Wells Fargo Finds Foreclosure “Lapses” in 55,000 Current Cases

We criticized Wells for falsely claiming in briefings in Washington DC that it did not have robo signers when there were already depositions in the public domain to the contrary. In these same presentations, Wells claimed to be a good operator, free of the sort of lapses at other servicers that were generating bad press.

Wells was shown to be a liar on the first count, and amusingly in a prominent venue. In a weird bit of cosmic justice, the very next day, the Financial Times ran a first page story on the Wells use of robo signers.

The second shoe dropping, the general lapses in Wells’ foreclosures, has taken more time to come to light, and this time, they are by the bank’s own admission. However, as has proven to be the pattern with all the major parties in the foreclosure process, Wells is claiming that needing to file additional documentation in 55,000 cases is no big deal and of course that nothing really is amiss.

It will be interesting to see what local courts make of this. If any of these new filings contradict previously provided evidence (and by definition, a replacement of a robo signed affidavit is an admission the earlier submission was improper, hence a fraud on the court; the new affidavits may also change substantive information), they may encounter resistance from judges. My guess is that while few judges would dismiss cases with prejudice (meaning the parties to the case could not try to foreclose again), Wells could in some situations be required to file a new foreclosure action from scratch.

From Bloomberg:

Wells Fargo & Co., conceding that some foreclosure affidavits “did not strictly adhere to the required procedures,” said it will file supplemental statements to courts in about 55,000 proceedings….. The bank will begin filings in 23 states immediately and aims to complete them by mid-November, subject to local laws, according to the statement.

“The issues the company has identified do not relate in any way to the quality of the customer and loan data,” the San Francisco-based lender said in the statement. “Nor does the company believe that any of these instances led to foreclosures which should not have otherwise occurred.”….

“The company has identified instances where a final step in its processes relating to the execution of the foreclosure affidavits (including a final review of the affidavit, as well as some aspects of the notarization process) did not strictly adhere to the required procedures,” it said in the statement.

Wells Fargo has assigned 160 employees in four offices to be part of the review, said Teri Schrettenbrunner, a spokeswoman for the company, in a phone intervie

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    1. charley

      Little by little this crisis is acting like a bracing shower after a night of hard drinking and rough love.

      This is like waking up and discovering the entire history of your own life is a Matrix-like illusion. It is not simply worse than you cynically imagine, it is worse than you could imagine…

      What is not a fraud??

  1. Small Business Guy

    Ok, basic math says 55000/160 = 343.75 cases per person.

    So, let’s say we have a maximum of 8 weeks (probably 2 weeks too many) to get it all functional by January First, but let’s be charitable…

    That’s 42.97 cases per week per person. At 8 hours per day, 5 days a week, that works out to processing 1.074 cases per hour.

    I want to see the title searcher who’s capable of putting out that type of work quality (maybe it should be “work quality”) necessary to satisfy rightly dubious judges, and maintain that quality of work for 8 straight weeks, knowing that all they have got to do is to screw up once and they could end up in front of the court being ‘Topic 1’ for the day, or even week.

    And now Wells can magically pull 160 of these folks together out of a hat (they probably went out and bought a small Title company or a Cadastral Mapping company). If they didn’t, I’d bet half of them can’t even read legal descriptions any more complex than a straight Lot/Block in a subdivision.

    Looks to me like they are just blowing smoke…

    1. Dave of Maryland

      You missed a detail. Wells says it wants it all done by mid-November.

      Presuming that’s three weeks of 5 day weeks, that’s 22.9167 cases per person, per day.

      The party continues . . .

  2. dejavuagain

    Wells Fargo still needs to get to the next level of awareness. The problem, as Yves well notes, is not just the affidavits, it it the facts behind the affidavits.

    Fact one – is the need to have the full chain of assignments signed and notarized back to the actual owner. [I ignore here the REMIC tax issue.] Both the mortgages and notes require assignments, in general

    Fact two – the actual owner then may turn out to be a Trust. Then the foreclosure needs to be done in the name of the Trust.

    Fact three – in most cases the trust is a NY trust, and in many states, before bringing a suit, the trust must qualify to do business in the state – and this could mean taxes.

