

Maine Supremes Side w/ Bankster In High Profile Robosigning Case; OKs Lower Court Ruling Finding No Contempt When Lender Filed Faulty Paperwork

In Portland, Maine, The Portland Press Herald reports:
  • By a 5-1 decision released this morning, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court ruling that allowed loan servicer GMAC Mortgage, despite admittedly flawed practices involved in affadavit signing, to foreclose upon a home in Denmark purchased in 2003 by Nicolle M. Bradbury.

  • Through the work of her attorney, Thomas A. Cox, a retired lawyer who volunteers for Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Bradbury had successfully fended off foreclosure by exposing so-called "robo-signing" practices of lender employees with little or no knowledge of the individual mortgages who nonetheless signed hundreds of affadavits each day.

  • The Bridgton District Court partially sided with Bradbury, in ordering the Federal Naitonal Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) to pay nearly $24,000 in legal fees. Cox also wanted the lender found in contempt and the foreclosure dismissed, but the state supreme court disagreed.

Source: Court upholds ruling in robo-signing foreclosure (A Denmark woman whose case touched off a national uproar over foreclosures with faulty paperwork may finally lose her home).

For the ruling, see FNMA v. Bradbury, 2011 ME 120 (Me. December 6, 2011).

Boston Feds: Closing Attorney Snatched $3M+ In Real Estate Escrow Cash, Failing To Pay Off Existing Mortgages

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Boston, Massachusetts):
  • A Fairhaven attorney with an office in Taunton was charged [] in federal court with diverting mortgage loan funds from real estate closings. Craig J. Martin, 53, of Taunton, was charged in an Information with two counts of bank fraud.

  • The Information alleges that Martin, in acting as a closing attorney for real estate transactions, received mortgage loan funds from lenders, which were to be held in his attorney trust account and used for the closings.

  • As closing attorney, Martin was responsible for using the loan proceeds to pay off the existing mortgages on the properties. But instead of paying off the existing mortgages, Martin diverted at least $3,005,445 in mortgage funds to other purposes and falsified the loan closing documents to conceal his misappropriation of the funds.

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Fairhaven Attorney Charged with Fraud in Real Estate Closings.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sacramento Feds Indict Five In Upfront Fee, Fractional Interest Deed Transfer Foreclosure Rescue Racket Employing Abuse Of Bankruptcy Courts

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Sacramento, California):
  • United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that five persons had been charged in a federal indictment, [...] in connection with a foreclosure rescue scheme. The five defendants, Jewel L. Hinkles aka Cydney Sanchez, 61, of Los Angeles; Bernadette Guidry, 43, of Irvine; Jesse Wheeler, 34, of Roseville; Cynthia Corn, 58, of Oakland; and Brent Medearis, 45, of Modesto; were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on December 1, 2011. Hinkles and Guidry are charged with eight counts of mail fraud. Each of the defendants except Guidry is charged with 16 counts of bankruptcy fraud.(1)
  • The defendants allegedly told homeowners that for a substantial up-front payment and a monthly fee they would save the homeowners’ residences from foreclosure by arranging for investors to purchase their existing mortgage at a discounted price, or would reduce the homeowners’ monthly payment by negotiating a mortgage reduction with the lender.

  • The indictment alleges that contrary to the defendants’ representations, they failed to arrange for the purchase of clients’ mortgages or to negotiate reductions in the mortgage debt owed by clients.

  • To prevent foreclosure and defraud the existing lenders, the indictment alleges that the defendants filed fraudulent deeds transferring an interest in the homeowner’s property to a fictitious entity called Pacifica Group 49/II.

  • In many instances, the defendants also filed fraudulent petitions in bankruptcy court, often naming both the homeowner and Pacifica Group 49/II as the debtor. The purpose of these petitions was to invoke the automatic provisions of federal bankruptcy law that bring to an immediate halt any foreclosure actions against a debtor’s property.(2)

  • The fraudulent deeds and bankruptcy petitions delayed foreclosure proceedings, during which the defendants collected fees from defrauded homeowners. The indictment alleges that the defendants collected at least $5 million in fees from more than 1,000 clients.
For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Five Defendants Charged In Foreclosure Rescue Scheme.

