Firms that Processed Foreclosures for Big Banks Under ScrutinyNov 3, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The mortgage foreclosure mess could result in criminal charges being levied against the companies and law firms tapped by Bank of America, GMAC Mortgage, JP Mortgage Chase and other big lenders to process home foreclosures. One of the companies coming under scrutiny is Jacksonville, Florida-based Lender Processing Services, or LPS. According to a report in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, LPS handles more than half of all foreclosures in the country.
Last month, several home loan lenders suspended various aspects of the foreclosure process after discovering irregularities in the preparation of court documents. In many instances, the banks outsourced foreclosure processing to firms like LPS, which processed tens of thousands of court documents every month. It now turns out that the foreclosure affidavits processed by those companies were signed by personnel who came to be known as “robo-signers.” In many cases, the robo-signers were not reading or verifying documents where they were signed, and in many documents were not properly notarized.
Some homeowners contesting foreclosures have alleged that LPS forged signatures on paperwork that proves ownership of a loan. After it was revealed that a person’s signature on some foreclosure documents appeared to be scripted by different people, LPS admitted that a subsidiary called Docx in Alpharetta, Ga., improperly prepared some documents.
According to the Journal-Gazette, investigators at both the state and federal level are looking into a number of possible crimes that may have been committed by firms like LPS, including mail and wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and racketeering. They have pressed low-level employees to implicate higher-up executives, and in some cases have obtained in sworn testimony detailed descriptions of what took place inside the foreclosure companies.
The Justice Department’s US attorney in central Florida has launched a criminal investigation into whether LPS manufactured fake assignments of mortgage, the Journal-Gazette said. Florida’s attorney general is trying to determine if LPS forged signatures in order to speed up foreclosures. The state investigation is also looking into whether the big lenders were aware of the problems at LPS, but failed to do anything about them.