New Locks On Foreclosed Homes: What To Do?

Posted by Estell | Angel of Defense | Tuesday 30 April 2013 7:07 am

Let us assume you are one of the many unfortunates who have lost their jobs and fell behind their mortgage payments. Chances are the bank has already initiated a foreclosure on your home. And maybe you found that out when coming back home from a business trip and discovered your keys no longer matched the lock on your front door. In other words, you were locked out of your own home, with no way of getting in with your old set of keys. The next logical question here is, of course, what to do to get back in and gain access to your personal items? If you are like most homeowners dealing with foreclosure, chances are you weren't prepared for this and you are not sure whether you need to find a new place to live just yet.

Since we know there are a lot of readers who are now eager to learn the answer to these burnign matters, let's sink into the topic without further ado.

Can Banks Change Locks On Your Home?

Yes, they can, but only if you have completely abandoned your home, or permanently moved out of it. In the majority of cases, you still live there, which means the bank has no legal right to change the locks. You do, on the other hand, have the right to stay in your home during the entire length of the foreclosure process.

If you are currently dealing with changed locks on your home, you need to immediately get in touch with your mortgage servicer, which is the company you issue your mortgage payments to. Tell them that you still live in the home and that you must regain access to it as soon as possible. In case the respective company refuses to make the necessary arrangements to let you back in into your home, get in touch with an attorney. You might have to enforce your rights at times.

When Changing Home Locks Is A Good Ideahouse lockout

As a side note, changing locks is a good idea when you are the one personally issuing the demand for enhanced home security reasons. Maybe your home was recently broken into, or you no longer enter using the front door lock that gets constantly jammed. Broken keys and worn-out lock parts are additional common problems that most homeowners deal with over the years.

If you are currently looking at a similar problem as we speak, we recommend you immediately get in touch with a local locksmith you can trust. Have them come over and assess the problem for you if you are not sure what it is that you need. They usually do that free of charge, and even offer additional lock or home security advice if prompted to do so. While a house lockout might require extra money, if you find nearby locksmiths who provide 24-7 service without adding any extra mileage or fees for emergencies, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg.

Just make sure you do not change the locks on your foreclosed home after the bank had already done it. Talk to a legal expert instead and figure out the best and quickest ways of getting back into your home. The last thing you want to do is create more fuss about it. The mortgage contract that you signed when you took the loan gave the bank the right to protect its interest in the home. So in case you do decide to move out of the house, the bank will maintain and secure the property accordingly. One of the first things they will do is change the locks.

Fraud Investigator Receives Foreclosure Settlement Worth $18 Million

Posted by revolt | Angel of Defense | Thursday 14 June 2012 1:52 pm

Fraud Investigator Lynn Szymoniak Receives Foreclosure Settlement Worth $18 Million.

(Source: Kimberly Miller The Palm Beach Post, Fla. (MCT)) — PALM BEACH GARDENS —

Tucked into the landmark $25 billion national foreclosure settlement filed this week in federal court is an $18 million payday for Palm Beach Gardens home­owner Lynn Szymoniak.

The 63-year-old attorney specializes in white collar crime cases and was featured last year on the CBS news show 60 Minutes for her role in uncovering mortgage and foreclosure fraud. She has fought the banks since her own foreclosure saga began in 2008.

On Tuesday, she said the settlement is the culmination of years of work combing through foreclosure documents to piece together how the banks took illegal shortcuts to repossess people’s homes.

“The $18 million is real, but it seems so surreal,” Szymoniak said. “I’ve worked very, very hard for this.”

Her award is included in a $95 million agreement reached among the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina and Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

The agreement is part of an overall federal recovery written into the $25 billion nationwide settlement between five banks and 49 state attorneys general. The settlement also includes Ally Financial.

“It’s definitely been worth the fight,” said Szymoniak, whose Palm Beach Gardens home went into foreclosure after a dispute over her adjustable rate mortgage. “I don’t understand how if you see something like this happening that you wouldn’t fight to make it right.”

Szymoniak filed her lawsuit as a whistle-blower under the federal False Claims Act, which allows the government to bring civil actions against entities that knowingly use or cause the use of false documents to obtain money from the government. The whistle-blower provision allows for the filer to receive between 15 percent and 30 percent of the proceeds won by the government.

