14.4 Seconds is Not a Reasonable Inquiry Under Any Circumstances

Last week, in an article for the New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg included this tidbit:

In a 2009 deposition, an employee of a large debt-buying company testified to signing roughly 2,000 affidavits a day.

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Robo-Signers at Debt Buyer Firms Overwhelm Courts

The foreclosure mess got messier over a month ago, when GMAC, Bank of America, and others were caught faking (essentially) affidavits supporting their foreclosure lawsuits. The irony of banks acting irresponsibly with their finances was not lost on the media. Of course, robo-signing, as it was soon termed, was already commonplace in another kind of business: debt buyers.

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The Affidavit Faking Continues: Chase Suspends 56,000 Foreclosures

While judges were looking the other way, a new fad was apparently sweeping the mortgage lending industry: robo-signers. A robo-signer is a person whose job is to put their signature on an affidavit, regardless whether they know what they are signing or whether it is true.

First GMAC/Ally Bank “discovered” that their representatives were signing affidavits without checking their facts. It stopped its foreclosures, as a result (probably a wise move when perpetrating a fraud on the courts). Now, it looks like Chase bank has the same robo-signer problem. In fact, this is a problem in many areas of law where lawyers try to turn the courts into a rubber stamp or assembly line.

That this is happening is no surprise to anyone with any knowledge of the debt collection industry. The interesting question, though, is this: will the scandal spread to other industries where robo-signing is common?

GMAC Caught Faking Affidavits, Stops Foreclosures

GMAC, a large mortgage lender, has been foreclosing like mad, apparently without bothering to check its facts. Here is an excerpt from a deposition of GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephen:

Q. So other than the due date and the balances due, is it correct that you do not know whether any other part of the affidavit that you sign is true?

A. That could be correct.

In short, the affidavits might as well be faked. Caught in the act, GMAC has stopped evicting homeowners and foreclosing mortgages in 23 states. Or mostly stopped, anyway.

Believe it or not, there are laws against this sort of thing. It’s just that nobody has bothered to enforce them.