2010-10-29 / Top Stories

Cuomo Expands Foreclosure Probe

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that he is seeking information from four major mortgage servicers - Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage/ Ally - concerning the filing of affidavits that falsely attest the signer has personal knowledge of the facts presented in home foreclosure proceedings, a practice known as “robo-signing.”

In view of the prevalence of this practice in the industry, Cuomo also called on mortgage servicers engaged in “robo-signing” in New York to immediately suspend all foreclosure actions in the state until they correct their procedures to comply with New York law and can assure the public and the courts that integrity has been restored.

“I will not allow New Yorkers to lose their homes due to mortgage goliaths that buck the system by submitting affidavits signed without knowledge of the facts,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Such conduct is a fraud upon our courts and a slap in the face of New Yorkers struggling to get by in this economy. My office will continue to root out these practices so homeowners receive the full protections afforded by our judicial system.”

Recent reports indicate that employees of these mortgage servicers routinely signed affidavits submitted in foreclosure proceedings without personal knowledge of the underlying facts or verification of loan file information, and without even reading the documents they signed. This practice, known as “robo-signing,” has tainted the integrity of the foreclosure process by which homeowners in New York lose their homes. Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage announced that they were temporarily halting pending foreclosures, while Wells Fargo has not suspended foreclosures despite the deficiencies uncovered.

Attorney General Cuomo is calling on these mortgage servicers to submit documents and information to his office concerning how foreclosure documents are prepared, verified, attested to and notarized, and how required notices are provided to New York homeowners. The letters request that the mortgage servicers stop re-filing foreclosures that had been suspended (and in Wells Fargo’s case, cease proceeding with pending foreclosures) until the Attorney General’s Office is assured that reliable and fair procedures are in place and that accurate, trustworthy documentation will be submitted to the New York courts. The letters also request that the mortgage servicers refrain from filing any new foreclosures until they can provide assurances that their procedures comply with New York law and are neither tainted nor inaccurate.

Because of the gravity of these transgressions and the high volume of foreclosures, Attorney General Cuomo is calling on all mortgage servicers engaged in “robo-signing” in New York to immediately suspend all pending foreclosure actions in the state, including evictions and foreclosure sales. Cuomo is also requesting that the mortgage servicers not file any new foreclosures until the companies correct their procedures.

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis. In fact, the foreclosure rates in Nassau and Suffolk Counties rank among the ten highest in the nation. More than 60,000 New York homes are currently in foreclosure, and 130,000 New York homeowners have received preforeclosure notices this year after falling behind on their mortgage payments.

In addition to his office’s review of Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage/Ally, Attorney General Cuomo is working with other state attorneys general, banking regulators and other interested parties to assess the veracity of servicers’ foreclosure filings and ensure the fairness and accuracy of their processes.

Attorney General Cuomo advises New York homeowners who are facing foreclosure proceedings to do the foll. owing:
Contact the court to find out the sta.
tus of your foreclosure proceeding. Seek representation or advice from a
qualified attorney. If necessary, contact
your local bar association or
legal services office for a referral. If
you are unable to retain counsel,
carefully review any documents
filed thus far with the court to
. ensure their accuracy. If you have not done so already,
immediately contact your lender or
servicer to discuss available alternatives
to foreclosure such as a loan
. modification. For a general description of the foreclosure
process, refer to
www.nyprotectyourhome.com/fc_ti
. meline.html. Consult with a government-approved
housing counseling agency. To find
counselors approved by the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) in your local
area, call 800-569-4287 or visit
www.hud.gov. A list of housing counselors
also can be found via the NYS
Banking Department at
. www.banking.state.ny.us. Call HOPE NOW at 1-888-995-
HOPE. HOPE NOW is an alliance
of housing counselors, mortgage
companies, investors and other
mortgage market participants that
provides free foreclosure prevention
. assistance. If you live in New York City, call 311
to schedule free foreclosure counseling
sessions at the Center for New
York City Neighborhoods.

New York homeowners who believe their homes were foreclosed based upon false or inaccurate documents filed in court by their lender or servicer should seek representation from an attorney.

They may also file a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection by calling 800-771-7755 or visiting www.ag.ny.gov.

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