    Solution for Well Fargo – you need 1000 people working on this.

    Were I a judge, I would tell the foreclosers:

    First, I will only entertain plaintiffs with a recorded interest in the mortgage, and, that must be the actual owner. So, no recording, no case.

    Second, with the filing, the plaintiff must attach a certified copy of the original note showing assignment to the mortgagee – this must be a facsimile of the original note. The attorney filing the case must personally affirm that the original note has been in his/her hands and is stored in a vault in the law firm. This facsimile of the original note must be an attachment to the foreclosure complaint. No note – well, go to the back of the line. No foreclosure on lost note affidavits until the dockets are clear, and then there will be a hearing on each lost note, and the custodian must show up in court and explain in person to the judge why the note was lost, under oath.

    Third, on the day I render the foreclosure judgment, the attorney must show up in court with the actual note, which I will then endorse on behalf of the court. If the attorney fails to do so, $5000 fine. If not provided in one week, case dismissed with prejudice and the mortgage declared void.

    Uh – that would clean up things fast.

  3. Cedric Regula

    I’m hoping that states can at least bill for additional court time for doing everything twice.

    But shouldn’t this trigger a recall on already closed foreclosures? Like if an daffydavit is kinda like a Toyota gas pedal, I mean. And then WF wants to sell it to someone else, after expunging the VIN number, license plates, and make and model.

  4. Dave of Maryland

    Why not cut to the chase?

    Why can’t people being foreclosed simply file for quiet title & do an end run?

  5. Dan

    If fraud on the court is not going to be prosecuted (paging Eric Holder…), then the banks are just going to view this as an efficient breach situation.

    So what if all the foreclosures all fraudulent? Sue us! We will gladly pay our lawyers with some of that extra money we get from the FDIC by pretending we don’t have to follow the same laws as individual human beings.

  6. kravitz

    Some executives from Wells was at they hairdresser, and realized they’s be also talkin to they notary.

    1. kravitz

      seriously though, a woman from BofA was on Bloomberg Radio tonight, and suggested the banks actually needed more stimulus money if they will be made to deal with fixing this mess. perhaps the money should just go to the homeowners this time because of statements like hers.

      1. F. Beard

        perhaps the money should just go to the homeowners this time because of statements like hers. kravitz

        Bingo! And it would fix the banks too.

  7. Revolutionary Leftists

    This is just class war, plain and simple. Foreclosures were always a part of “ghetto” life, but it’s more widespread now, but the media and Government are working hard to silence things. Keep in mind, the recent uptick in “bad paperwork” is coming after years of subprime/prime marks being tossed out of their homes. It’s chilling, this quiet attrition, almost convinces the average Joe that they are no where near enough radical as is now warranted, as a measure of defense.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Are you kidding? There’s no class war to see here, folks, because it takes at least two adversaries to fight a war and so far only one has shown up.

      1. kravitz

        now as for those investors just now waking up to the fact the banks have been charging the cases they lose and fines they receive to the investors, rather than absorbing the loss. it’s like the Upper East Side suing Wall Street for making them rich…and then find Wall Street owes ’em more money.

        1. Cedric Regula

          Once the servicer can no longer bill the trust fund for extraordinary servicing of the loan(they will want to offset the interest prepayments they make to the trust funds until they recoup foreclosure proceeds-keeps everyone happy), the real note holder will appear and want their money back in full, and a lawyer representing the displaced, most probably deadbeat, homeowner will want the house back for his client.

          All I can see is triple damages being awarded against the MBS investor.

  8. alplouis

    None of these Fraudsters will be prosecuted, it’s business as usual. Congress will soon legislate a law to legalize this massive fraud. And oh by the way, where’s the people’s top cop “Elizabeth Warren”?

    1. svsm

      Sheila Bair floated it already as part of the “global solution”.

