June 2016 H OUSING N EWS R EPORT
2008. He tried to determine which of the three or four lenders held the note, realizing that not only did he not know the answer, neither did any of the companies that were seeking payment. After meeting at a foreclosure fraud seminar, they teamed up together to become two of the nation’s most influential civilian foreclosure experts, exposing injustice
from investor to investor. When the bank took Szymoniak to court, it first said it had lost her document, including the critical assignment of mortgage, which transfers ownership. Curious, she went online and researched 10,000 mortgages. One of the strangest signatures on Szymoniak’s newly discovered mortgage documents
in the beleaguered foreclosure industry. Over the years, Redman, Epstein and Szymoniak have made their presence known in Florida and nationally through their respective foreclosure fraud websites, 4closureFraud.org and ForeclosureHamlet.org and Fraud Digest (now, The Housing Justice Foundation), respectively The trio pooled their resources to fight the foreclosure fraudsters — the banks, loan servicers and lawyers they hired. Separately, Epstein, Redman, and
belonged Linda Green. But on thousands of other mortgages, the style of Linda Green’s signature changed a lot. Evenmore remarkable, Szymoniak discovered Linda Green was vice president of 20 banks — all at the same time.
Caught in a jam of their own making, some lenders resorted to willful forgeries and phony paperwork, writes Dayen. He alleges that judges, prosecutors and even the U.S. Justice Department have all caved to the powerful financial services industry and the deep rot that permeates the property records system. Szymoniak started a multiyear whistle-blower battle on behalf of the federal government that ultimately made her millions. By 2011, Szymoniak had appeared on 60 Minutes , exposing the Linda Green robo-signing fraud. A year later, federal officials and the attorneys general from 49 states announced a record $25 billion settlement with five major banks. Szymoniak and five other whistle- blowers split rewards totaling $46.5 million; Szymoniak’s take came to $5.5 million. Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon and a weekly columnist for the Fiscal Times . The book won the Ida and Studs Terkel Prize, a literary prize named after Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago writer Studs Terkel. He also writes for publications including the New Republic , the American Prospect and The Guardian . Ultimately, “Chain of Title” finds the bank’s behavior not only indefensible but criminal. The “rot in our democracy” exposed in this book will not only surprise you, but make you angry — very angry.
Szymoniak allege how they — and millions of home buyers with a mortgage — had been illegally evicted from their homes as a result of dishonesty, greed and deception at the hands of mortgage lenders, investment bankers and unscrupulous lawyers. In 2008, Szymoniak was served with foreclosure papers on her Palm Beach home. She looked at the foreclosure paperwork and spotted something amiss. When she looked at the assignment of mortgage, the dates the banks put in was 10/17/2008, several months after they suited Szymoniak for foreclosure. They sued her in July 2008, but the documents said they acquired the mortgage in October of 2008. Ultimately, what they uncover is that it is difficult to figure outwho legallyholds the foreclosed loans andmortgages. As Dayen explains in “Chain of Title,” in the age of securitization, lenders passed mortgages and loans to another bank, and that bank would pass them on to another, and so on. Some banks lost the documents. Often, the legal documents behind the mortgage weren’t there. Szymoniak’smortgage had been bundledwith thousands of others into one of those Wall Street securities traded What she uncovered was a real bombshell.
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