Trouble for MERS Keeps Mounting
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com (revised)
In Guilford County, North Carolina, the Register of Deeds, Jeff Thigpen, is questioning if his county was cheated out of more than a million dollars real estate fees because banks did not file proper chain of ownership documents with his office.
Instead, the banks used a Virginia based company called MERS. It bypassed the local Register of Deeds office, not just in Guilford but all counties across the U.S.
MERS stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. It manages a centralized electronic property data base that is a critical tool in securitization, or bundling, of mortgages into securities (mortgage-backed securities). About 60 % of all mortgages, or 65 million U.S. homes, are tracked in MERS. Yesterday, the Greensboro News and record reported Thigpen said,
“As register of deeds I have two primary responsibilities in land records,” Thigpen wrote in the release. “A sworn duty to protect the chain of title and a fiduciary responsibility to collect recording fees. Quite frankly, MERS has undermined both. Through their own ‘private-for-profit’ Register of Deeds mortgage tracking office, MERS has created a dangerous centralization of power whose sole purpose is to protect and serve the interests of major banking conglomerates and undermine public recording officers.” (Click here to read the complete News and Record article.)
MERS was established by big banks, and many contend it is nothing more than an electronic shell company with no employees. (Click here to find out more about MERS.) Financial institutions such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citi and others all use MERS. Mr. Thigpen alleges MERS may have made false statements since 2005 to avoid fees in his county that he says add up to more than $1.3 million. To get an idea of how much of a problem this is for MERS and the banks, consider this probably happens in every single county in America! The MERS website says it is not paying county fees because, “Fees are paid for a service performed, and if a document is eliminated because it is no longer necessary, no fee is due because there is nothing to record. We believe it is wrong and unethical to seek money for services that were never rendered, and in fact, MERS greatly reduces the workload of county recorders, resulting in lower operating expenses for the county recorder’s office.” (Click here to go the the MERS website.)
A California lawsuit alleges it is owed between $60 and $120 billion in unpaid recording fees. The industry is not going to go down without a fight according to a Florida defense lawyer blog. It reported late last year,
“Lobbyists for the lending industry are seeking legislation that would validate the legality of MERS. If the lobbyists were successful, all of the suits in which MERS is a defendant would immediately become moot. This would effectively end the lawsuit pending in California against MERS in which the State of California is seeking between $60 billion and $120 billion from MERS for unpaid recording fees.” (Click here to read the full report from Florida Foreclosure Defense Lawyers Blog.)
Legitimizing documentation for foreclosures from MERS is meeting heavy resistance. Two months ago, homeowners won a landmark victory in the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The Huffington post reported,
“The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a lower court judge’s ruling invalidating two mortgage foreclosure sales because the banks, in their capacity as trustees for mortgage securities, did not prove that they actually owned the mortgages at the time of foreclosure.” (Click here to read the complete Huffington Post story.)
Other states have had similar rulings questioning the legal standing of MERS. States such as Arizona are about to make it much harder for the paperless MERS to foreclose on delinquent homeowners. Bloomberg reported recently,
“The legislation, which is headed to the House after being approved 28-2 in the Republican-dominated Senate, would allow foreclosure sales to be voided if lenders that didn’t originate the loan can’t produce the full chain of title. . . . Lawmakers in states including New York, Oregon and Virginia also have proposed legislation to address concerns among consumer advocates that lenders or mortgage servicers are using incomplete or false paperwork to repossess properties in default. The attorneys general of all 50 states are jointly investigating how the mortgage-servicing industry operates.” (Click here for the complete Bloomberg story.)
This type of legislation is decidedly anti-MERS, and looks like it is becoming a national trend. But regardless of legislation, just the unpaid fees to cash strapped counties across America pose a huge problem to MERS and the banks that own it. Last year, a former hedge fund manager, Shah Gilani, said,
“If suits against MERS and all its members are successful, unpaid recording fees and fines (that can be as much as $10,000 per incident) would make every one of them insolvent.” (Click here to read the full story.)
Well, if we let the counties (and states) have their way – they’d take every doggone last penny that we have. They would literaly take us to the cleaners.
But this is not to say that the banks don’t get away with highway robbery. The “rules” (aka laws) that the little guys have to follow, the banksters often thumb their noses at.
