Why All the Robo-signing? Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 19th that the Obama Administration was pushing heavily to get the 50 state attorneys general to agree to a settlement with five major banks in the “robo-signing” scandal.  The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed.  Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes.  If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion. 

 To the President’s credit, however, he seems to have shifted his position on the settlement in response to protests before his State of the Union address.  In his speech on January 24th, President Obama did not mention the settlement but announced instead that he would be creating a mortgage crisis unit to investigate wrongdoing related to real estate lending.  “This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans,” he said.

The Deeper Question Is Why

Whether massive robo-signing occurred is no longer in issue.  The question that needs to be investigated is why it was being done.  The alleged justification—that the bankers were so busy that they cut corners—hardly seems credible given the extent of the practice. 

The robo-signing largely involved assignments of mortgage notes to mortgage servicers or trusts representing the investors who put up the loan money.  Assignment was necessary to give the trusts legal title to the loans.  But assignment was delayed until it was necessary to foreclose on the homes, when it had to be done through the forgery and fraud of robo-signing.  Why had it been delayed?  Why did the banks not assign the mortgages to the trusts when and as required by law?

Here is a working hypothesis, suggested by Martin Andelman: securitized mortgages are the “pawns” used in the pawn shop known as the “repo market.”  “Repos” are overnight sales and repurchases of collateral.  Yale economist Gary Gorton explains that repos are the “deposit insurance” for the shadow banking system, which is now larger than the conventional banking system and is necessary for the conventional system to operate.  The problem is that repos require “sales,” which means the mortgage notes have to remain free to be bought and sold.  The mortgages are left unendorsed so they can be used in this repo market.

The Evolution of the Shadow Banking System

Gorton observes that there is a massive and growing demand for banking by large institutional investors – pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds – which have millions of dollars to park somewhere between investments.  But FDIC insurance covers only up to $250,000.  FDIC insurance was resisted in the 1930s by bankers and government officials and was pushed through as a populist movement: the people demanded it.  What they got was enough insurance to cover the deposits of individuals and no more.  Today, the large institutional investors want similar coverage.  They want an investment that is secure, that provides them with a little interest, and that is liquid like a traditional deposit account, allowing quick withdrawal.

The shadow banking system evolved in response to this need, operating largely through the repo market. “Repos” are sales and repurchases of highly liquid collateral, typically Treasury debt or mortgage-backed securities—the securitized units into which American real estate has been ground up and packaged, sausage-fashion. The collateral is bought by a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV), which acts as the shadow bank. The investors put their money in the SPV and keep the securities, which substitute for FDIC insurance in a traditional bank. (If the SPV fails to pay up, the investors can foreclose on the securities.) To satisfy the demand for liquidity, the repos are one-day or short-term deals, continually rolled over until the money is withdrawn. This money is used by the banks for other lending, investing or speculating. Gorton writes:

This banking system (the “shadow” or “parallel” banking system)—repo based on securitization—is a genuine banking system, as large as the traditional, regulated banking system.  It is of critical importance to the economy because it is the funding basis for the traditional banking system. Without it, traditional banks will not lend and credit, which is essential for job creation, will not be created.

All Behind the Curtain of MERS

The housing shell game was made possible because it was all concealed behind an electronic smokescreen called MERS (an acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.).  MERS allowed houses to be shuffled around among multiple, rapidly changing owners while circumventing local recording laws.  Title would be recorded in the name of MERS as a place holder for the investors, and MERS would foreclose on behalf of the investors.  Payments would be received by the mortgage servicer, which was typically the bank that signed the mortgage with the homeowner.  The homeowner usually thinks the servicer is the lender, but in fact it is an amorphous group of investors.         

This all worked until courts started questioning whether MERS, which admitted that it was a mere conduit without title, had standing to foreclose.  Courts have increasingly held that it does not. 

Making matters worse for the servicing banks, Fannie Mae sent out a memo telling servicers that in order to be reimbursed under HAMP—a government loan modification program designed to help at-risk homeowners meet their mortgage payments—the servicers would have to produce the paperwork showing the loan had been assigned to the trust.

The hasty solution was a rash of assignments signed by an army of “robosigners,” to be filed in the public records.  But the documents are patent forgeries, making a shambles of county title records. 

Complicating all this are tax issues.  Since 1986, mortgage-backed securities have been issued to investors through SPVs called REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits).  REMICs are designed as tax shelters; but to qualify for that status, they must be “static.”  Mortgages can’t be transferred in and out once the closing date has occurred.  The REMIC Pooling and Servicing Agreement typically states that any transfer significantly after the closing date is invalid.  Yet the newly robo-signed documents, which are required to begin foreclosure proceedings, are almost always executed long after the trust’s closing date.  The whole business is quite complicated, but the bottom line is that title has been clouded not only by MERS but because the trusts purporting to foreclose do not own the properties by the terms of their own documents.

