Philadelphia, PAGot to hand it to attorney John Narkin. He's got this foreclosure crisis thing figured out—well, near as anyone can figure it out. The 113-page class-action suit on behalf of distressed homeowners filed by Narkin's firm, BHN Law in Philly, lays out the whole sorry story in amazing detail, complete with links to video clips.
In addition to demanding that well-known culprits in the lending business pay up for the pain they caused, BHN also comes down hard on a law firm that worked with Wells Fargo, N.A., Countrywide, and others. It describes the firm in the documents filed as "a foreclosure mill" with a Gordon Gecko "greed is good" attitude.
"Obviously this is a national disgrace," says Narkin, whose firm specializes in hunting down boogie men involved in everything from securities fraud to consumer protection law.
"The tentacles of the foreclosure mess are amazing," says Narkin. "The mess created by predatory lending is one thing, but consider also what an awful investment collateralized debt lending turned out to be."
Narkin's firm has devoted hundreds of hours to a class-action complaint that alleges that Countrywide, Wells Fargo and a "high-volume law firm," Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg, engaged in fraudulent schemes to collect inflated and manufactured foreclosure fees from financially troubled families in danger of losing their homes.
Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg are fighting the allegations.
The class action outlines the situation as applied to several families, including Charles Giles and his wife. Giles is a first responder with serious health problems that make him unable to work.
"He was on the short end of one of these foreclosure actions," says Narkin. "The foreclosure action was brought by Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg in the name of Wachovia. But Wachovia had transferred all legal ownership two years prior to this action, and a falsified mortgage assignment was used to establish or attempt to establish standing."
"This whole thing nearly destroyed Charles Gilles," says Narkin. "He was forced to sell his house at far below its actual price. This was a situation where he was told they were trying to work out a deal for him and then he ended up facing a foreclosure and sheriff's sale."
The Giles finally hired another lawyer to help them. Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg sent the Giles a bill for legal expenses in excess of $7,000.
You don't make serious allegations against another law firm unless you think you're right, and Narkin clearly believes the law will ultimately reveal itself to be favourable to the plaintiffs.
The class action is in fact an appeal of a lower court's ruling of a narrower complaint that Narkin argues was dismissed on a technicality involving US bankruptcy laws that the suit argues is unrelated to the more serious allegations.
The suit asks for an injunction to prevent Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg from engaging in further foreclosure procedures and seeks damages for injuries sustained by the homeowners due to violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act (RICO), and violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).
Narkin's clients are seeking both statutory and actual damages (which allows for treble damages under RICO), as well as the costs of the suit and reasonable attorney fees.
John Narkin is a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Law and New York University. He has been an integral part of the successful prosecution of numerous class actions on behalf of consumers and investors. In 1992, Narkin was invited to the White House to discuss reforms of the federal rules governing shareholder class actions. Narkin is known as an outstanding brief writer whose work has led to numerous multi-million dollar suits.
If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a financial lawyer who may evaluate your FORECLOSURE CRISIS claim at no cost or obligation.