(1) According to court documents, Hinkles was the founder and general manager of Horizon Property Holdings LC, located in Beverly Hills. From 2008 through 2010, Hinkles offered to the public a service called the “Save My Home” or “Homesaver” program that promised to rescue financially distressed homeowners from foreclosure and reduce the principal on homeowners’ mortgages. Guidry was Horizon’s office manager and assisted Hinkles with promoting the foreclosure and “principal reduction” program. Horizon offered its program directly to clients and also through several layers of “affiliates,” who promoted and sold the program to clients, mostly in Northern California. These affiliates included Property Relief!, operated by defendant Cynthia Corn in South San Francisco, and JW Financial Solutions, operated by defendant Jesse Wheeler in Roseville. Defendant Brent Medearis sold the program out of Modesto as an affiliate of Property Relief!.

(2) See Final Report Of The Bankruptcy Foreclosure Scam Task Force for a discussion of fractional interest deed transfer scams and other foreclosure rescue rackets involving the abuse of the bankruptcy courts.

Feds Grab Fugitive After Int'l Manhunt; Suspect Accused Of Abusing POA By Putting Disabled Man's Home, Cash Into Her Name After Victim Suffered Stroke

In Upper Gwynedd Pennsylvania, Montgomery News reports:
  • It was Thanksgiving dinner behind bars for an Upper Gwynedd woman who allegedly stole more than $300,000 from a disabled Hatfield man now that the international manhunt for her has ended.

  • Janet Gitney, 57, of the 700 block of Brian Way, was apprehended [...] at JFK International Airport in New York and immediately taken into federal custody, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Hatfield Township Police Chief Mark Toomey. Gitney had arrived at the airport from the Philippines, according to authorities.

  • On Sept. 26, Gitney was charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, securing execution of documents by deception, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and failure to make required disposition of funds received in connection with alleged incidents that occurred between January 2009 and July 2011, according to court papers.

  • Gitney, authorities alleged, utilized her power of attorney over the victim to unlawfully take control of the man’s bank accounts and even the residence he owned by having it transferred to her name without the man’s consent or authorization.

  • Gitney allegedly fled to the Philippines and Korea while she was under investigation for stealing about $100,000 in retirement funds and $222,334 in property from the disabled Hatfield man. Gitney’s passport and flight records indicated she was to return to the U.S on Oct. 14 and she failed to do so, prosecutors previously revealed.


  • On June 10, Gitney transferred the Hatfield property “from the victim to herself for no consideration,” [Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Tracey] Potere alleged in court papers.

  • At the time of the transfer, the victim was in a Lansdale area hospital after suffering another stroke in early June, court papers alleged. After the transfer of the property was completed, Gitney, as the victim’s power of attorney, arranged for the victim to be placed in a state run nursing home in Bucks County, authorities alleged.

For more, see Upper Gwynedd woman charged in $300K theft nabbed after international manhunt.

Nephew Returns To Great Britain To Face Sentencing After Abusing POA To Rip Off 93-Year Old, Dementia-Suffering Aunt Out Of Home, Cash

In Scarborough, United Kingdom, the Scarborough Evening News reports:
  • A 93-YEAR-OLD Scarborough woman was left almost destitute and reliant on the taxpayer for her care after her nephew drained her finances of £76,000, a court heard.

  • Dementia sufferer Joan Gregory moved into the St Celia’s Residential Home in Scarborough and her affairs put in the hands of her only living relative, Peter Boden.

  • However, York Crown Court heard that Boden, 63, drained her savings and attempted to sell her Scarborough flat in order to support his life in Spain.

  • Boden, who voluntarily returned to England and handed himself into the authorities with little more than £2,000 to his name, appeared for sentencing on one charge of fraud and three of theft.

  • Allan Ambrister, prosecuting, told how Boden, who has no fixed abode in this country, was granted Power of Attorney for his aunt’s finances and, over a period of time between 2008 and 2010 he moved £46,000 into his own accounts. The court heard that Boden then offered to sell Miss Gregory’s Scarborough flat to a West Yorkshire family who already owned several properties in the same block.

  • He came to an agreement with the couple to sell them the flat for £75,000. The couple paid a £25,000 cash deposit and made some of the £2,000 agreed monthly payments towards the sale price before the facts of what was going on came to light.

