Robo-Signing Returns, Raising Eyebrows and Acid Reflux
Oppenheim Law would never accuse the banks of committing fraud, perjury, impersonation, notary fraud, contempt of court, lying, violating Constitutional protections, or being tax cheats. Nevertheless, we do make this advisory: Be careful of what you sign.
As soon as you think the coast is clear, it’s the return of the robo-signers.
Suspected robo-signed documents are cropping up again in county deed records, according to the Associated Press. These new documents suggest the previous document mill scandals are part of an endemic problem at banks, not a one-off affair like the banks would have you believe.
In explaining the document mill scandals, banks claimed they were crushed by a gigantic amount of paperwork. It was while attempting to deal with such a large amount of paperwork that “mistakes” were made, according to the banks. Such claims are now being met with a raised eyebrow.
Registrars in several states have reported seeing suspicious documents. But now, the banks can’t claim they are under a mountain of paperwork: foreclosures, sales, and refinances are all at lower levels than they were in the past several years. Most of the documents under suspicion now are not even related to foreclosures. Rather, they mostly deal with new home purchases and refinances.
The banks are even using some of the exact same names heavily publicized when the scandals first broke like Linda Green and Crystal Moore. Such behavior points to an industry that sees itself as untouchable: too big to fail and too big to be regulated.
The proposed settlement between the banks and the states includes no criminal charges. Critics say that such slaps on the wrists only foster a culture of impunity, and they appear to be right.
This doesn’t mean some are not trying to fight back. The Michigan state attorney general filed criminal subpoenas against several mortgage servicers after 23 counties filed complaints. John O’Brien, the registrar of Essex County in Massachusetts, and Jeff Thigpen, the registrar of Guilford County, North Carolina, have both refused to accept documents suspected of being robo-signed. Mr. O’Brien even demanded a signed affidavit from Bank of America after he received several documents signed Linda Burton, another name that popped up in connection with the document mill scandal. Bank of America refused to handover the affidavit, and instead resent the paperwork signed by someone else. According to Mr. O’Brien, such behavior is evidence of “consciousness of guilt” on behalf of the bank.
Just like acid reflux, robo-signing doesn’t seem like it’s going away without a fight!