I have my own story and could write about the 12+months it took my servicer to offer me several settlements before I accepted. I was current under the terms of my mortgage with proof of paying my actual mortgage & escrow amount on time. I received from my servicer several"Dear Homeowner, We realize you are behind on your mortgage..." letters. I ignored the 1st handful and finally called my servicer to inquire why I was receiving these apparent xerox copied letters addressed to: Homeowner, at my full address. I called the number on my servicer's monthly statement, NOT the # which was stated on these letters (even though my acct # & address was listed). My servicer said they would transfer me to that dept (?), but was informed by my servicer to call the number on the statement
should the phone transfer not go through. So this told me that these "Dear Homeowner" letters were legitimate and prompted in some fashion by my servicer to be sent to me (even though I was in total compliance with my mortgage contract). The woman who answered wanted all the usual: name, acct #, last 4 of ssn, etc for verification. She also asked if I lived in the home and had I planned to stay in it. I answered YES to both but also questioned the need for her to know. She said it was just standard that she ask. I thought no harm; no fowl. Then I asked why I was receivimg these letters from her dept at my servicer. She said she could kower my payment through a modification. I told her I was somewhat familiar with those as many months before I thought I may need one during a long illness but in the end did not and although several months ago I was late sending 2 payments, I was over my illness and working fulltime. I also said that even if I did need a modification, I had read the requirements before and my total mortgage payment only made up 24-28% of my NET income and less than 15-17% using my GROSS as the marker. I told her that as you can see my payment is X amount but I usually send in X+($50 to $250) in order to get my home paid off early. I said in fact I mailed my next scheduled payment today -5 business days before my due date of the 1st. I told her in fact I had again mailed more than what was due and as usual had requested the extra paid on pricincipal. She asked how much in total I had sent and I told her. She started with the modification spiel again and that she could get my payment DOWN to the amount I had told her I had just sent. I said why would I want to raise my minimum payment when now I have the OPTION to send in extra only if I wanted as sometimes I didn't: November & December I didn't send extra for holiday reasons. She wouldn't stop talking about the benefits of getting me into a modification and how it would lower my payment to the amount I had just mailed (which was about $242 MORE than I needed to pay to fulfill my mortgage contract). She seemed to pause in talking when I would speak but did not reply to my statements. It was as though she was reading off of a script and I felt like I was at a car dealership and trying to be "Hard Sold" on a car I had no desire to purchase. Her adamant attitude about getting me into a modification and seemingly ignoring my several polite "No, thank you's", caused me to realize she was not going to stop forcing the issue unless I impolitely just hung up or told her sign me up. I was NEVER going to ask her to sign me up, it is not in my nature to just hang up, so I compromised and said (after 40+minutes on the call) said politely, can you just send me a pamphlet or something with the information so I can look over it as I have to end thiscall and pick up my children from school. She said sure and would send it asap. She did that.I think I got it wothon 3 days. However, it was an actual modification contract and I noticed that my "trial" payment amount was $242 mote than my monthy payment: it was the amount I had told her I had just mailed. It was a large packet. I noticed it was in a contract-like form and the top page (tne only page I looked at to be honest) required my signature agreeing to a trial modification with payments of X+$242. Instead of the trash can I put it in a drawer that hold my paperwork. That turned out to be a blessing. The next month I sent in my scheduled payment plus $242. This made my payment an even amount and the reason $242 was prevalent when paying extra. However, tje following month was November and per usual I only sent in the scheduled payment amount and nothing extra. I was out of checks and it would take 10 days to receive a box (too late to send my payment on time) and leary of online payments of any kind, my small credit union suggested a money order as it was far less to buy that getting a certified check from them. So off to the post office I go. I had never seen a money order before but was assured by the postal worker it was as negotiable as sending a cashier's check. I bought it with cash as required plus a $1 fee. The M.O. was unusual looking to me and didn't contain my stamped check information so for $3-4 dollars suggesteI bought a return receipt with signature required. I felt more comfortable doing this.I filled in the pay to and from sections of the M.O., added my mortgage acct # & Nov.1st payment under the RE:/memo line. I filled inthe TO: as my servicer and the address where my payment was sent. I put it in the envelope, filled out the return receipt and added a certificate of mailing for .50. The postman commented you really dont need this with a return receipt signature required form you already have, but I said for .50 I wanted proof it was sent in case my servicer doesn't sign or have some to sign the return receipt. Nonetheless,I received my g reen return receipt and my servicer had received it by Nov. 1st. On the 19th of November, I received in the mail that I was in default of my modification agreement because I had not sent in the requested documents and also received my money order back. I remember the date