The lawsuit alleged that banks undertook a nationwide practice of failing to obtain required mortgage assignments, resulting in servicing misconduct and the use of false assignments to submit federal housing administration mortgage insurance claims.

A mortgage assignment is a document used to attest to the true owner of a mortgage, which proves that a bank has the right to foreclose on a home.

Mortgage assignments became necessary following the real estate sales run-up and the banking industry’s creation of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, which muddied the chain of ownership. MERS is used to internally track the transfer, sale or securitization of loans instead of each move being recorded in the public record. With MERS, banks also avoid paying recording fees.

When a bank forecloses on a home, it may need a mortgage assignment from MERS or another lender to prove ownership.

In the rush to foreclose on homes, banks, and some law firms, took shortcuts that led to robo-signed assignments.

Szymoniak identified one of the most prolific robo-signers, a woman named Linda Green, who once worked for a subsidiary of the Jacksonville-based company Lender Processing Services.

“By this agreement we are making an important first step to hold mortgage servicers accountable for fraudulent and abusive practices not only in South Carolina but nationwide,” said Bill Nettles, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.

Szymoniak, who is limited in what she can reveal because of continued litigation, said she plans to pay off her mortgage with her settlement money and donate to charities.

Nettles said Szymoniak was working with several attorneys who filed the case in South Carolina because the state has made a commitment to pursue these kinds of lawsuits. Because the practice was happening nationally, it could have been filed in any state, he said.

“We are able to move them through a little faster than bigger districts,” said Fran Trapp, assistant U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina.

St. Petersburg foreclosure defense attorney Matt Weidner said he doesn’t believe Szymoniak would have received the support to pursue the case in Florida.

“Our state leadership has made it absolutely apparent they have no interest in going after the banks at all,” he said. “To an unfortunate degree, the courts have also allowed the banks to run roughshod over consumers.”

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Sue Your Bank With A Securities Fraud Lawsuit

Posted by revolt | Angel of Defense | Thursday 18 August 2011 1:03 pm

Video – “THE INSIDE JOB MOVIE” Wall Street Corruption Revealed

Posted by revolt | Angel of Defense,Video - "THE INSIDE JOB MOVIE" Wall Street Corruption Revealed | Tuesday 14 June 2011 6:03 pm

The story of how Wall Street corruption brought down the entire world economy. You need to watch this movie ASAP, as it may be taken off of the Internet soon!

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Judges Give Foreclosure Homes Back Free & Clear!

Posted by revolt | Angel of Defense | Monday 4 April 2011 6:44 am

Foreclosure crisis: Fed-up judges crack down on disorder in the courts


By Christine Stapleton and Kimberly Miller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Posted: 7:57 p.m. Saturday, April 2, 2011

Angry and exasperated by faulty foreclosure documents, judges throughout Florida are hitting back by increasingly dismissing cases and boldly accusing lawyers of “fraud upon the court.”

A Palm Beach Post review of cases in state and appellate courts found judges are routinely dismissing cases for questionable paperwork. Although in most cases the bank is allowed to refile the case with the appropriate documents, in a growing number of cases judges are awarding homeowners their homes free and clear after finding fraud upon the court.

Still, critics say judges are not doing enough.

“The judges are the gatekeepers to jurisprudence, to the Florida Constitution, to access to the courts and to due process,” said attorney Chip Parker, a Jacksonville foreclosure defense attorney who was recently investigated by the Florida Bar for his critical comments about so-called “rocket dockets” during an interview with CNN. “It’s discouraging when it appears as if there is an exception being made for foreclosure cases.”

In February, Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando took one of the largest foreclosure law firms in the state to task in a public hearing meant to send a message. She called Marc A. Ben-Ezra, founding partner of Ben-Ezra & Katz P.A., before her to explain discrepancies in a case handled by an attorney in his Fort Lauderdale-based firm.

“This case should have never been filed,” said Lando, who referred to the firm’s work on the case as “shoddy” and “grossly incompetent.” She called Ben-Ezra a “robot” who filed whatever the banks sent him, and held him in contempt of court. She then gave the homeowner the home – free and clear – and barred the lender from refiling the foreclosure.

