We’ve been giving examples off and on about how servicers scam borrowers. Examples include impermissibly deducting fees before applying payments to interest and principal; force placed insurance, inflated prices on and excessive frequency of broker price opinions, and in altogether too many cases, treating payments that are on time as late. What many observers fail to appreciate is that these are tantamount to scamming investors. If a borrower goes into default, any bogus charges will be deducted from the sale of the house, and hence come out of investors’ hides.
Lisa Epstein of Foreclosure Hamlet is a mortgage document maven and has been looking extensively at investor reports and compared them to court documents and has found serious discrepancies. Her research shows that servicers are not only taking advantage of borrowers but are also scamming investors.
Lisa looked into a Countrywide trust (CWALT 2008-oc8) with Bank of America as the servicer, in part because it is the focus of an important case in Florida, Pino versus Bank of New York. She determined that despite the fact that the case had been satisfied in July 2011, it was still being included as of January 2012 in the monthly investor report. That means Bank of America is still charging servicing fees on it, and likely other fees (late fees, periodic broker price opinions, etc).
And she found that the Pino loan is not alone in having court records show that the property has been sold (ie, the trust is clearly no longer holding the mortgage), yet is still reported as an asset of the trust. From 4closureFraud (emphasis original):
Our research has uncovered other non-existent “assets” on the books of this trust. To put this in perspective, at the origination of this trust there were 6,734 loans of which 61 were originated in Palm Beach County. As of the Jan 2012 investor report, 29 of the original 61 Palm Beach County loans remain on the trusts’ books. Only ONE is performing as originally contracted at closing. Three others have been modified; one has a $39k forbearance, one has a $8k added to principal, one has $16k added to principal. The other 25 loans are non-performing. (As of Jan 2012 report, total left in the trust 2,921; of the 2,921 left 1,187 are non-performing (delinquent = 237, bankruptcy 188, foreclosure = 512, REO = 250) but we know this data isn’t correct, so….)
Some “non-existent” loan examples from the trust
Roman Pino loan #130133456 – $162,400 – (July 2011 satisfaction – still on the books in Jan 2012 trust report in “foreclosure” status) [3764 Mil Run Court, Greenacres, FL 33463] – BoA monthly servicing fee for non-existent mortgage $50.73
Samantha Woodruff loan #130521936 – $171,940 – (Sept 2011 deed from trust REO to new buyer – still on the books in Jan 2012 trust report in “REO” status) [1497 Lake Crystal Drive D, West Palm Beach, FL 33411] BoA monthly servicing fee for non-existent mortgage $33.70
Robert Rodriguez loan #130450231 – $176,542 – (Sept 2011 short sale deed & Nov 2011 satisfaction – still on the books in Jan 2012 trust report in “REO” status) [1139 Lake Terry Drive 60L, West Palm Beach, FL 33411] WOW – BoA monthly servicing fee for non-existent mortgage $181.69
Elsa Castillo Rivas loan #130445815 – $375,000 – (July 2011 short sale deed) – remained on books through Dec 2011 in “REO” status), finally reported as “liquidated” in Jan 2012 report [13918 Preacher Chapman Place, Centreville, VA]. WOW – BoA monthly servicing fee for non-existent mortgage $328.04
This is just a small example of what we are uncovering. If we learned anything from the robosigning scandal, if there are more than two “irregularities,” there are thousands.
More examples from other trusts to come.
We feel comfortable saying that this is widespread…
Investors have told me they’ve seen signs of even more gross abuses, such as servicers treating fees as credit losses. But this sort of remark in a way shows investors suffer from the same agency problems as servicers, who have no reason to do a good job but instead are motivated to game a complex system of fees. Institutional investors are running other people’s money and therefore have no incentive to crack down on miscreant servicers (they feel it is not their job, plus if any one investor were to take this issue on, the rest of the industry would free ride on his work).
So no wonder we only have isolated and very dedicated individuals chipping away at this looting. Everyone else appears to be part of the problem.