distinctly as I was taking several young teens to see a midnight showing of a popular vampire love story movie. I sat in the car trying to figure out what was going on by cell phone internet as I had only checked the mail around 10pm and my servicer was closed. I now had a letter stating my previous 2 payments plus the returned November M.O. were not even credited to my account. The first 2 were in a "holding acct" until my modification was approved. I live in GA a non-judicial foreclosure state (which needs to be changed so that EVERY STATE IS JUDICIAL WHEN IT COMES TO FORECLOSURES. IF ANY OTHER CREDITOR SUES YOU FOR NON PAYMENT, THEY HAVE TO SERVE THE BORROWER WITH COURT DOCUMENTS STATING IN A PETITION/MOTION THAT THEY ARE FORMALLY REQUESTING THE AMOUNT OWED AND YOU ALSO HAVE A COURT DATE IN WHICH YOU CAN DISPUTE THE AMOUNT OR NOT. AT LEAST YOU HAVE THE RIGHT FOR A JUDGE TO VALIDATE the owed amount. You don't have to go to the hearing, but obviously you will lose. At least you have that option. What if a creditor didn't even have to have a judge look at the evidence and make a verdict that either the plaintiff/creditor was correct or the defendent/borrower was correct or that the actual amount was less than the plaintiff stated. What if any creditor be it bank, credit card, business, individual could just file a paper saying you owe X amount and ypu were given no notice and a judge DID NOT EVEN HAVE TO KNOW that a creditor was requesting and was legally automatically given the right to freeze your banl account to get their allegedly owed money or ask your employer to garnish your wages for whatever sum they want? Scammers would be freezing accts and garnishing wages or taking personal property like a car, boat, etc even if they werent collateral for any loans. I could legally sell your car while it sits at your home at an auction to the highest bidder and never need to prove or even show you owed a dime on anything. Someone buys your car for $50 buts its worth is ten times the amount. After the sale the bid winner can actually get the sheriff to accompany him/her to your house and they can tow your car away...all while you were not given the option to make this creditor prove you owe them anything. Basically, the court gives them the benefit of the doubt and nothing legally is really involved until the sheriff stands by while your car is towed away. That is how non-judicial foreclosures states
Posted by unhappy camper
If you are having problems with your mortgage servicing agent please do the following: 1. Document every phone call and send all correspondence in writing asking for a RESPA "Qualified Written Request". Do not play games trying to negotiate over the phone, they will just stall you. If you do talk with them over the phone always record the call (and let the other party know you are recording the calls). Ask for every demand for money in writing from them. Contact your local Atty General's office in your state and Dept of Finance. Also contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as the FTC to complain about debt collection practices. Document, document, document everything that happens. Keep well, keep calm, be professional and polite, good will prevail over evil.
Posted by George
CORRECTION: word PROPERTY
You see, its a matter of a quick process the Servicing banks want to achieve in order to get the PROPERTY in there possession. The crazy thing is, when the originating bank gives the loan, and then sells it to the 2nd bank which mostly ends up being the servicer, they sell it to the 2 major players (Freddie & Fannie) and they sell the mortgage back securities to investors. So the servicing bank gets paid for the mortgage and still collects payments toward the mortgage and a percentage goes to the Servicer, Fannie & Freddie and the Investor. So they are all making money. Then the Servicing bank comes to foreclose and if they are allowed to foreclose, they get the home without true ownership, even though the loan is actually sold off into bits and pieces. I can go on further, but to conclude, if this were a murder case, I would call this act of the banks premeditated, not an accident. This was all planned out in order to reach the highest profit they could using the mortgage backed securities as a commodity, and have total disregard, deliberately, intentionally ruining the lives of millions of homeowners.
Posted by George Mirkov
Years back the banks began to turn a mortgage into a commodity, with good paying mortgages, then they saw they were running out of this commodity, so the big banks, including Fannie & Freddie started giving out loans to almost anyone and everyone, not so much to just give that person a home to have, but they were more concerned about creating more of the commodity. More securities to sell to investors. They even knew some home owners would not last several years or several months, as long as they could say to investors, "Hey, we have more mortgage backed securities to sell”.
Now, to sell all these securities, they would have to create a mortgage assignment which is normally recorded with the county land recorders office. Physically, that would take up too much time and would cost filing fees paid to each county for each transaction, so the big banks invented and created MERS,(Mortgage Electronic Registration System)This electronic service was only created to track mortgages sold and bought in the securities sector. MERS legally has no invested interest in the mortgage so they truly are not able to transfer the mortgage acting as a nominee of the loan. But they are and it is Wrong! The chain of title of the mortgage is broken right here at this very early stage. Now that the mortgage was bundled and sold and bought to investors, no actual assignment is recorded with the county local recorders office. By not recording these documents, Fannie & Freddie & and all your Big Mortgage Servicing Banks are saving millions-billions on recording fees, taxes, etc.