John O’Brien, Register of Deeds for the Southern Essex District of Massachusetts, calls it a “criminal enterprise.”  On January 18th, he called for a full scale criminal investigation, including a grand jury to look into the evidence.  He sent to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz over 30,000 documents recorded in the Salem Registry that he says are fraudulent. 

From Lending Machines to Borrowing Machines

The bankers have engaged in what amounts to a massive fraud, not necessarily because they started out with criminal intent, but because they have been required to in order to come up with the collateral (in this case real estate) to back their loans.  It is the way our system is set up: the banks are not really creating credit and advancing it to us, counting on our future productivity to pay it off, the way they once did under the deceptive but functional façade of fractional reserve lending.  Instead, they are vacuuming up our money and lending it back to us at higher rates.  

“Instead of lending into the economy,” says British money reformer Ann Pettifor, “bankers are borrowing from the real economy.”  She wrote in the Huffington Post in October 2010:

[T]he crazy facts are these: bankers now borrow from their customers and from taxpayers. They are effectively draining funds from household bank accounts, small businesses, corporations, government Treasuries and from e.g. the Federal Reserve. They do so by charging high rates of interest and fees; by demanding early repayment of loans; by illegally foreclosing on homeowners, and by appropriating, and then speculating with trillions of dollars of taxpayer-backed resources.

Not only has the system destroyed county title records, but it is highly vulnerable to bank runs and systemic collapse.  In the shadow banking system, as in the old fractional reserve banking system, the collateral is being double-counted: it is owed to the borrowers and the depositors at the same time.  This allows for expansion of the money supply, but bank runs can occur when the borrowers and the depositors demand their money at the same time.  And unlike the conventional banking system, the shadow banking system is largely unregulated.  It doesn’t have the backup of FDIC insurance to prevent bank runs.    

That is what happened in September 2008 following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, a major investment bank.  Gary Gorton explains that it was a run on the shadow banking system that caused the credit collapse that followed.  Investors rushed to pull their money out overnight.  LIBOR—the London interbank lending rate for short-term loans—shot up to around 5%.  Since the cost of borrowing the money to cover loans was too high for banks to turn a profit, lending abruptly came to a halt. 

Fixing the System

The question is how to eliminate this systemic risk.  As noted by The Business Insider:

Regulate shadow banking more tightly, and you probably have to also provide government backstops. Shudder. Try to shut the thing down or restrict it and you suck credit out of the system, credit which much of the non-financial “’real” economy uses and needs.

Interestingly, countries with strong public sector banking systems largely escaped the 2008 credit crisis.  These include the BRIC countries—Brazil Russia, India, and China—which contain 40% of the global population and are today’s fastest growing economies.  They escaped because their public sector banks do not need to rely on repos and securitizations to back their loans.  The banks are owned and operated by the ultimate guarantor—the government itself.  The public sector banking model deserves further study. 

Whatever the solution, a system that requires the slicing and dicing of mortgages behind an electronic smokescreen so they can be bought and sold as collateral for the pawn shop of the repo market is obviously fraught with perils and is unsustainable.  Please contact your state attorney general and urge him or her not to go through with the robo-signing settlement, which will be granting immunity for crimes that are not yet fully known.  Phone numbers are here.  The surface of this great shadowy second banking system has barely been scratched.  It needs a very thorough investigation.    

____________ 

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com.

 

32 Responses

  1. During he great depression, Americans demanded a stable store of value and not necessarily FDIC insurance. FDIC was a give away to the bankers. FDIC is a subsidy to the banksters by the tax payers.

  2. Let’s start our own political party. http://www.videojug.com/interview/how-to-start-a-political-party

    An Occupy Party would unite all Occupy people and put a sensible person in congress.

  3. [...] Why All the Robo-signing? Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System (webofdebt.wordpress.com) [...]

  4. The USA has over 2.4 million people in jail, and over 13 million pass through U.S. prisons and jails annually(Press TV.com,YoU.S. Desk). Most of these people are poor, black, latino, US Indian, etc.
    Reading this article paints a mind boggling picture of Corporate criminality, with no apparent accountability, nor penalty.
    The Constitution has been trashed, the Geneva Convention has been trashed, Freedom and Democracy have been trashed, Habeus Corpus has been trashed. Guantanamo Bay remains a ‘legal black hole’ in American law.
    Not one banker has been jailed following the “Banking Meltdown” of 2008
    It doesn’t matter who the American people vote for, because it changes nothing.
    What on Earth has happened to the USA?