  • Boden had been legally advised that all monies from the flat sale should be paid into Miss Gregory’s accounts, but none ever was and all but a small amount of St Celia’s fees ever paid – the debt for her care running up to over £8,000.

For more, see Man drained aunt of £76,000 savings.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

CBS News' 60 Minutes Takes Look Into Lack Of Bankster Prosecutions In Interviews With Two Whistleblowers

CBS News' 60 Minutes reports:
  • Two whistleblowers offer a rare window into the root causes of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

  • Eileen Foster, a former senior executive at Countrywide Financial, and Richard Bowen, a former vice president at Citigroup, tell Steve Kroft the companies ignored their repeated warnings about defective, even fraudulent mortgages.

  • The result, experts say, was a cascading wave of mortgage defaults for which virtually no high-ranking Wall Street executives have been prosecuted.

For more, see Prosecuting Wall Street.

To watch the 60 Minutes' segment, see:

Nevada AG Charges Three More Notaries In Massive Criminal Robosigning Prosecution

In Las Vegas, Nevada, The Associated Press reports:
  • Three more Nevada notaries are accused of falsely attesting to legal signatures on foreclosure documents in a broad Las Vegas-area mortgage fraud scheme that has led to the indictment of two Southern California title officers, the state attorney general's office said Monday.

  • The announcement that Meghan Shaw, Jennifer Lowe and Joseph Noel each face one charge of notarizing a signature of a person not in their presence came a week after Tracy Lawrence, the first notary identified as a key witness in the so-called "robo-signing" case, was found dead at home after missing sentencing on a similar charge.

  • The charge is a gross misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Court records filed Wednesday refer to Lowe as Jennifer Bloecker.

  • Each of the three, like Lawrence, testified before a grand jury that handed up a more-than-600-count indictment accusing Geraldine Ann Sheppard, 62, of Santa Ana, Calif., and Gary Randall Trafford, 49, of Irvine, Calif., of heading a scheme that led to the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent foreclosure documents in Las Vegas between 2005 and 2008.

  • Sheppard and Trafford are employees of a publicly traded company, Lender Processing Services Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., that provides technology and services to major banks across the company. Noel formerly worked for the company.

  • The indictment alleges that Sheppard and Trafford directed employees to notarize forged signatures on documents filed with the Clark County recorder's office to begin home foreclosures.

For more, see 3 Nevada notaries named in foreclosure fraud case.

Upstate NY Sale Leaseback Peddler Gets 4 To 12 For Grand Larceny Conviction In Equity Stripping Ripoff Of Cash-Poor, Hi-Equity Homeowners In F'closure

In Albany, New York, the Albany Times Union reports:
  • Five former employees of a Colonie firm that conned property owners, banks and lenders in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme are all headed behind bars and owe millions of dollars.

  • The ex-members of the now-defunct Rivertown Investments at 1762 Central Ave. shed tears, apologized to victims and pleaded for leniency. The company's former owner denied being a criminal — and said it would be "simply impractical" to imprison him. That failed to move County Judge Stephen Herrick before a packed courtroom of victims and weeping relatives of the defendants.

  • "I see this type of fraud very close, almost to a violent offense — it's different from other kinds of fraud," said Herrick, who described the actions at Rivertown as "extremely, extremely heinous."

  • Former Rivertown owner Geoffrey Goldman, 32, of Albany, received 4 to 12 years in prison for grand larceny; his brother, Jonathan Goldman, 29, of Walden, Orange County, former vice president, received 1 1/3 to 4 years for scheming to defraud; disbarred attorney Kevin Wheatley, 39, of Waterford, the company's former in-house counsel and executive vice president, received 3½ to 10½ years for grand larceny; Jessica Peryea, 29, of Albany, a former sales director at Rivertown, received 1 to 3 years for grand larceny; and former Rivertown loan officer Jordan Laccetti, 31, of Saratoga Springs, received one year in jail for falsifying business records.

  • Geoffrey Goldman was ordered to pay more than $5.6 million in restitution, which, when paid, satisfies the total amount sought. Wheatley owes more than $5.1 million; Jonathan Goldman more than $3.5 million; Peryea more than $3 million and Laccetti $908,000.


  • The defendants solicited homeowners in financial distress to sell their homes to Rivertown. The outfit leased the homes back to the homeowners for usually 18 months under promises of net equity to be held as down payment on the repurchase of the properties.