We need to reestablish the rule of law in this country and in the world, otherwise there will be just chaos, anarchy and constant war and scandal in the world. America was founded as a Constitutional Republic, based on the rule of law. It was not founded as a democracy. Democracy is rule of the masses, without any equal protection under the law.
Real Estate is dead. It’s not coming back until 2033…
Great piece, as always, Greg! It is worth noting (and perhaps commenting on) MERS’ response to these claims, as taken from their website, http://www.mersinc.org.
“Fees are paid for a service performed, and if a document is eliminated because it is no longer necessary, no fee is due because there is nothing to record. We believe it is wrong and unethical to seek money for services that were never rendered, and in fact, MERS greatly reduces the workload of county recorders, resulting in lower operating expenses for the county recorder’s office.”
sounds like on of the white shoe boys is protecting his masters. I wonder if these shameless cowards remember when they first sold out. This quote reminds me of a Russian Times News segment I saw today regarding Indian Farmers committing suicide due to high levels of debt created by the dependency on GMO seeds from Monsanto. The farmers clearly were broke and could not make ends meet because they could not afford to keep buying seeds and the Indian spokesman for Monsanto was trying to justify how suicide was common among farmers. The day of reckoning will come for the masters and their useful idiots. The guy seemed like a polished MBA type, the most dangerous types of idiots.
One story that is largely ignored by the LSM is the riots over food currently going on in India. However, because India produces NOTHING but takes in outsourced jobs, the riots going on do not register on the LSM radar.
BTW, I’m an MBA. I get my hands dirty and live in grubbies, so I don’t think I’m “polished.”
Sounds like more class warfare. So if you’re educated you’re an idiot?
The way I look at it is, they have to start somewhere. That somewhere is to go back and renegotiate the home loan. The bank goes from a negative to positive flow on the books. The home owner can now pay the mortgage. The city gets the taxes on the home and maybe the economy can shift gears with extra discretionary money spending. There will be those that can’t afford it still but triage is the game instead of lawsuits and defaults. Lets face it, we are all paying for this fiasco but I did not tell the bank to make the loan nor did I push the buyers into a home they could not afford. Otherwise we continue the downward financial spiral. No more bonuses for the bankers and the home owner has to put 50% down Cash, on any future major purchases till this clears up. Cut up his credit cards too!
On the legal side, where is Judge Roy Bean when you need him?
It’s always the “little guy/little gal” who has to shell out. When Mexico defaulted its loan from Bank of America in the 1980’s, guess who had to cover it? If you think management took a “butch,” you’re wrong on that count.
Well, what happens to the people who have already been foreclosed upon and evicted from their homes and the home has been sold to a third party; how could you vacate that foreclosure under the proposed new Senate law?
Don’t get me wrong, sounds nice, but I question the Senate’s sincerity, they probably already know the house will reject it or water it down whereby it won’t be anthing but a token play for their public relations people once it get finalized.
The home crisis has been looming years and nothing has been done, seems far to little and to late now. Further, I don’t believe this government and or any of its branches will do one thing to wall street and their banking buddies. Greg, don’t count the banks down and out, the bank have big, and I mean big, lobbies and our esteemed politicans can’t stop feeding from their trough. The banks are fine with our politicans grandstanding against them, they understand that has to be done for their constituents, just as long as nothing is actually nothing to them; which, is what in reality has in the past and will in the future happen.
The proposed legislation is probably much to do about nothing, more politics and grandstanding for a sound bite.
As for the couple of court cases you discussed, the courts can do one thing but the government can legislate around any decision affecting the banks.
The last 60 years we were taught to fear communism, socialism, the Soviet Union, other forgottens and now the islamic radicals, while all along the real enemy of America was Wall Street, the banks and their lobbies.
OT: Unemployment is down again according to BLS!!!
The recession is over!
I am Kool-Aid drinker! (not really)
Wall St is untouchable. They made theft legal and unprosecutable. What a perfect crime, make it legal to steal. If anyone thinks there was no forethough put into this scam then they are foolish. Deregulation took 20 years of bribing to secure. No one was paying attention but now everyone is lol. I am not really big on regulation, that is why it is called speculation but when you lose you should not get new cards to get back in the game until you ante up again. Imagine being in a casino at 5 am with the ability to conjure up your own money to gamble with. Anyone who believes a snake-oil salesman deserves to lose their hard earned money. If you ever get the feeling that this is to good to be true, it probably is. If you are dumb enough to buy junk then you lose regardless of who told you that it was a great deal. Your the sucker.