    • B. Harry, what happened was a political and cultural US citizens revolution in the 1960’s and 1970’s that was stymied and replaced with forty years of counter-revolution. The Civil Rights and Anti-War Movements of the 1960’s inspired other groups to demand their rights. By the 1970’s some gains were made by the Women’s Movement, the Gay Movement and the Enviromental Movement and the Consumer Protection Movement.

      Those gains frightened and enraged the military/industrial/governmental complex who were then known as “The Establishment”. They decided to push back following the lead of the “Powell Manifesto” (http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate_accountability/powell_memo_lewis.html), named after a memo penned by former US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell in 1971. The Powell Manifesto suggested a series of actions that American businesses, universities, media and politicians could take to shift power and influence from the American people (direct democracy) back to “The Establishment”.

      They decided to create movement infrastructure in the form of think tanks, business trade associations and increased funding for politicians who believed in the primacy of the “free enterprise system” over the needs of citizens and democracy. They also worked to actively suppress the voices and actions of the various citizen’s movements through ridicule, censorship, misinformation campaigns and withdrawal of funding.

      Special attention was directed in funding media and organizations that stoked division and resentment against African-Americans, feminist women, gays and the poor. Jean Hardisty’s book, “Mobilizing Resentment” goes into great depth about that aspect of the counter-revolution.

      Mobilizing resentment against these groups in particular was necessary to destroying budding coalitions between various sectors of American society and forestalling future movements. These moblilizations also served as a terrific distraction for the European-American majority. They were so focused on “criminal drug gangs”, “radical” feminists, the “Homosexual Agenda”, “Welfare Queens” and later “illegal aliens” that they did not notice the increasing lawlessness of businesses, the military and the politicians.

      The corruption of the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial is discussed in detail in the book, “Winner-Take-All Politics: Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class” by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. They discuss their observations with Professor Robert McChesney on this episode of the radio show Media Matters: http://audio01.will.illinois.edu/mediamatters110814.mp3

      This process ocurred so gradually that most Americans did not notice the changes until they were personally affected. The counter-revolution that Powell advocated for is in full flower. Only time will tell if America will suffer a protracted period of Oligarchy or if the citizens will regain their footing and restore this country to a democratic republic.

      • Link777, thank you for the effort you made to explain so eloquently, the causes of America’s current woes. It confirms my(and others) view that the USA is no longer a Democracy, but an Oligarchy, run by a very powerful elite who tightly control the 99% for the benefit of the 1%.
        It makes a mockery of the U.S election process, and the Congress who are supposed to represent the people.
        The problem is, the 1% control the world’s most powerful military arsenal, but this 1% also seem to put Israel’s interests before the interests of the USA.
        With a national debt of $15 trillion dollars, and the possibility that this will very quickly rise to $20 trillion and beyond, if the USA attacks Iran, the question is, how long are the American people going to allow this to continue? The Media/Networks are complicit in the demise of Democracy and are beneath contempt.
        My best wishes to the American people.

      • Link 777. This is great! Would you care if I shared?

        • Your very welcome………May I also say that slavery was outlawed 160 years ago, and you’re no longer allowed to chain people up and whip them to make them work.
          Slave owners have now been replaced by “Predatory Bankers”. All they have to do now is lend you (and nations, by the way) more money than you can afford to repay, and they then own you, and when the Bank has a mortgage over your home, you’ll put up with any authoritarian abuse to to keep it for your family.
          And when Bankers lend lot’s of money to everyone, it makes the prices rise, so that you have to go deeper into debt to buy one. It may not actually be slavery, but it is effectively, the same.

  5. The more we learn about our current banking system, the uglier it looks. Incredible as it may seem, behind the crooked behemoth banks, there is a parallel or shadow banking system that is working with and feeding from the same trough as the banks.

    Creating an investigating unit, headed by Schneiderman, is a great move by Obama as Ellen Brown says in this great article. Schneiderman needs feedback from unit, and should hold the parties who committed those crimes accountable. I agree that the banks’ excuse about cutting corners is BS. and that we should NOT let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would send the rest of us- if we committed such crimes as FRAUD, FORGERY AND SECURITIES VIOLATIONS – to jail.

    Why the banks did not assign the mortgages to the trusts as required by law is a great question.

