Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Countrywide Makes it Up

Here's a fun one. According to a report in today's New York Times, Countrywide admitted that it fabricated--or in its lawyers words, "recreated"--documents in a bankruptcy case. Countrywide used three letters that it claimed to have sent to the borrower and used them as the basis for claiming that the borrower owed Countrywide $4,700.

Here's the url for reference. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/business/08lend.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

Countrywide's claim that the borrower owed money is particularly problematic. According to the news report, the borrower had successfully completed her bankruptcy plan, a plan that Countrywide passed on without objection. After completion of the bankruptcy plan, Countrywide sent the borrower a notice of intention to foreclose based on the fabricated documents.

Countrywide sent the borrower's lawyer "copies" of three letters sent previously. Or so Countrywide claimed. Interestingly, the oldest of the three letters was addressed to an office address that the lawyer would move into well after the date of the first letter. Nice work at the documents department.

In the predatory lending crisis, there are those who want to put all of the blame on borrowers for failing to take responsibility. While there will be plenty of blame to go around before the whole story comes out, this story doesn't exactly bathe Countrywide in a righteous light. It will be interesting to see whether this type of conduct was widespread, or whether it was a rare instance of misconduct.

David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC

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