October 22, 2014
Re: OCWEN EMPLOYEES SIGNING FOR LONG-DISSOLVED MORTGAGE COMPANIES, AND OCWEN’S AFFIDAVITS REGARDING LOST MORTGAGE DOCUMENTS
Dear Superintendent Lawsky, Attorney General Schneiderman, Attorney General Bondi and Senator Warren:
I am Lynn E. Szymoniak, the Director of The Housing Justice Foundation and most recently known as the successful whistleblower who recovered a $95 million settlement for HUD from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo in 2012. I am writing to you because of continued abuses by Ocwen Loan Servicing (“Ocwen”) producing mortgage documents to facilitate foreclosures nationwide.
Despite all the settlements, what real changes and safeguards are in place to prevent mortgage servicers from producing shoddy and fraudulent mortgage documents? Sadly, infuriatingly, little has changed in the courtrooms and county recording offices across the country. None of the settlements required the banks and servicers to notify judges and litigants and county recorders that the loan documents they produced were fraudulent or defective. Nothing prevents servicers from continuing to produce mortgage assignments and affidavits with false information.
In the foreclosure courtrooms and recording offices, it is still 2008.
How accurate are the mortgage documents that are now being filed?
An examination of the mortgage assignments and Affidavits filed in the first nine months of 2014 shows that for OCWEN, it is business as usual.
In 2014, officers of Ocwen filed thousands of Lost Assignment Affidavits throughout the country swearing that original mortgage assignments were lost or misplaced and that “good faith efforts have been made in accordance with our procedures” for locating the lost assignments. How many thousands of mortgage documents can one servicer claim to have “lost or misplaced” without an inquiry regarding responsible document retention practices?
The representation that documents are “lost or misplaced” implies that the documents actually existed at some point in time. In these Affidavits, no copy of the allegedly lost original is provided – nor information given as to who signed the lost document or when and where the original was purportedly signed. In many cases, these assignments transferred mortgages to residential mortgage-backed trusts now serviced by Ocwen. These trusts paid document custodians to obtain and safeguard these assignments. How did tens of thousands of mortgage assignments get lost, at the expense of the investors? Representative copies of these Lost Assignment Affidavits are available online at thjf.org/ocwenletter.
An even more widespread problem is the signing by Ocwen officers as Attorney-In-Fact for many long-defunct mortgage companies, including Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Argent Mortgage Company, New Century Mortgage Company and Option One Mortgage Corporation on mortgage assignments. These assignments are most often used to transfer mortgages from the defunct companies to residential mortgage-backed trusts. These transfers are continuing in 2013 and 2014, despite the settlements, and are often made with Ocwen employees acting as MERS officers. We thus have thousands of transfers being made on mortgage assignments in 2014 when no such financial transactions actually occurred.
Despite the representations on these assignments, the transfers to the trusts were not made in 2013 and 2014 – years after the trusts closed. The quarterly financial reports for these trusts include no such corresponding transactions. Our county land records have thousands of Ocwen-made assignments that incorrectly state the date of the transfer of a mortgage to a trust. This is deceptive and unfair to homeowners, investors and the courts.
We need rigorous oversight of mortgage servicing companies, an investigation of the “diligent search for the lost document” affidavits, and mortgage assignments that accurately state the date on which the transfer took place. We also need to put an end to documents being executed by long-defunct companies through the “attorney-in-fact” method currently used by Ocwen and other servicers.
Thank you for your continued efforts.
Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.
Director, The Housing Justice Foundation
Visit thjf.org/ocwenletter/ for attachments to this letter including…
Examples of Lost Assignment Affidavits by Ocwen
Examples of Ocwen Mortgage Assignments As Attorney-In-Fact for Ameriquest, Argent, New Century, and Option One Mortgage Corporation
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services
New York Department of Financial Services
One State Street
New York, NY 10004-1511
Eric T. Scheiderman, Attorney General of New York
Office of the NY Attorney General
Albany, NY 12224-0341
Pam Bondi, Attorney General of Florida
Office of the FL Attorney General
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510