Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds, Salem MA - Yesterday at the Annual Conference of The International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers , Register John O'Brien revealed the results of an independent audit of his registry. The audit, which is released as a legal affidavit was performed by McDonnell Property Analytics, examined assignments of mortgage recorded in the Essex Southern District Registry of Deeds issued to and from JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of America during 2010. In total, 565 assignments related to 473 unique mortgages were analyzed. McDonnell's Report includes the following key findings:
- Only 16% of assignments of mortgage are valid
- 75% of assignments of mortgage are invalid.
- 9% of assignments of mortgage are questionable
- 27% of the invalid assignments are fraudulent, 35% are "robo-signed" and 10% violate the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
- The identity of financial institutions that are current owners of the mortgages could only be determined for 287 out of 473 (60%)
- There are 683 missing assignments for the 287 traced mortgages, representing approximately $180,000 in lost recording fees per 1,000 mortgages whose current ownership can be traced.
Marie McDonnell told O'Brien, "I have been auditing residential mortgage loans for the past twenty years on a one-by-one basis. In the process, I have been cataloging the ramp up in predatory lending and mortgage fraud for all of those years, but I was not prepared for the shocking results of my audit. What this means is that the degradation in standards of commerce by which the banks originated, sold and securitized these mortgages are so fatally flawed that the institutions, including many pension funds, that purchased these mortgages don't actually own them because the assignments of mortgage were never prepared, executed and delivered to them in the normal course of business at the time of the transaction. In a blatant attempt to engineer a 'fix' to the problem, the banks set up in-house document execution teams, or outsourced the preparation of their assignments to third parties who manufactured them out of thin air without researching who really owns the mortgage."
O'Brien asked McDonnell what this means for his constituents. "It is vitally important for your constituents to know that if they are in foreclosure now or if their homes have been foreclosed upon, they can stop the foreclosure from proceeding, or institute a court action to vacate a completed foreclosure. . . . I can tell you that every single assignment of mortgage that was recorded for the purpose of foreclosing the homeowner is invalid, overtly fraudulent, or criminally fraudulent. My findings also show that your constituents who are not in foreclosure, and have never been delinquent in their payments also have clouds on title due to the recording of defective and invalid discharges and assignments of mortgage."