New York Attorney General Sues Banking Giants Over Fraudulent Foreclosures

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in a Brooklyn Supreme Court alleging that banking giants Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo created and maintained a mortgage database and then used that information to institute defective foreclosure proceedings against homeowners. Mr. Schneiderman alleges that the banks created this private mortgage electronic registry system, or MERS, as a tool to make it nearly impossible for homeowners to track which bank or entity in fact owned the home or issued the mortgage for the home in question. In essence, the complaint alleges that large banks created a private system with inaccurate records to more easily conduct fraudulent foreclosure proceedings against homeowners, while limiting the ability of those homeowners to defend themselves against foreclosure.

“The banks created the MERS system as an end-run around the property recording system, to facilitate the rapid securitization and sale of mortgages,” Schneiderman said, through his press office. “Once the mortgages went sour, these same banks brought foreclosure proceedings en masse based on deceptive and fraudulent court submissions, seeking to take homes away from people with little regard for basic legal requirements or the rule of law.”

The lawsuit states that “by creating this bizarre and complex end-around of the traditional public recording system, banks achieved their primary goal — over 70 million mortgage loans, including millions of subprime loans, have been registered in the MERS system and the industry has saved more than $2 billion in recording fees.”

The lawsuit seeks an end to this practice, along with civil damages and payments to victimized homeowners.

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