      “The chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recently suggested a solution to the on-going mortgage and foreclosures scandal. FDIC Chair Sheila Bair proposed that the banks involved would be granted “legal protection from lawsuits” in exchange for granting struggling homeowners a minimum of 25 percent reduction in monthly mortgage payments”

      1. Receiver

        Bair was seen as a savvy regulator, sort of an oppositional force to that crook John Dugan. She helped BOA get some of their TARP loot when she bought her next castle with a Jumbo loan from said institution, Nothing should infuriate Americans more then the total sell-out of agencies to their corporate masters. Let them exploit, let them steal, let them drive people into the ground,
        Can Dugan imagine his stuff thrown on the street while his family and children look on in tears?

        1. Receiver

          “Sheila Bair, one of the chief regulators overseeing Bank of America’s federal rescue, took out two mortgages worth more than $1 million from the banking giant last summer during ongoing negotiations about the bank’s bailout and its repayment.” Would it be fair to foreclose on Bair’s home, throw her belongings in the street and have her sleep in her office downtown?

  9. Roger

    @Dan I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. What this situation has done is to show that the courts now only secure property rights for those who are wealthy enough to hire battalions of lawyers. If you’re an ordinary citizen, any foreclosure mill can file against you and your only recourse is to counter-sue. If you can’t afford to pay lawyers for years, plus court costs running into tens of thousands before the case is finally resolved, you have almost certainly lost what you thought was your property. Same thing applies to that nice new couch you bought using your credit card.

    Up until the Depression, the courts were blatantly on the side of the rich and the big corporations. After World War II it seemed they operated fairly for a few decades. Since 1980 they’ve been reverting to type.

    I have come to utterly loath Eric Holder, but in his defense, he’s trying to work with a Justice Department where 60% of the attorneys are holdovers from the Bush administration, and there has never been any effort to hire attorneys for the division that handles commercial criminal fraud. Also many of the supervisory positions are vacant because Obama’s White House has not nominated people to fill them. Plus, of course, the judicial emergency from the same cause.

    1. Skippy

      As IOTBP would say…LAW is the rich mans scam…because it’s a case of pay to play…no dinero…no ability to argue…regardless of its preport with in established judicial out comes.

      Skippy…climbing K2 would be more rewarding….even if death occurred.

  10. LJR

    Hard to imagine this sort of news creating much enthusiasm for the vultures who buy up property at foreclosure auctions. Who wants to spend hard cash (and that’s what it takes) buying and fixing up a property that has ANY chance of having a second claim against it? These guys aren’t the same brand of fool as the original buyers.

  11. Fourth Glass

    I wonder if the original buyers are tool savvy, some of these piece of crap post war era shacks can be taken down quite nicely with a few packages of recip blades and a powerful saw. Deliver the parts to the retail parking lot of a Mega Bank – “I brought your house back motherf#$kers!” Or better yet, send the parts to Fannie Mae, or the Treasury Department, depending on which entity the borrower feels the most rage towards.

    1. liberal

      Funny, though this obscures a central point—it wasn’t truly a “housing bubble,” but a land bubble.

  12. Fred Smith

    Nobody has brought up the distinct possibility that the loan servicers may well have bundled and sold each of these loans MORE THAN ONCE to differernt investors via the securitization process. THIS COULD BE THE REAL REASON THAT THERE IS NO DOCUMENTATION / PAPER TRAIL. The non-existent documentation and accounting is entirely consistent with this scenario. This means that the entire plan was a true Ponzi scheme in the worst sense. In other words, rather than selling the loan once to investors, as we have all naively been assuming, there is no reason to believe that they did not double-dip or quintuple-dip and sell the exact same loan to completely new buyers. THIS IS A LEVEL OF FRAUD THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HAS NOT YET CONTEMPLATED.

    There are no new laws that are necessary. All that is necessary is for the states to FOLLOW THE EXISITING LAWS which have been around much longer than any of us, or any of the banks themselves. These laws were devised to deal with all property frauds, including the current foreclosure frauds. No more bailouts. Let the chips fall where they may.

  13. R Foreman

    ..not to mention that we’re now hearing there were multiple insurance contracts placed on the same assets, so the people who created and packaged these loans were in effect betting that they would blow up and someone else would pay for it.

    I’m not a legal expert but that looks like fraud as well.

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