Attorney Maria Mussari, who represents the homeowner, said she wasn’t surprised.

“She has become a voice for other judges,” Mussari said. “If judges crack down on following the rules, we’ll still have foreclosures, but maybe the banks will pay attention and do it right.”

Mussari said it’s taken a while for the courts to wake up to the foreclosure disorder because homeowners were largely unrepresented and judges overwhelmed.

“It’s not that they don’t care,” she said. “They have thousands of cases on their docket and it’s the same thing over and over again.”

Ongoing scrutiny by the FBI, the Florida attorney general, the Florida Bar, the media and defense attorneys has uncovered countless examples of forged signatures, post-dated documents, robo-signing and lost paperwork.

As a result, defense attorneys are filing more motions challenging the documents. That means judges must spend more time reviewing documents and holding hearings. The situation was complicated last week when attorney David J. Stern, who operated the largest so-called foreclosure mill in Florida, sent letters to the chief judges of Florida’s 20 circuit courts announcing that he intended to violate court rules and dump 100,000 foreclosure cases without a judge’s order.

“We no longer have the financial or personnel resources to continue to file Motions to Withdraw in tens of thousands of cases that we still remain as counsel of record,” Stern wrote, suggesting that the judges treat the pending cases “as you deem appropriate.”

Last year, Florida lawmakers gave the courts $6 million to hire senior judges and case managers to reduce the foreclosure backlog. Since the money was awarded July 1, judges have cleared nearly 140,000 cases. As of the end of February, 322,724 foreclosures were still in the system.

But clearing backlogs isn’t what judges should be focused on, said University of Miami Law Professor A. Michael Froomkin .

“Substantive justice still needs to be done, and that’s very hard sometimes,” Froomkin said. “When I read stories about judges looking at things more carefully and holding attorneys accountable, to me, the system is doing what it needs to do.”

A closer inspection of cases by judges would slow down the foreclosure train, but the result may be preferable to mere expediency.

“Justice,” Froomkin said. “The outcome, I hope, is justice.”

Alan White, a law professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana, who has studied the foreclosure issue nationwide, said judges had few reasons to doubt banks in the beginning of the foreclosure avalanche.

“They had a lot of credibility,” White said. “Now, when a bank says it owns a mortgage, judges are skeptical.”

White said a smattering of “maverick” judges began poking holes in foreclosures years ago before the media and lawmakers seized on problems in the fall. The judicial momentum has built since then.

“The combined impact will clearly be to change practices and to reduce the amount of corner-cutting the banks and their lawyers are engaged in,” White said. “It could mean foreclosures get slower. It could also encourage banks to pursue alternatives to foreclosure.”

The professors agree it’s difficult for judges to pick out problems in foreclosure cases that are undefended. Homeowner advocate is not their role.

“They don’t fix things,” Froomkin said. “They decide cases.”

Judges question the process… and they let the foreclosure attorneys have it.

From a Feb. 11 hearing in Miami-Dade regarding a Homestead foreclosure. The hearing ended with Judge Maxine Cohen Lando finding attorney Marc A. Ben-Ezra in contempt.

Lando: ‘I don’t care what the banks — your clients — are telling you. Your job is to give your clients legal advice and you’re not doing it. You are acting as a robot for a plaintiff who is not even giving you the information you need to file a proper foreclosure.’

Lando: ‘This level of practice is shoddy. It is grossly negligent. It is worthy of a judge looking at, and saying, what is going on here? How dare you file something like this.’

From a May 6 hearing in Miami-Dade. The hearing ended with Judge Jennifer Bailey awarding the home to the owner and barring the lender from attempting to foreclose again on the condo.

Bailey: ‘And see, the really interesting thing to me as a judge is in no other species or kind of law would that be remotely acceptable, or, frankly, anything short of malpractice. But somehow in Foreclosure World everybody thinks that that’s just fine, that you all can know absolutely nothing about your files and walk in here and ask judges for things left and right without even knowing what’s going on.’

From an April 7 hearing in Pinellas County. Judge Anthony Rondolino set aside his prior ruling awarding summary judgment to the bank.

Rondolino: ‘I don’t have any confidence that any of the documents the court’s receiving on these mass foreclosures are valid.’

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