  • But the homes were never sold back, customers were evicted and clients who repurchased homes were forced to spend thousands of dollars beyond their initial agreements.

  • Rivertown sales agents duped customers into believing the company would buy the homes while the firm actually hired straw buyers to apply for mortgages. The straw buyers would sign a "series agreement" or other documents to become members of Rivertown holding companies that received titles to the properties but never spent any money required under the deals.


  • [Judge] Herrick noted [disbarred attorney] Wheatley has expressed fears his family could lose their home. "I find that somewhat ironic," the judge said.


  • Rivertown had at least 105 lease-back properties in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey ranging in value from $112,000 to more than $2.6 million. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder.(1)

For more, see 5 get jail, owe millions in mortgage schemeFormer employees of Rivertown Investments receive sentences.

(1) At one time, many in state and local law enforcement (particularly those with untrained eyes and who were otherwise clueless in handling 'semi-sophisticated' white collar crimes - for some, anything more complex than investigating a 'rubber check' case is 'semi-sophisticated') once passed on prosecuting these sale leaseback equity stripping ripoffs that under the flimsy pretense that these cases were merely 'civil matters.' Over the last couple of years, it's been primarily the Feds (U.S. Attorneys, FBI, Secret Service, etc.) that have been bringing prosecutions in these equity stripping ripoffs. However, as this story reflects, more and more state court prosecutors now appear to be stepping up to the plate and showing some guts by bringing criminal charges against these scammers. See, for example:

See generally:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

New Jersey Foreclosures Slow To A Crawl While Lenders Wait For Ruling In Court Case Now Being Considered By State Supremes

In Newark, New Jersey, the Star Ledger reports:
  • In the nearly five months since the state Supreme Court effectively allowed six of the country’s biggest banks to begin filing foreclosures again, attorneys and court officials have been expecting a flood of new filings to hit the courts. Except it hasn’t happened.

  • Foreclosure filings are down 83 percent as of October this year, compared with the same time period last year, according to court figures, and there are at least 100,000 cases either pending in the system or waiting to be submitted.

  • Attorneys involved in the work in New Jersey point to at least one reason for the significant delay: a court case that has reached the state Supreme Court, with oral arguments on Wednesday.

  • The case, US Bank National Association v. Guillaume, is important because the court is asked to determine who must be named as a point of contact on the document that initiates the foreclosure process, known as the Notice of Intent to Foreclose. The state Fair Foreclosure Act requires identifying the lender and its contact information.

  • But because the original lender has often bundled and sold the loans to investors, the current lender lists the servicer, a third party that collects monthly payments and dispurses it to the mortgage holder. In this situation, the lender’s attorney argued it was unnecessary to name his client on the notice because the servicer had been assigned the mortgage rights.

  • Attorneys for the homeowners, Maryse and Emilio Guillaume, said listing the servicer is not sufficient, should the homeowner want to work out a solution and stay in the house, and any foreclosure judgment without the lender having been named should be voided.


  • The [New Jersey] appellate and trial courts have ruled in favor of the trust, deciding it was appropriate to list the servicer. But in August, a separate appellate panel determined in a ruling known as "the Laks decision" that the statute requires the financial institution to name the actual mortgage holder, and if it does not, the foreclosure complaint should be dismissed.

  • With its Guillaume decision, the Supreme Court is in effect resolving the conflict between the two appellate rulings. The Guillaume case was expedited through the courts, but there is no deadline for a decision.

  • And in the meantime, foreclosure filings to the court have all but ground to a halt. There are an estimated 60,000 cases pending in the courts, according to bank figures, and more in the pipeline.

For more, see Future of foreclosures in N.J. hinges on state Supreme Court decision.

HAMP Paperwork-Processing Scams Pick Up Speed As Bogus 'Experts' Come Out Of The Woodwork To Grab Cash From Unwitting Homeowners

The New York Post reports:
  • Once again, mortgage servicers are hitting ordinary New York homeowners where it hurts. The latest evidence is widespread scams tied to the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, which was supposed to help up to 4 million troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure.

  • Servicers, which manage loans day to day, have collected a cool $666 million from the government for participating in HAMP. Too bad servicers make the HAMP application process so difficult for the ordinary homeowner, they’ve opened the door to bogus “experts” who claim to help — for a big fee.

