The Register of Deeds of South Essex County, Mass. is waging war on the banks over predatory lending and mortgage fraud (via Total Mortgage).John O’Brien’s case hinges on the fact that the MERS system set up to expedite the bundling of mortgage backed securities skirted numerous local transaction fees.
O’Brien figures his town lost as much as $22 million in revenue since 1998. To get some of it back he commissioned an audit of 2010 mortgage assignments.
- 16% of the assignments were valid, 75% were invalid, and 9% were deemed questionable.
- Of those that are invalid, 27% were fraudulent, 35% showed evidence of robo-signing, and 10% violated the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
- The proper owner of the mortgages could only be determined 60% of the time.
In a release by his office O’Brien said:
“This evidence has made it clear to me that the only way we can ever determine the total economic loss and the amount damage done to the taxpayers is by conducting a full forensic audit of all registry of deeds in Massachusetts. I suspect that at the end of the day we are going to find that the taxpayers have been bilked in this state alone of over 400 million dollars not including the accrued interest plus costs and penalties. The Audit makes the finding that this was not only a MERS problem, but a scheme also perpetuated by MERS shareholder banks such Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and others. I am stunned and appalled by the fact that America’s biggest banks have played fast and loose with people’s biggest asset – their homes. This is disgusting, and this is criminal.“
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