Bloomberg.com by Prashant Gopal
Bryan Bly is a pen-wielding “robo- signer” at Nationwide Title Clearing Inc., inking his name on an average 5,000 mortgage documents a day for companies such as Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Those are just the ones that cross his desk.
Nationwide Title employs a computer system that automatically inserts a copy of Bly’s signature on thousands of digital files that he never sees. The system even affixes an electronic notary seal.
“The problem with the way these documents are created isn’t because a computer is used,” said Gloria Einstein, a legal aid attorney in Green Cove Springs, Florida, who deposed Bly in a case in which her client faces foreclosure by a unit of Deutsche Bank AG. “It’s because an enterprise has decided to use a computer to create a system where nobody is responsible for the information and the decisions.”
The rush to securitize more than $4 trillion of mortgages as U.S. home sales peaked in 2005 and 2006 inundated loan servicers and contractors like Palm Harbor, Florida-based Nationwide Title that help them handle paperwork. Lawsuits fighting some of the more than 4 million foreclosures since then have exposed sloppy recordkeeping and raised questions about the validity of documents used to seize properties.
Signatures Draw Scrutiny
Bly is just one of more than a dozen robo-signers deposed in the past two years by lawyers for borrowers seeking to block foreclosures. Spurred by descriptions in depositions of employees signing thousands of affidavits a week without checking their accuracy as legally required, the attorneys general in all 50 states last month opened an investigation into whether banks and loan servicers used faulty documents or improper practices to foreclose.
Nationwide Title, which has about 175 employees, provides document imaging, tracking, retrieval, recording and processing on bulk loan transfers for lenders, servicers and investors. It’s the largest third-party processor of mortgage assignments, handling more than 350,000 last year, Senior Vice President Jeremy Pomerantz said in a telephone interview. The company also prepares lien releases, which show that a mortgage has been paid off by the borrower.
Assignments, which are usually recorded with county land record departments, list the buyer and seller of a loan as it’s sold or packaged with other loans into a mortgage-backed security. Lawyers for homeowners are challenging the legitimacy of the documents, which are relied on by lenders to show they have the right to foreclose.
Batches of 30,000…