  • These cons are so out of control, the Office of the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), the Department of the Treasury, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have launched a new initiative to prevent HAMP scams at


  • The typical fraud works like this. A scam artist advertises online, pretending to be affiliated with the government. The scammers charge New Yorkers an average of $4,500 upfront, do no work, then skip out with the cash. Some borrowers are even losing their homes as a result of scammers’ advice to ignore foreclosure notices.


  • Long Island’s Nassau County is a hotbed of HAMP scams. Some scammers are former mortgage brokers and real estate executives, while others have ties to the mob.

For more, see Feds target HAMP scammers bilking owners.

The Snooze Is Over For Tarrant County Officials As Adverse Possession Home-Snatching Scams Clearly Appear On Their Radar

In Tarrant County, Texas, the Star Telegram reports:
  • While county officials were asleep at the wheel, Tarrant County became a magnet this year for an odd assortment of squatters claiming other people's houses all over the area.

  • The cast of characters includes a homeowner who scooped up a dead neighbor's house; a woman who came to Fort Worth from Memphis to lay claim to a $2.7 million mansion; people who cited Bible verses as legal justification for taking properties; and career criminals who grabbed homes to lease to tenants.

  • All told, county records show that squatters and their associates claimed more than $8 million worth of properties, from Grand Prairie, Mansfield and Arlington to Fort Worth, Haslet and Keller, according to a Star-Telegram examination of county documents. Some of the squatters' elaborate schemes have stumped law enforcement officials.

  • One Tarrant constable has even asked the Texas attorney general's office for help in straightening out the mess. "Everybody is just trying to learn what in the world is going on," said Mansfield Constable Clint C. Burgess. "It's the craziest thing how anyone could be so brazen to just break into a home and start living in it."

  • The schemes are hard to unravel because of a loophole in a state law that allows people to suddenly claim supposedly abandoned sections of property if no owner is on the spot to challenge such a claim. The law's intent was to help ranchers and others who had tended vacant land for years, so they could eventually gain legal ownership of the property. That's done by filing a document called an adverse possession affidavit with the county clerk.

  • But the law doesn't distinguish between a claim on a $27 section of sod and one on a $2.7 million mansion with an elevator, three master bedrooms, a five-car garage and a pond with fish in the back yard.

  • File the proper paperwork, pay a $16 filing fee, keep up with the property taxes and live in the house three years or more, and even the courts may not be able to evict you.

For more, see Squatters claim more than $8 million worth of Tarrant County properties.

(1) For some examples of the off-the-wall paperwork being generated in connection with these home-snatching rackets, see:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Another Investor Falls In Ongoing Mobile Federal Probe Into Foreclosure Sale Bid Rigging

From the U.S. Department of Justice:
  • A Mobile, Ala., real estate investor has agreed to plead guilty [] for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama, the Department of Justice announced.

  • Charges were filed [] in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile against Bobby Threlkeld Jr. Threlkeld was charged with one count of bid rigging to obtain selected real estate at foreclosure auctions and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

  • The department said that Threlkeld participated in a conspiracy to rig bids by agreeing to refrain from bidding against other investors at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Mobile County and its surrounding areas.

  • The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition and to make and receive payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at public foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.


  • [These] charges are the latest filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama. In addition to [these] charges, on Sept. 15, 2011, Allen K. French, Harold H. Buchman and Buchman’s company, M & B Builders LLC, were each charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama with one count of bid rigging to obtain selected real estate in southern Alabama at foreclosure auctions.

  • On the same day, M & B Builders was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. On Oct. 14, 2011, French, Buchman and M & B Builders pleaded guilty to the charges.

  • The Antitrust Division and the FBI have identified a pattern of collusive schemes among real estate investors aimed at eliminating competition at real estate foreclosure auctions, and today’s charges are part of the department’s ongoing effort to combat this conduct and restore competition to public auctions.(1)

For the U.S. Justice Department press release, see Alabama Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Rig Bids for the Purchase of Real Estate at Public Foreclosure Auctions.

