The 150-page manual details how to process foreclosures when a required document known as an endorsement is missing, according to a Washington Post report. Lenders must have an endorsement, which proves they own the mortgage, before they can foreclose. The manual also outlines what to do if an affidavit is lost or if there is no documentation showing a history of who owned the loan, the Post reported.
“This is a blueprint for fraud,” bankruptcy lawyer Linda Tirelli, who filed the suit, told the Post. “The idea that this bank is instructing people how to produce these documents is appalling.”
Tirelli told the Post that she had long-standing suspicions that Wells Fargo was manufacturing mortgage documents. She said she’d handled a number of cases in which mortgage notes had no endorsements. When she brought it to Wells Fargo’s attention, she said, the bank “magically” produced the required documentation. Tirelli told the Post that it happened so often that she and other consumer lawyers started calling the paperwork “ta-da” documents.
Wells Fargo, meanwhile, insists that its foreclosure practices are legal.
“What’s so unfortunate here is the exaggeration on behalf of litigation,” bank spokesperson Vickee Adams told the Post.
Within days of the lawsuit’s being filed, both New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the New York Department of Financial Services requested copies of the manual, the Post reported. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also reportedly looking into the matter.
Wells Fargo is facing a lawsuit over a guide that tells its employees how to produce missing documents in order to foreclose on homeowners.