Balancing the Scales of Justice for Pro Se Homeowners

When is forgery not forgery?

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012

Yesterday I received an email from Charles Cox, the Oregon Director of the National Homeowners Cooperative, in which he shared a copy the Nevada Lender Processing Services, Docx, Default Solutions, and Fidelity National’s  Motion to Dismiss (See NevadaMTD)  of Nevada State Attorney General Masto’s  Complaint against their, among other things, deceptive business practices .  I was stunned at the legal reasoning in the MTD.

Masto is one of the few State Attorney Generals that is really standing up to the blatant, rampant fraud that is being perpetrated by the banks in her state’s courts and land records, and on the people of the great state of Nevada.  The Complaint (click Nevada-LPSComplaint ) is primarily based on the defendant’s deceptive business practices, which includes the prevalent use of “robo” and “surrogate” signers of legal documents.  

Robo   signing was initially coined by Matthew Weider, an attorney out of Florida, after deposing employees of LPS.  Mr. Weidner coined the phrase “robo signer” to describe the process of the banks in the mass signing of documents by individuals who swear to the  accuracy and authenticity of the information in the document, even though the signer had never looked at any supporting documentation, as legally required, and often times the individual doing the signing signed someone else’s name.  These documents are then notarized by a notary who was not present when the document was actually signed and, if called into a court of law, could not “personally testify” to witnessing the individual signing.

The term “robo signers”   gained even wider public awareness when 60 Minutes ran a segment in which 60 Minutes interviewed Lynn Szymoniak.  Ms. Szymoniak demonstrated the truth of Weidner’s allegations with actual “robo signed” documents.  In this 60 Minute segment, 60 Minutes tracked down Linda Green, one of the most commonly known “robo signature” names, and interviewed her.  Ms. Green admitted in the interview that she had no idea who may be signing her name. (See 60 Minutes)

In the midst of this “robo signing” controversy another new term, “surrogate” signers, was introduced to the public. Surrogate signing is someone signing someone else’s name with no indiciation they are doing so.  To most of us this is known as  “forgery”.  Forgery, according to Webster is “the crime of falsely and fraudulently making or altering a document” . Both state and federal laws contain statutes on the use of “forged” documents, often with criminal penalties and prison sentences.

So to be clear, robo signing is done by an individual with expressed authority to sign the documents on behalf of the bank and claims to have have verified the authenticity and accuracy of the document. However, the individual is signing so many they fail to actually verify the accuracy and authenticity of the information contained in the document; surrogate signing is someone ELSE signing another individual’s name.  Notary fraud is a Notary notarizing the document when they never saw WHO signed the document and the Notary can not testify that he/she saw the individual sign the document.  So let me give you an example:

A homeowner defaults on their mortgage payments. By law, the beneficiary incurring the default must document in very explicit terms the amount and date of default.  The person signing the NOD verifies its accuracy and authenticity with a notarized signature.  However, what is actually happening is a 3rd party company, like LPS, issues and signs a Notice of Default on the homeowners property on behalf of the bank but the person signing the document never sees the business records documenting the default, never verifies the amount or the date of the default, they just sign the document as an authorized agent.  It is also being claimed in some instances that some of these robo signers who DID go look at the bank’s records gained access through a shared login and modified the banks records to reflect what was on the Notice of Defaults.  (See Naked Capitalism)

To compound this issue, now in some cases, the person signing the document IS NOT the authorized agent, but another individual who signs the name of the alleged authorized agent.  Did you get that? Then some Notary, who is not present when the document is signed by either the robo or surrogate signer, notarizes that they witnessed the individual signing the document.

Doesn’t this just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?  Banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Citibank use this process as STANDARD OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES. And there has been no mention of how the banks are correcting the records that were modified by the LPS employees!?

So back to the MTD filed by the defendants in Mastro’s Complaint.  First, the defendants claim that Nevada statutory and common law are conclusive that “neither activity is illegal”. (See MTD, p.5 ¶ 1)  Their argument is that “authorized agents (robo signing) is expressly permitted, as is surrogate signing”.  In addition, the MTD goes on to state, “flaws in the formalities of the execution or notarization do not render mortgage-related documents invalid”.  Huh?  Forgery and deceptive information is a “flaw in formality”?

The defendant’s attorneys are correct in that most state and federal laws “permits a negotiable instrument to be executed by a representative of another”.  As Charles Cox pointed out to me, this is what we have “Power of Attorneys” for.  What the defendant’s attorneys fail to acknowledge is that the surrogate signers are NOT signing their own names on behalf of the “authorized agent” – they are signing the authorized agents name with no mention of the person actually doing the signing or with a power of attorney!  And the Notary – usually in a different office, gets a stack of these documents and notarizes them, claiming they witnessed the authorized agent sign it.   But the attorney’s don’t stop there.  They spend time discussing how it is perfectly legal for another person to sign as another person, illustrating the rightness of this with a case in which a daughter, who received direction from her father, to sign his name on a deed of trust and with a case out of Georgia where “a forged signature is nonetheless binding if ratified by the person whose name was signed”.

Tens of thousands of documents have been signed in this manner.  How you can ever determine who signed for whom and when, is impossible.  And we cannot rely on the Notary because as evidence is proving over and over again, they are liars.  There are a lot more legal arguments in this MTD which give a good idea of the rationalization of the banks, “Look, we can have anyone sign as anyone, based on whatever information we (or they) want to put into the document, because ultimately what does it matter?  It wouldn’t make the document invalid”. Unfortunately I have witnessed this rationalization over and over again from the banks.   In my book, forgery is forgery no matter what name you want to call it; it IS illegal.  To mass produce these documents and use them to take homes is beyond disgusting.  We can only hope and pray that the courts apply the law of the land and smack the banks down hard for their blatant disregard for the truth and the law.

Keep on Fighting!



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  1. What is the big deal about a couple of lies and a few forged documents? | Information to Fight Foreclosures - [...] as I discussed in yesterdays blog, “When is forgery not forgery?” (See here)  the 3rd party firms supporting the…

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