In a lawsuit filed today against GMAC Mortgage, LLC and its parent, Ally Financial Inc., Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray accuses the loan servicer and its agents of filing fraudulent affidavits to mislead courts in hundreds of Ohio foreclosures.
"We know that as Ohioans were fighting to save their homes, this loan servicer benefited financially from the dire circumstances," said Cordray. "Instead of stepping up and assisting those at risk of losing their homes, it is clear that GMAC chose to compound the problem through fraudulent and unfair and deceptive practices."
According to the lawsuit filed today in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, GMAC and its employees committed fraud on Ohio consumers and Ohio courts by signing and filing hundreds of false affidavits in foreclosure cases. The fraud came to light after a GMAC employee, Jefferey Stephan of Sellersville, Pa., testified in a foreclosure case out of Maine that from 2006 to 2010, he signed thousands of affidavits without verifying the content.
Through the lawsuit, Cordray is asking the court to grant a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing GMAC/Ally from proceeding to foreclose in any pending Ohio case or allowing the property to be sold. Cordray is also asking for civil penalties of up to $25,000 for every violation of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and for consumer restitution.
As a result of similar reports regarding depositions taken by a JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America employees, Cordray today also requested that JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America suspend moving toward a judgment, sale, eviction or property transfer involving any foreclosure case with affidavits signed by those employees. Cordray also sent letters to Wells Fargo and Citibank, requesting that the banks meet with his office to discuss foreclosure affidavit procedures.
According to recent statistics from the Ohio Supreme Court, the wave of foreclosures in Ohio has shown no signs of receding. In the first half of this year, there have been 45,930 foreclosures in Ohio, which is ahead of last year's record-breaking pace. From 1995-2009, Ohio foreclosure filings quadrupled.
In July 2009, Cordray was the first attorney general in the nation to file a lawsuit against a loan servicer for violations of the state's consumer laws. His office currently has cases pending against three loan servicers: Carrington Mortgage Services LLC, American Home Mortgage Services Inc. and Barclays Capital Real Estate dba HomEq Servicing. Last month, a Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge affirmed Cordray's case against HomeEq by overruling the defendant's motion to dismiss which has cleared the way for Cordray's case to move forward.