    Ellen Brown explains this by revealing a “shadow banking system” that is behind the already exposed and corrupt banking system that we have. The banks apparently are a perfect vehicle or instrument for the “growing demand for banking by large institutional investors – pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds – which have millions of dollars to park somewhere between investments”. The big investors want coverage. They want an investment that gives them security with interest, and one that is liquid like a traditional deposit account, allowing quick withdrawal. Wouldn’t it be nice if the 99% also had such opportunities!

    So, as Ellen explains, a shadow banking system evolved to fill this “need” that the big investors have. The shadow or parallel banking system—repo based on securitization—“is a genuine banking system, as large as the traditional, regulated banking system. It is the funding basis for the traditional banking system. Without it, traditional banks will not lend and credit, which is essential for job creation, will not be created.”

    Well, as dysfunctional and rotten as our current traditional banking system is, the shadow banking system fueling it appears equally dark. Until we dig deeper, it appears to lie at the core of corruption, and should also have a full-scale criminal investigation.

    As I understand it, in our banking system there is a symbiotic relationship between the banksters and the large institutional investors. They are interconnected. Our banks are not really “creating credit and advancing it to us, counting on our future productivity to pay it off, the way they once did under the deceptive but functional façade of fractional reserve lending. Instead, they are vacuuming up our money and lending it back to us at higher rates.”
    This is insane. Instead of lending into the economy, according to Ann Pettifor, “bankers are borrowing from the real economy”. She goes onto say is that bankers now borrow from their customers and us, the taxpayers”. What they are doing is draining funds from household bank accounts, small businesses, corporations, government Treasuries and from the Federal Reserve, and we the 99%.. They do this by charging high interest and fees, demanding early repayment of loans, illegally foreclosing on homeowners, and then speculating with trillions of dollars of taxpayer-backed resources.

    We need to stop this group of money-launderers, blood sucking vampire squids, and vulture capitalists. Ellen has made so many good suggestions.

    We should keep on exposing what is going on, hold the banks accountable, get rid of fractional reserve lending, and set up state and county banks on the model of North Dakota.

  6. Can we get a 20 minute 10 slide PowerPoint explaining this? Great work Ellen. You have once again cast a much needed light into the dark shadows of the world-wide banking system.

  7. I told Lawrence Waden: Please do not go through with the robo-signing settlement, which will be granting immunity for crimes that are not yet fully known. The surface of this great shadowy second banking system has barely been scratched. It needs a very thorough investigation.

  8. [...] Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System Ellen Brown, Op-Ed: “The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.” [...]

  9. [...] Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System Ellen Brown, Op-Ed: “The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.” [...]

  10. “The bankers have engaged in what amounts to a massive fraud, not necessarily because they started out with criminal intent, but because they have been required to in order to come up with the collateral (in this case real estate) to back their loans.”

    ***
    Can someone clarify this ? How are they required to commit the fraud? Did they paint themselves into a corner by using their new-found freedom to gambol with money they didn’t have?

    Or is there some other legally binding condition for this statement that I am not aware of?

    Once I get the answer I will post it as a comment.

    • Hi, I guess that was a bit cryptic. I actually pulled it from the draft of the book I’m working on on public banking, which is more discursive! Basically though, it’s because we think of money as a “thing,” something that has to “be there” before it can be borrowed. In fact, we’re no longer on a gold standard; there is no commodity backing our money. Credit today is just a monetization of your future promise to repay. It could be advanced by a PUBLIC bank without anything backing it and without drawing from any pre-existing fund. But we’re stuck on the idea that “money” is a commodity in itself that has to be located before it can be lent.

      • So, the fraud is the emperor’s clothes that are not there. The fraud is the concept that “money” is backed by something of value, when it is not. The investments are not backed by a clean title so they are also worthless, and, who knows what the true value of the property is anyway.

  11. [...] http://webofdebt.wordpress.com Recent: Why All the Robo-signing? Shedding … [...]

  12. Robot signing is shure used in Canada too, and public banks would be shure welcome, even if we have at least credit unions, see — OhCanadaMovie.com — on how Canadian privatized banking works, evwen if as in US, our constitution mention for a public central bank .

  13. Economist – Clifford Hugh Douglas,s – social-credit system – was nearly tried in Canada, promoting public banks, no-interest loans (for social construction needs like schools, roads, water and energy systems, hospitals, etc…) and dividends to citizens from the country,s production and resources, but private banks lobbeys opposed to it strongly, so was never enforced.

  14. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  15. […] Ellen Brown Featured Writer Dandelion Salad webofdebt.com February 4, […]

  16. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  17. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  18. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  19. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  20. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done through the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  21. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done through the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  22. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  23. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  24. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  25. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

  26. […] For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.) […]

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