(1) The investigation into fraud and bid rigging at certain real estate foreclosure auctions in Southern Alabama is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office and the FBI’s Mobile Field Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office at 404-331-7100 or visit

California AG Pinches Trio In Alleged Loan Modification Racket That Clipped Homeowners For Up To $5K In Upfront Fees For Bogus Mortgage Help

From the Office of the California Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Kamala D. Harris [] announced the arrests of three top officers of a Stockton real estate company who took thousands of dollars in up-front loan modification fees and made false promises to lower the mortgage payments of struggling Central Valley homeowners.

  • Magdalena Salas, 42, Angelina Mireles, 42, and Julissa Garcia, 36, of Stockton, were arrested today on 13 felony and two misdemeanor counts, including conspiracy, grand theft and false advertising. They are being held at the San Joaquin County Jail on $100,000 bail.


  • Salas, owner of Legacy Home Loans and Real Estate, Mireles, her twin sister, and Garcia took up-front fees of up to $5,000 from dozens of Central Valley homeowners for loan modification services that were never performed.

  • From November 2009 to August 2011, Salas and her employees circulated flyers throughout Stockton that read, in both English and Spanish: "We will save your home! Guaranteed!" and "Guaranteed new lower mortgage payments!" Along with the flyers, Legacy Home Loans ran television and radio advertisements in English and Spanish and broadcast its services on a billboard.

  • Clients of Legacy Home Loans and its related businesses - including Salas Properties, Salas Estates, Peace and Freedom Legal Services and Divinity Legal Services - were promised a full refund if they did not receive a loan modification. Many clients ended up losing their homes.

For the California AG press release, see Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrests in Stockton Foreclosure Scam.

For the criminal complaint, see People v. Salas, et al.

Lawyer Who Copped Plea To Ripping Off $730K From 11 Clients Gets Extension On Prison Deferral Deal; Judge Says He'll Serve His 1-3 Yrs No Matter What

In Westchester County, New York, The Journal News reports:
  • A disbarred real estate lawyer who was supposed to go to prison Friday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy clients got a brief reprieve in the hope he can pay more money back to his victims.

  • Bruce Mogavero, an Eastchester resident who operated out of Yonkers, was set to receive a 1- to 3-year sentence after pleading guilty to grand larceny and fraud in Westchester County Court. He now will remain free until at least Jan. 24, when he must come to court with $50,000.

  • His attorney, Andrew Rubin, promised Mogavero would pay $25,000 a month in restitution if the sentencing was delayed until April. Mogavero turned over a check for $169,350 today, which was a condition of his plea and sentencing promise.

  • Assistant District Attorney Berit Hayes-Huseby argued against the delay, saying there was no proof Mogavero could pay that monthly sum. She said Mogavero, whose original sentencing date was Oct. 25, betrayed the trust of his clients and kept them in the dark for years about where their money had gone.

  • Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea gave Mogavero about seven weeks to keep his promise and remain free through April. If he doesn't come up with the money, he'll go to prison Jan. 24.

  • Mogavero pleaded guilty to stealing from 11 clients, including a Tuckahoe homeowner and a Yonkers apartment seller, between 2008 and Jan. 1, 2011 by taking money that was supposed to stay in their escrow accounts. More victims were found this year, prosecutors said.

  • He was ordered to pay a total of $731,710, but his lawyer said about a third of that sum was a personal loan that got rolled into the restitution order. He still owes more than $550,000 to his victims.

  • In an interview with The Journal News last year, Mogavero, 55, said he borrowed the money so he could keep his business afloat to help struggling homeowners fight foreclosure.He said he helped more than 200 people stay in their homes, and had already repaid some money.

  • The judge said he was moved by the number of letters he received urging a more lenient sentence. Mogavero's family and friends packed an entire side of the courtroom during the court proceeding.However, Molea also said several of Mogavero's victims wrote letters as well, urging a harsher sentence.

  • The judge said Mogavero would serve the 1-to-3-year prison sentence, no matter what.

Source: Judge gives real estate Robin Hood more time to pay back victims.

Convicted NY Attorney Gets License Yanked For Role In Sale Leaseback, Equity Stripping Ripoff

In New York City, Reuters reports:
  • A New York attorney convicted in connection with a mortgage-fraud scheme that bilked $1.4 million from four families and two mortgage lenders was ordered disbarred this week by an appellate court.

  • Eileen Potash, 54, was found guilty by a Westchester County jury in November 2010 of conspiracy in the fourth degree. In an order published Thursday, the Appellate Division, Second Department, relied on that conviction to ban Potash from practicing law in New York.