What have these crocks on wall street have to be caught doing to be prosecuted?
If the “banks” are forced to pay these “missing” fees to local governments, this would pop the financial bubble that has been inflated from the (continuing) bailout.
The government cheering section will never publicize or encourage this behavior. As we read loan fraud is being forgiven by our government. The people are so divorced from the government ( just look at Wisconsin) that we now have a benevolent dictatorship. It is amazing how weak Republicans are in going after their mandate (except at the state level) and how arrogant Democrats are when turned out of office.
There is no hope of returning to sanity until new political parties emerge and the old privileged bunch is turned out.
Could these banksters possibly be THAT greedy? Is it beyond the realm of possibility that they would create a titular company in Virgina to further scam local, county, and state governments out of millions of dollars in addition to their scamming of mortgagees?
The answers to these questions is unfortunately: Yes.
This would have never happened with Ron Paul as President.
Thanks Greg for your continued great work, and I’ll will be listening for your next appearance on Coast-2-Coast AM.
stand in front of a large mirror naked.
take a picture of yourself.
look at the picture.
this is what the banksters are doing to you ! !
have a nise day.
There will be calls for legitimizing MERS by the financial system. Congress will try to offer some relief out of the need to defend the status quo. Otherwise, fees, interest and penalties will sink what little is left of the questionable solvency claimed by the financiers.
Article I US Constitution, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”
Ex post facto: after the fact. Ergo, Congress and the individual states can’t pass cover-your-ass laws after the crime was comitted.
It just keeps getting better and better. The question for Congress, “Just what were you thinking?”
Unfortunately, the Ex Post Facto clause hasn’t been interpreted in the way you suggest. In keeping with the fears of the Founders, it grandfathers protection from laws that change an activity from legal to prohibited status. One cannot be arrested for past activity that was legal at the time but now prohibited. However, if a prohibition is lifted and the prohibited activity becomes legal (as in an act that would legitimize MERS), all previous judgements of guilt become null and void.
However, it wouldn’t shock me if banks are still charging recording fees at closing, notwithstanding MERS’ “We believe it is wrong and unethical to seek money for services that were never rendered…” stated position. Does MERS provide its services to the banks for free? No way! For MERS to provide a service under contract to a bank without consideration would be illegal. If my hunch is correct, and the banks are passing on the MERS fee to customers as a “recording fee” at closing, then not only are the banks guilty of circumventing legitimate recording fees by using MERS, they’re also guilty of collecting a fee on behalf of the county recorder and not just not remitting it to the county, but possibly keeping it for themselves!
The government continues to perpetuate more fraud by allowing the past fraud to go unpunished. Sooner or later it catches up with them. Let’s just hope it is sooner rather than later.
Greg: excellent as always! My daughter is looking to buy a house(upgrade). I told her to make sure she and her husband see the original mortgage note and have nothing to do with MERS. Was this good advice or am I simply paranoid?
“Tell them to put their down payment money into physical coins and wait a few years and rent.”
That is exactly what my wife and I are doing. We’ve more than doubled our original amount since 2009 and I buy more (silver) whenever I can. With any luck we’ll be able to buy a house outright in a few years. We’re also learning to grow our own food which my daughter is enjoying immensely, and we’ll be building a greenhouse in the spring – should be fun.
The one positive aspect about this tragic situation is that we still have time to protect ourselves and prepare for the future.
The only flaw to your logic is the assumption of available credit. Credit is NOT going to be available. When we hit Argentine inflation rates, you will have to pay cash. You and I disagree on this point. IF you have physical assets, and you can qualify now, I would buy based on it being better to have something and allow inflation to eat into the payments than the other way around. But as I said, this plan involves having assets that will not be impacted by inflation. Why do I think this? I have acquaintances in the second and third world. There you buy a house, you pay cash. And the valuation is not as cheap as you think it would be either. Just my “silver dime” worth of thoughts.
Good job as usual on Sussman’s show.
Last year, a former hedge fund manager, Shah Gilani, said,
“If suits against MERS and all its members are successful, unpaid recording fees and fines (that can be as much as $10,000 per incident) would make every one of them insolvent.”
– before the bailout THEY ALL WERE INSOLVENT!
We need to quit fooling ourselves and stop trying to resurrect the dead!
MERS was created to cheat local county governments out of the recording fees. Well, F#@K the banksters!
