Bank: We’re going to foreclose on your home for not making timely mortgage payments. Homeowner: I dispute your foreclosure proceedings. Court: Bank, can you establish this homeowner is in violation of the mortgage agreement? Bank: Well, of course. Homeowner: I say the mortgage you seek to enforce is fraudulent, see that MERS is listed on my Deed of Trust? The website, Foreclosure Nation, offers resources including a list of criteria you can use to spot fraudulent mortgage documents. According to Foreclosure Nation, “MERS was used by the Wall Street Banks to avoid paying county recorder fees and real estate transfer tax fees.[i]” The site lists 66 items to look at when looking for mortgage fraud, and item number 66 is a long list of names who are known “robo-signers.”
A popular publication, Washington’s Blog, offers several descriptions and quotes about MERS and how it worked as a cheat. “The Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS “) is a shell company with no employees, owned by the giant banks.[ii]” MERS was advertised in 2007 as a tax and fee-avoiding opportunity in this brochure: “MINIMIZE RISK. SAVE MONEY. REDUCE PAPERWORK.” Inside the brochure there is also a claim that “clients save money because MERS “eliminates the need to record assignments in the name of the Trustee.”[iii]”
MERS is a system owned and operated by MERSCORP Holdings, Inc.[iv], the parent company. The MERS website promotes it’s system as being a technology innovation helping customers reduce processing costs and increase efficient access to information for mortgages. This national database is free to the public who can use the system to access loan servicer information. The About Us page of the site states, “MERS and MERS®Residential were created by the mortgage banking industry to streamline the mortgage process by using electronic commerce to eliminate paper.[v]”
In defense of its MERS system and public image, the “In the News” page on the MERS website promotes various news articles praising MERS as well as examples of court decisions in favor of MERS[vi]. On the other side of the PR spin many “Judges, lawmakers, lawyers and housing experts are raising piercing questions about MERS…whose private mortgage registry has all but replaced the nation’s public land ownership records,” according to a 2011 New York Times article on point[vii]. While it is likely that investigations into MERS activity caused reform to the system, there are likely many undiscovered no document mortgages in circulation. The bundling and sale of mortgages and claims of title can make it very difficult to know who owes what to whom.
Bankruptcy attorneys often meet with new clients facing foreclosure and they want to know if their mortgages are valid and whether they were part of a fraudulent mortgage transfer. If the bank can’t prove they own the mortgage, what happens to the homeowner and the property? An advantage to filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or 13 is the automatic stay provision to stop foreclosure proceedings while you and your attorney further investigate the history of debts and obligations.
Attorney Joseph Wrobel is a veteran bankruptcy attorney who has worked through many complex challenges facing clients trying to keep their home and recover from a disastrous life event such as being a victim of mortgage fraud. To learn more about mortgage fraud, mortgages generally, and keeping your home, contact an attorney at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. on Twitter. If you need legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by dialing (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney.
[i] Foreclosure Nation: How To Spot Fraudulent Mortgage Documents. By Max Gardner.
[ii] Washington’s Blog: States Fight Back Against MERS Mortgage Fraud. By Washington’s Blog, Apr. 7, 2013.
[iii] See Washington’s Blog cited herein.
[iv] Website: MERSCORP Holdings, Inc.
[v] Website: MERS – About Us.
[vi] Website: MERS – In the News.
[vii] New York Times: MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan. By Michael Powell and Gretchen Morgenson, Mar. 5, 2011