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Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud

  • Author: David Dayen
  • Publisher: The New Press, 320 pages

Their names are Lisa Epstein, Michael Redman, and Lynn Szymoniak. In 2009, they were living in Florida, and like many others in the Sunshine State, facing the loss of their homes in the subprime mortgage crisis. Then, they did something lenders never expected - they actually read their mortgage papers. There they uncovered the tip of a massive scam, with banks and mortgage companies faking millions of foreclosure documents and illegally forcing families from their homes.

Fiscal Times journalist David Dayen tells their stories in this 2016 book that picks up where The Big Short left off. He explores how some lenders and servicers engaged in shoddy practices and illegal shortcuts as the market for subprime mortgage securities boomed. They failed to properly transfer ownership among banks, servicers, investors and trustees. When the housing market collapsed, banks and mortgage companies that couldn’t prove they owned a homeowner’s mortgage foreclosed anyway, hiring third party firms and robo-signers to fabricate documents after the fact. The assumption was no one would ever know. And as the book explores, some judges and courts looked the other way - until a few ordinary folks figured out the whole scheme. If you want to understand the subprime mortgage fiasco, you’ll find this book both useful and concerning.

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