  • Potash, who faced up to 3 years in prison, was ultimately sentenced to 5 years' probation and 180 days of community service, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's office. She was one of eight individuals charged following a nine-month mortgage-fraud investigation by the Westchester County DA and the New York State Banking Department's Criminal Investigations Bureau.

  • Five of the defendants pleaded guilty, while three, including Potash, went to trial, according to the DA's office. One of the other two defendants was acquitted, prosecutors said, and the third defendant's trial ended in a mistrial.

  • According to prosecutors, Potash and her co-defendants -- including lawyers, mortgage brokers and a husband-and-wife team posing as foreclosure-rescue specialists -- preyed on desperate property owners, convincing them to deed their homes to "investors" who would sell the homes back to them in one to two years.

  • Instead, the defendants used the homes to obtain inflated mortgage loans from two lenders, Fremont Investment and Loan and Argent Mortgage Company, by misleading the lenders about the homes' actual purchase prices, prosecutors said.

  • Potash, who did not oppose or respond to the appeals court proceeding, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Source: Appeals court disbars lawyer in $1.4 mln mortgage-fraud scheme.

For the court ruling, see Matter of Potash, 2011 NY Slip Op 08759 (App. Div. 2nd Dept. November 29, 2011) (per curiam).

Mobile Home Dealer Charged w/ Theft Now Faces Civil Suit Alleging She Never Delivered Clear Title To Would-Be Homebuyers Now Facing Foreclosure

In Rio Grande Valley, Texas, KGBT-TV Channel 4 reports:
  • Some 43 customers of La Feria’s Park Girl Mobile Homes are asking a local court to step in and protect them from foreclosure.

  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)(1) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the the customers, who are concerned about their mobile home purchases. The Park Girl owner Jo Leigh Ares remains in custody in the Cameron County Jail under $1.2 million dollars for multiple theft charges.

  • Many of the clients claim that they never received their home, were never given the title to the property or even provided with property that carried previous debts, including taxes and mortgage liens.

  • The customers are asking the court to prevent the collection of future payments, foreclosure, and the shutting off of utilities until their legal concerns are addressed. “These families came to us unclear and afraid of how this controversy would affect them,” said TRLA attorney Raul Noriega. “The legal issues go beyond holding people accountable for their actions. There are legal protections available for the victims too.”

Source: 'Park Girl' customers file lawsuit to protect against foreclosure.

For the lawsuit, see Reyes, et al. v. Ares, et al.

(1) Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) is a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to low-income residents in sixty-eight counties of Southwest Texas, and represents migrant and seasonal farm workers throughout the state of Texas and six southern states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. In addition, TRLA operates public defender programs in several Southwest Texas counties, representing the poor who are accused of felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile crimes.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Massachusetts AG Lawsuit Accuses Banksters Of Improper Foreclosures Based On Bogus Docs, MERS Of Corrupting Public Land Recording System

The New York Times reports:
  • Citing extensive abuses of troubled borrowers across Massachusetts, the state’s attorney general sued the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders on Thursday, seeking relief for consumers hurt by what she called unfair and deceptive business practices.

  • In addition to creating a new and significant legal headache for the banks named in the suit — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage — the Massachusetts action diminishes the likelihood of a comprehensive settlement between the banks and federal and state officials to resolve foreclosure improprieties. Also named as a defendant in the Massachusetts suit was the electronic mortgage registry known as MERS, an entity set up by lenders to speed property transfers by circumventing local land recording officials.

  • The attorney general, Martha Coakley, and her investigators contend that the banks improperly foreclosed on troubled borrowers by relying on fraudulent legal documentation or by failing to modify loans for homeowners after promising to do so. The suit also contends that the banks’ use of MERS “corrupted” the state’s public land recording system by not registering legal transfers properly.

  • There is no question that the deceptive and unlawful conduct by Wall Street and the large banks played a central role in this crisis through predatory lending and securitization of those loans,” Ms. Coakley said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “The banks may think they are too big to fail or too big to care about the impact of their actions, but we believe they are not too big to have to obey the law.”

  • Ms. Coakley has been among the most aggressive state regulators in her pursuit of financial institutions involved in the credit crisis. In addition to her inquiry into foreclosure improprieties in Massachusetts, she has also conducted far-reaching investigations into predatory lending and securitization abuses.