What I have found was, the Servicer is listed with the county recorders office as if they own the mortgage, while Fannie & Freddie are selling the mortgage as securities. Kind of like a Pizza shop cooking pizza legitimately up front, and a mobster selling off investments in the back. (Racketeering). So when the Servicer now tries to foreclose on a homeowner, they are not truly the owner of the loan/note, and you have to own the loan/note to foreclose! Many never even question the Servicer and walk away from their home. Now to foreclose as quick as they can, that’s where the robo-signers come in. These people do not check anything about the loan, but only sign a name on an affidavit page on thousands of mortgages to get the foreclosure going before any homeowners begin to catch on. This is considered perjury and fraud on the face of the court.
You see, its a matter of a quick process the Servicing banks want to achieve in order to get the mortgage in there possession. The crazy thing is, when the originating bank gives the loan, and then sells it to the 2nd bank which mostly ends up being the servicer, they sell it to the 2 major players (Freddie & Fannie) and they sell the mortgage back securities to investors. So the servicing bank gets paid for the mortgage and still collects payments toward the mortgage and a percentage goes to the servicer, Fannie & Freddie and the Investor. So they are all making money. Then the Servicing bank comes to foreclose and if they are allowed to foreclose, they get the home without true ownership, even though the loan is actually sold off into bits and pieces. I can go on further, but to conclude, if this were a murder case, I would call this act of the banks premeditated, not an accident. This was all planned out in order to reach the highest profit they could using the mortgage backed securities as a commodity, and have total disregard, deliberately, intentionally ruining the lives of millions of homeowners.
Posted by DL
I did a refy on my home in 2003 to consolidate a first and second mortgage after my Wife suffered a brain anuryism.
The loan ended up costing me 10,000 in closing fees yet I only needed 82% of the LTV and I had good, good credit, then.
Countrywide table funded this mortgage through Pacific Republic Mortgage (PRM no longer exists) and then securitized it into one of its own CWMBS's.
Anyhow, same old story, sought help from CW's loss mitigation dept, disguised as the work-out dept. and while I was suppose to be getting help CW was foreclosing on my property.
I have managed, somehow, to hold them off for 55 months now. Through 3 foreclosure filings in a non-judicial state first with CW and now with BAC who, of course, bought CW back in 2008.
No legal assignments of the note although 3 of them appear on a blank page attached to the note without dates or verification but absolutely nothing has ever been filed with my local County Trustee.
UBS (formely UBS Warburg Real Estate Investments, Inc.) out of Switzerland is allegedely the beneficiary of all this, what a joke.
To everyone I say "Keep up the fight, keep up the pressure, we are gaining ground and no matter how many times the powers to be blame this on us, the homeowners, the truth is that these Banks to big to fail did not come to the table with clean hands in the first place.
I'm in Colorado and not to much is taking place, not so as you'd notice, but the reality is something different. Can't get lawyers here to get involved, unless you've got large amounts of cash and not much public attention either.
I've been pro se since my BK filing in 2007 but don't know how much longer I can hold on, till I die I guess.
Good luck to all...
Posted by Roger Rinaldi
Here in Wisconsin Wells Fargo operates in the county courthouse with the help of the judges who "refuse to give anyone a free house". It doesn't matter who the creditor is, as far as these judges are concerned. "If you didn't pay, YOU'RE OUT!". THE RULE OF LAW IS EXCEPTED FOR THE BIG NATIONAL BANK SECURITIZERS. And the rule of law is also suspended for national law firms hired to protect the banks from predatory lending and servicing claims.
Fraudulent affidavits submitted to Maryland Secretary of State, Notary division, are discarded, all the while notaries are pleading the "fifth amendment" in court for document fraud. Foreclosures are directed by the FDIC on behalf of undisclosed creditors (hedge funds) even though said creditors are 3rd party debt collectors without any security interest in the real estate. Our government is standing by and watching the citizenry become homeless to protect the "too-big-to-fail" national banks: Wells Fargo, Chase, Citibank, Ally (GMAC), US Bank, and their european counterparts Deutsche, HSBC, UBS.
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