Firm claims 75% of mortgage assignments invalid in Mass. county
Three-quarters of mortgage assignments issued to and from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BAC) during 2010 in Massachusetts are allegedly invalid, according to a mortgage forensics firm that reviewed a sampling of assignments in the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds. McDonnell Property Analytics, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in providing consumers with data to challenge the standing of banks and other entities during foreclosure, said that its own review of mortgage assignments in the Massachusetts county found that 75% of recent mortgage assignments are invalid. About 27% of invalid assignments are fraudulent, McDonnell claimed, while 35% are robo-signed and 10% violate the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute. The firm did not detail how it determined that an assignment was valid or invalid, but said it could only determine the financial institution that owned the mortgage in 60% of the cases it reviewed. McDonnell said it found 683 missing assignments for the 287 mortgages it traced, representing about $180,000 in lost recording fees. "What this means is that the degradation in standards of commerce by which the banks originated, sold and securitized these mortgages are so fatally flawed that the institutions, including many pension funds, that purchased these mortgages don’t actually own them," according to the firm. "The assignments of mortgage were never prepared, executed and delivered to them in the normal course of business at the time of the transaction." John O'Brien, register of deeds for Essex County in the northeastern corner of Massachusetts, urged state attorneys general for a third time on Wednesday to cease settlement talks with the nation's largest servicers due to what he believes are widespread document problems. In May, O'Brien sent a letter to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller for this same purpose. He has been among the nation's most vocal public officials regarding alleged document signing abuses, included robo-signing; the Southern Essex County registrar's website, run by O'Brien's office and featuring his name on the homepage, offers users the ability to search what his office claims are 25,187 robo-signed documents. "My registry is a crime scene as evidenced by this forensic examination," claimed O'Brien. "This evidence has made it clear to me that the only way we can ever determine the total economic loss and the amount damage done to the taxpayers is by conducting a full forensic audit of all registry of deeds in Massachusetts." Write to Christine Ricciardi.