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Attorney General Bill McCollum opens investigations into foreclosure law firms

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Abel Harding
  AP Photo/Mel Evans, file
AP Photo/Mel Evans, file

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum opened investigations Tuesday into allegations of unfair and deceptive practices by three of the state’s largest foreclosure law firms.

The investigations are targeted at Fort Lauderdale-based The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A.; Tampa-based Shapiro & Fishman, LLP; and Plantation-based The Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. The Attorney General previously opened investigations into Florida Default Law Group, a foreclosure firm based in Tampa, and Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Financial.

Read: Florida investigating 'bogus' foreclosure records

Stern’s practice was sued last month in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, by Fort Lauderdale attorney Kenneth Eric Trent, who represents South Florida resident Ignacio Damian Figueroa and is seeking class-action status.

In the suit, Trent says that Stern’s law firm generated fraudulent mortgage assignments when pursuing foreclosures, something the suit says violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

“There’s an intentional haze that no one can get through,” said Trent. “It’s designed to hide the fact that no one can prove who owns these mortgages.”

Because many mortgages have been bought and sold by different institutions multiple times, paperwork involved in the process to obtain foreclosure judgements is often missing. Trent said Stern’s firm overcame that obstacle by creating an assignment, which was signed by a Stern employee instead of a representative of the lender attempting to foreclose.

Trent said news of the Attorney General’s investigation added legitimacy to his case.

“It’s a rotation of the snowball that will hopefully lead to the avalanche that will force wide-spread change in Florida’s foreclosure practices,” he said.

The Attorney General’s office said it served subpoenas on the three firms and was also investigating whether or not the firms had created affiliated companies outside the United States where the documents were prepared.

“Our primary concern is that Florida homeowners have access to due process,” said Sandi Copes, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office.

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Comments (6)

becker10

...esquires put in the hot seat. I thought the "brotherhood" protected each other to prevent this from happening.

Looks like each to his own now LOL

It is me, or does it seem like the mortgage fraud crisis has brought corruption front and center. Maybe the collapse will help curve it, or at least it will go underground until this settles down and the white collar thieves are back in business.

Although, McCollum seem to be jumping on the bandwagon - could this be a political move to make himself look better before the primaries? he is the good guy going after the bad guys?

People always seem to have some angle.

Compleat Consulting Group

It’s about time an investigation started. Our firm has been finding fraud and errors in most of the mortgage documents and foreclosure files we review. Not just residential loans but also in commercial loans. Congratulations to all the dedicated foreclosure fighters out there!

Rick Wall

mturner

Case Number: L10-3-1094

From the FL Attorney General Office
Subject of investigation:
Fidelity National Financial, Inc. and FNF Capital Leasing, Inc. a/k/a Lender Processing Services, Inc., and a/k/a and d/b/a Docx, LLC., a foreign corporation

Subject's address:
601 Riverside Avenue Jacksonville Florida 32204

LPS is the puppetmaster linking each one of these law firms together. The AG office is just putting the pieces of the puzzle together to cement a case against LPS.

The US Attorney General Office is also on LPS. Federal BK cases have identified "bogus" Assignment of Mortgage documents that were executed by LPS employees. see articles below

American Banker
http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/175_114/foreclosure-challenges-1020...

Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052702303450704575160...

DinSFLA

Dismissed With PREJUDICE!

Court finds convincing evidence that Wamu, Chase and Fishman & Shapiro committed fraud on this court!

http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/2010/08/13/fraud-on-the-court-wamu-chase...

sharky

Fight for the moochers that don't pay their bills!!! You rock, a real Robin Hood. Fact...(ok its actually very educated supposition, i can't lie like you guys)...1 out of 10 of your clients is in actual trouble that one might argue isnt of their own doing, the other 9 you are finding a loophole for them to mooch and skip on their debt. Yea, your house isnt worth what you paid for it, neither is your vehicle do you advocate not paying your car payment also?? (I don't finance vehicles by the way) you shouldnt have played investor with your home. Foreclosure fighthers...you have to be kidding me...

Dagny Taggart1

I purchased a home in 1996. I paid as agreed every month, never late until the third quarter of 2008 when my job and income ended. Unfortunately I am not young anymore so I had a hard time finding a job. After eight torturous months of working every day for a loan modification and finding a job, Country wide finally modified my mortgage. Apparently it had been sold to different entities because I got payment books from other people. I did not care because the payment stayed the same.

However, three months later who ever held my Mortgage (maybe County wide, I don't know) was out of business and Bank of America took them over. Bank of America did not honor the loan modification I had worked out with Countrywide or whoever. They acted as if they had never heard of a loan modification, and they tripled my house payment. I can pay my loan modification payment (it is recorded and legal), but I can't pay three times as much to an entity I am not sure owns my loan.

Since I don't know where my money goes or if it even goes toward my mortgage, I am putting my payment in an escrow account. This is what my Attorney has suggested. The foreclosure mill that is trying to take my home is the law offices of David Stern. They have no idea who really owns the mortgage; they just try to foreclose as many as they possibly can, so they have clerical people sign documents that have not been read that they are supposed to read. In order to foreclose on as many as the mills do, it would be impossible for an attorney or judge to really look at the documents so they don't.

I am willing to pay to stay in my home even if it is worth 1/2 as much. I bought this house to live in......

Dagny Taggart1
John Galt Institute of Freedom and Learning
Oguniquit, Maine