For more, see Massachusetts Sues 5 Major Banks Over Foreclosure Practices.

See also: The Boston Globe: State sues five big US lenders (AG alleges banks skirted rules, sped foreclosures).

For the Massachusetts AG press release, see Five National Banks Sued by AG Coakley in Connection with Illegal Foreclosures and Loan Servicing (First Comprehensive Lawsuit to Address Foreclosure Crisis Seeks to Hold Banks Accountable For Illegal and Deceptive Conduct).

For the lawsuit, see Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Bank of America, N.A., et al.

Banksters' Ripoffs Now Extend To Homestead Exemption Fraud; Retain Tax Benefits On Foreclosed Homes Originally Claimed By Former Owners

In Providence, Rhode Island, GoLocalProv reports:
  • Banks and other lenders have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on foreclosed homes in Providence, thanks to tax breaks that were intended to help homeowners, according to data obtained by GoLocalProv.

  • This year, 44 banks and other companies have foreclosed on just over 341 properties in Providence, as of September. But those banks retained owner-occupied homestead exemptions on about 200 of those properties.

  • In all, the exemptions—some as high as 50 percent—saved those banks about $422,615 on their 2011 tax bills, a GoLocalProv review of city data found.

  • To Brenda Clement, executive director of the Housing Action Coalition of Rhode Island, the exemptions were blatantly unfair: “You shouldn’t be getting an exemption if you’re not a homeowner,” she told GoLocalProv.

  • Six figure savings for big banks Those banks that racked up the most savings in exemptions are some of the biggest names in the mortgage industry. Topping the list were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage giants that are government-sponsored companies.

  • Fannie Mae got a $121,722 in tax breaks on 61 properties it had foreclosed as of this month. Had it been billed at the full 2011 tax rate of $30.38 per $1,000 in value, the company would have owed an additional $121,000 in taxes.

  • Freddie Mac saw its total tax bill sawed nearly in half, owing $53,124, instead of the $101,582 it would have had to pay without the homestead exemption.

For more, see Banks Cash in on Foreclosures in Providence.

Maryland AG Issues Cease & Desist Order Against Alleged Loan Modification Racket

In Baltimore, Maryland, Legal Newsline reports:
  • Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced on Thursday that he has issued a cease and desist order against an allegedly unlicensed lawyer and his business for illegally providing professional services.

  • Corey W. Hankerson and his business, The Equity Law Group LLC, allegedly preyed on consumers by offering legal assistance and credit services when Hankerson was not licensed as a lawyer or as a credit services professional.

  • "Offering legal assistance or credit services without a license exploits those consumers who find themselves in trouble and desperate for help," Gansler said. "The licensing and registration requirements are there to ensure consumers spend their hard-earned money on getting the help they need from legitimate professionals."

  • Hankerson allegedly charged consumers who were facing severe financial problems and foreclosures for supposedly providing loan modifications and legal representation in bankruptcy proceedings. He allegedly charged consumers thousands of dollars but provided them little or no services.

For more, see Gansler says lawyer not licensed.

Hawaii Regulator Files Suit Claiming Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices In Alleged Loan Modification Ripoff

In Honolulu, Hawaii, HawaiiNewsNow reports:
  • State consumer protection officials are going after a Village Park woman whom they say preyed upon a struggling homeowner. They say it's the first time they have filed a lawsuit in Honolulu Circuit Court under a Hawaii law designed to protect people who are facing foreclosure.

  • Consumer protection officials previously filed a similar suit on Maui. They're hoping the legal actions send a strong message to others serving as mortgage rescue consultants.

  • According to the state Office of Consumer Protection, Lucy Cablay committed mortgage rescue fraud by falsely promising relief to a distressed homeowner on Oahu.


  • The state accuses Cablay of engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices while working as a Hawaii runner for a company operating out of Texas. The state's attorney says Cablay convinced the woman to pay an up-front fee of $3,450 to Caughern & Associates which, in turn, delivered a $600 kick-back for Cablay.

  • "The ultimate end of that was that there were no mortgage rescue services, so she was out the money that she paid her," Kim said.

For more, see State files suit against woman accused of preying upon distressed homeowner.