The mortage crimes

A new citywide study casts the fairness of SF foreclosures in doubt

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EDITORIAL The mortgage crisis in San Francisco isn't just devastating to homeowners and to the southeast neighborhoods where foreclosures are most common — it's clear evidence that lenders and their affiliates are and have been acting illegally. This city ought to be taking the lead on pressing civil and criminal charges against the mortgage outfits.

City Assessor Phil Ting commissioned a report in February that showed that nearly every one of 382 foreclosures actions in the city between January 2009 and October 2011 had at least some irregularities. In more than 80 percent of the cases, the report identified direct violations of law.

It's a stunning revelation: In nearly 100 percent of the cases studied, the mortgage companies did something wrong. Homeowners were not notified that they were in default. Properties were seized and sold by companies that didn't have the proper title to them. Documents were backdated or signed by an entity that didn't have the authority to sign. In some cases, it wasn't clear who actually owned the mortgage, because the corporation that filed for foreclosure had never property taken title to the loan.

The report comes as Occupy protesters in San Francisco are moving aggressively to target banks that are tossing people out of their homes and at a time when county sheriffs in other parts of the country are refusing to execute foreclosure orders.

There may not be much San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi can do — mortgage foreclosures in California can be done with almost no oversight and by the time the sheriff is called in there's nothing left but an eviction. But the report makes clear that there were both violations of business regulations and crimes, in some cases felony crimes — and the San Francisco city attorney and district attorney should be moving as quickly as possible to take legal action.

Both City Attorney Dennis Herrera and District Attorney George Gascon have asked for more material from Ting's office, although neither has announced a formal investigation. But every day that this goes on, more people lose their homes and more crimes are committed — and both offices should move as quickly as possible to take action.

There's nothing in the federal settlement over fraudulent mortgage activity that prevents local officials from taking this sort of action. There's nothing preventing Herrera from seeking an injunction against further foreclosures or preventing Gascon from indicting the lenders and their executives.

Meanwhile, Ting told us that he's asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate, because the pattern of violations almost certainly goes beyond San Francisco.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has introduced a bill that would mandate transparency in foreclosures, so at least homeowners would know who to contact to seek a modification. That's a good start. But holding these sleazy operators accountable would send a message that San Francisco isn't going to let this sort of behavior continue.

Comments

If you don't pay your mortgage, you lose your home. Every mortgage application form states that very clearly, and homeowners know the risk. If that penalty wasn't there, nobody would ever pay their mortgage.

So yes, some foreclosures have gone thru with the odd document here or there missing this and that. But did that make ANY material difference to the reality of the loan?

Has any homeowner been evicted who was making his payments? Of course not. And that's the real issue.

Posted by Anonymous on Feb. 29, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

Anonymous--You clearly live under a rock, and it sounds like you're quite happy to be doing so. Only bank executives make assertions that nobody was evicted who was making his payments. In fact, Jamie Dimon said exactly that. Sounds like you are a banking shill whose source of information is Jamie Dimon, not the press.

The fact is, if you spend 2 minutes on sites like Huffington Post, chase-sucks.org, Google, and others, you'd find numerous articles from reputable media sources that refute your claim. People who had multiple banks foreclosing on the same property, previous owners' banks who never received payment from title companies, misapplied funds errors, people who fought foreclosures because they paid too EARLY, banks who refused payments then foreclosed, illegal HAMP foreclosures on people who never missed payments, and so on. Yup--those scenarios appear to be the result of missed payments...

So, if you had to miss payments and someone filed a lawsuit against you, would you just roll over and give the house to the first person (or law firm) who asked you for it? If you did, you'd be stupid... There are a lot of scammers out there who file phony lawsuits, send threatening letters, and so on. So, if someone files a foreclosure lawsuit, you shouldn't defend yourself and accept everything, including your signature that someone may have forged, and just give up?

Keep living under your rock, believing that the system works flawlessly... At least your ranks are thinning out.

Posted by Anonymous2 on Feb. 29, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

"evicted" when they were up to date on their loan?

No?

Didn't think so.

Just because there is an error on some document doesn't mean that a deadbeat should be allowed to live for free.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 01, 2012 @ 7:34 am

The Fifth Amendment provides the right to due process. At any rate, nothing the borrower does excuses the lender from breaking the law. To say otherwise is to say the banks are above the law. The deadbeat homeowner argument is an irrelevant one.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

The Fifth Amendment provides the right to due process. At any rate, nothing the borrower does excuses the lender from breaking the law. To say otherwise is to say the banks are above the law. The deadbeat homeowner argument is an irrelevant one.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

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