Considering that the Feds own 97% of the mortgages in the USA, now may be the time to say “DEBT FORGIVENESS”. The banksters have screwed up the chain of title so badly….debt forgiveness may be the only choice…..
And, considering BHO, needs something big, to get him re-elected, MORTGAGE DEBT FORGIVENESS, along with, STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS…..BHO WINS BY A LANDSLIDE!
We are doomed.
We make up are own laws and save your state the trouble. Greg your one crazyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy guy, I’m Bipolar and all thinking people will be before long.
next an EMP attack will whipe out their electronic data with no backup ……
and the paper trail will rise from the grave in their own image!
OH Lord Bankster!
Greg, this is where the public stands as far as our government is concerned! If this does not explain how MERS works for bankers,nothing will.
Since 1980 the conviction rate of Americans stands at 99% in federal courts,as a rule federal judges rule in favor of the government. There is no incentive to obay any law when prosecutors & all judges have Absolute Immunity that is even in direct conflict with our Constitution that states they must Faithfully execute the Laws & hold office Only for maintaining Good Behavior, the end results, Corruption Flourishes through out all parts of government!
Plea rate is 98.5%. From the Wall Street Journal,”insider trading” the gov was going after family members to force targets to plead guilty to avoid any trials,Pleas should be Un-Constitutional for it’s coercing confessions by threatening 2 to 5 times the penalty unless you plead. You are Punished for going to trial & if a jury acquits you on 9 of 10 counts, you are still sentenced no different than had a jury had found you guilty. Why? Federal Judges have said if you are then acquitted by a jury, THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE INNOCENT, ONLY THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT PROVE BEYOND A REASONAL DOUBT THAT YOU WERE GUILTY! Thus in America, you can never be innocent since a jury can’t find you innocent, only Not sufficiently guilty under that standard of proof. Thus, the GOVERNMENT CAN NOT NEVER BE WRONG, that is the Sad state of affairs we are subject to in the good old USA!(Is this how lawyers for the banks came up with MERS?)
This blocks all of our futures! It keeps corruption in place,for no citizen has the Right to bring charges for anything against Government officials. Thus federal judges & prosecutors have “Crowned themselves ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY”, & no citizen has no rights to bring charges against them,even if the prosecutor Raped your wife, or shot your family pet. ONLY “if” the gov desires to prosecute him will there ever be any such case! The government knows we have no power to prosecute them in any court any where anytime. This why we have no real Free Press(MSM) as long as gov has this power over the people.
Government has to be return to its original form, where a REAL IMPARTIAL ARBITRATOR TO STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF A DISPUTE AND SOLVES THE PROBLEM! Our gov uses criminal law to cover up it’s on corruption & prevents the press from telling the truth. We have no future if those in power fail to relinquish power they hold over the people, to where it’s government “By the People”!
We know who has the power over our government & most of the worlds governments & it was planned & they are caring out their plans by the controls they have over our government across the board. Just as the Bernank whos answered to when asked the last time that the USA was Debt free, his answer,that was before the Civil War, well it was his same bosses then that financed both the North & South to gain maximal profits during the Civil War, just like today, the same bosses control the flow of information that pours gas on the flames of the worlds civil unrest!
Greg, there is more about MERS my nephew is going to send me, he has been in mortgage & rental business for a very long time & has helped home owners save their homes & rental properties, I can’t wait to pass it on. More great work Greg, have peaceful weekend!
Greg, I’m not sure there are any good guys here. Between the banks, who screw us, and the governments, who screw us, we are just basically screwed.
What Thigpen wants, like all agents of government, is more money for his industry. His interest is in growing his little fief. There’s nothing in that for me or you.
As for BofA, I have had an account with them for over 15 years, and I always feel like I’m doing business with the mafia. They will nickle and dime you to death if you aren’t careful, and they often engage in actions that can only be described as “predatory.”
An acquaintance of mine, who is the one of the largest rental property holders in Guilford county, had several hundred apartment units “stolen” by BofA when he was late filing his property taxes. BofA was watching him like a hawk and rushed in to pay the lien.
Legal? So I’m told. Scummy? Absolutely.
As a homeowner in Guilford county, with a mortgage through BofA, I can’t say I’m reassured by Thigpen’s actions.
It’s a bit like watching a fight between two crocodiles while you are swimming across the river. You really aren’t pulling for either side, because the winner will still try to eat you.
Laser Guided Loogie
This is a good summary. But the challenges to MERS have been going on for years, and there are other challenges not mentioned.
1. At least 28 states had signed on a suit against MERS as of 6 mos. ago.
2. MERS standing as an unregistered foreign (DE) corp has made its ability to foreclose in any other state questionable.
3. The 20,000+ “Assistant Vice Presidents” (bank officers appointed to execute MERS foreclosures) are not validly appointed according to MERS bylaws.
4. Recent cases (e.g. Agard) suggest that MERS cannot be an agent for NY trusts that own @ half of the securitized loans.
5. MERS has already advised members to stop foreclosing in MERS name.
There are other developments, but it appears MERS days are numbered.
MERS foreclosures stopped in Oregon. Isn’t it kind of B oF A giving people in foreclosure a last ditch effort to keep from getting evicted.
Give me a break. They got caught. Congrees will try to give MERS a Hail Mary pass, but hopefully they won’t and those who started this fraud will be presecuted at long last.
The auction (Trustee Sale) of my mountain cabin has been cancelled. The key was the title company that had guaranteed the Trustee Sale. By contacting the legal department of the title company, the senior counsel of the legal department got the auction cancelled.
I had been battling CitiMortgage for years because they were sending statements with the wrong address. Finally, I stopped making payments. And they Citi foreclosed on the wrong property.
I want to emphasize that people need to start by contacting the title companies that guarantee the Trustee Sales. The title company guaranteeing the accuracy of the Trustee Sales has the power to cancel the auction/Trustee Sale.
If my attorney had handled this matter, it would have cost me thousands of dollars. However, since I’m self-employed, I was able to devote the time and energy required to calling and sending e-mails for weeks to get the auction/Trustee Sale stopped.
Not sure if the actions I took would apply to the problems associated with MERS. However, it is the Title Company that guarantees these Trustee Sales. And it is the Title Company that has the power to get the Trustee Sale cancelled.
Obviously, there needs to be a means in which people can fight these defective foreclosures without being forced to hire an attorney. People should not be required to spend thousands of dollars to get justice when they are victims of illegal acts. We should be able to file a complaint with the local District Attorney and get help.
There are two million more forecloser coming , anybody that thinks thing are going get better is suupid!!!
Does anybody know for sure whether a bank acknowledges the liability of the mortgage on their books in a MERS loan when MERS is the mortgagee? Would a regulator even see the mortgage liability – or is it completely ignored? Passed on the to Trust? Or hanging by a thread in the ether in MERS?
I ask because the FDIC doesn’t appear to show very many mortgage loans (24,000+/-). http://www2.fdic.gov/sdi/main.asp
wonderful post-keep ’em coming
I agree with you 100%. In fact in a recent ruling it was found that MERS is an entity that has defrauded agencies of such fees as in your case and that they are not the rightful entity to foreclose on anyones property. I am preparing a lawsuit in California at this time against Bank of America’s use of such tactics.
I wonder if Congress will take an active interest in MERS at any point, or whether they will keep quiet as beneficiaries of the perceived boondoggle.
Taking note of your article on this subject. Lost my primary home, which was a cabin 45 minutes away from the local town. First had my loan through Countrywide. Which later was bought out by Bank of America. The only document I received was through the mail from B of A making me aware they bought out my loan from Countrywide. My payment started out as 1308.00 a month of 2007. By the year 2010 it reached up to 1927.00 a month!!! My loan original was a 30 year fixed FHS loan. We up to this day, don’t know why the increase. Bank of America would not work with our hardship we applied for at the time in 2009. Behold it turned into a foreclosure!! We looked into the local newspaper to see it being up for sale as a foreclosure. It never listed, but new owner’s now live in it and have been living it to this day! I believe the real estate agent trying to help us sell the property before loosing to a foreclosure stuck his dirty paws into the new remodled livingroom/kitchem home. Anyways, we now receive a National Mortgage Settlement documents stating we are listed as a part of a class action and could be entitled to as much as 840.00 for wrongly mortgage servicers committed various errors and abuses in their mortgages processes. What does this mean? Have you ever heard of such a lawsuit?
I read this article completely concerning the resemblance of hottest and earlier technologies, it’s awesome article.
Somehow, I can picture the Big, Bad Wolf in a three piece pinstripe saying, “The better to circumvent honest record-keeping and cheat you out of your home, my dear!”