Crimes against the state: the Florida Mortgage Crisis

 

The Miami Herald investigative series, highlighting massive mortgage fraud and regulatory breakdown, triggered the resignation yesterday of the state’s top regulator for the financial industry, Don Saxton. (“Borrowers Betrayed: Florida’s top mortgage regulator steps down”, August 13, 2008)On his way out the door, literally, Saxon mumbled, “I have been contemplating this since long before the series came out, so this just seemed to be the perfect timing.”

It is also perfect timing for the editorial boards to connect the dots between the failure of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the dominant political ideology of the past decade that abjured regulation in favor of “the free market”. This may be easier to do, now that real estate advertisement revenue from the Growth Machine has dried up.

Saxon became the state’s chief financial regulator in 2003, through a new office created by the Jeb Bush administration. In his inaugural address in January 2003, Jeb perfectly articulated the triumphant anti-regulatory theme that echoes throughout the mortgage fraud crisis in which 10,000 felons were denied the right to vote but allowed employment opportunities to defraud the public.

“As the housing boom exploded in 2001, so did the number of people rushing into the mortgage industry, with loan originators leading the way. But as their numbers rose each year — 66 a day in 2005 — so did the number of former criminals. With home sales rising more than 20 percent a year in parts of Florida, mortgage companies were hiring loan originators at an unprecedented rate, state records show. ”Back then, it was such a feeding frenzy,” said David Velazquez, 37, a former loan originator in Broward who served time in prison for drug trafficking. ‘People were saying, `We need loan originators. We’ll train you.’ It was so busy. They were pulling in anyone they could.’ In all, more than 5,300 people with criminal histories rushed into Florida’s mortgage industry as loan originators since 2000. Even for people who had five or more convictions, there were no impediments to getting in.” (Miami Herald, “Thousand with criminal records work unlicensed as loan originators”)

In an earlier part of the Herald series, Saxon claimed to have offered regulatory reform proposals to a state legislator in 2005. That legislator, state representative Scott Randolph, is the only card-carrying liberal in the Florida legislature. Giving Randolph the mission to carry new regulations to the Florida legislature was like asking a tee-toteller to advocate no beer sales on Superbowl Sunday. Randolph said, “If they were trying to stir some urgency or interest, I probably wouldn’t have been the one” to talk with.

The Herald writes, “State leaders involved in mortgage industry legislation over the past five years said they favored the new proposals, but questioned why the agency took so long to press for changes.”

The state’s editorial boards must not let the assertion go unchallenged.

Saxon was doing what his boss wanted. This is what Governor Jeb Bush said in his 2003 inaugural address; “There will be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers; as silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.”

It would be interesting to know the row where Saxon sat, in that audience.

US Senator Mel Martinez R-FLA, former HUD Secretary, told the Herald, “”I knew we had a problem. I had no idea how bad.” Of coure, not.

Saxon was presiding over an agency that was fulfilling the mandate of the Republican Reformation: “Let 100,000 Subdivisions Bloom”. According to the Herald, “The state had the seventh-highest rate of mortgage fraud in the country in 2003. It ranked 5th in 2004, 3rd in 2005 and 1st in 2006 and 2007. By last year, one out of every five fraudulent mortgage applications filed in the United States was written in Florida, according the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, a Virginia-based industry analyst. But instead of more aggressive enforcement, state regulators actually did less. In fact, the single most effective tool they had, license revocations, declined as the fraud rate soared, records show.” (Miami Herald, “State let crooked brokers keep working”)

“We never suspected that someone could have been guilty of a felony for fraud and still have a license,” said Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, who chairs the committee that oversees the Office of Financial Regulation. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

At any rate, let’s hope the national newspapers’ editorial boards connect the dots for the public, if the state newspapers won’t. The Miami Herald editorial board, for instance, has been notoriously reticent from any criticism of economic interests tied to real estate development. Still, it must be obvious to the Herald board; from Al Hoffman and his bankrupt WCI Communities (Hoffman was finance chair for both campaigns of Jeb Bush and George W. Bush) to the lowest scam artist committing white collar crimes under Miami’s harsh sun, Don Saxon wasn’t a leader; he was simply following the trail of the housing boom and doing the work of a loyalist: considered as all of a piece, they amount to crimes against the state.

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11 Responses to Crimes against the state: the Florida Mortgage Crisis

  1. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  2. […] Alan Farago – Crimes against the state: the Florida Mortgage Crisis: “It is also perfect timing for the editorial boards to connect the dots between the failure […]

  3. Ray Shelton says:

    Predatory lenders find new ways to steal from the elderly Please read our story

    About Linear Capital, Barry Silber
    America’s Mortgage Broker’s Llc, Jim Marks
    Dale Group, Suzanne Marks of Tampa Florida
    Amanda Sigler Realty of Dunnellon, Florida

    COMPLAINTS FILED IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL DIVISION CASE # 09 13757

    PART OF COUNT I, II & III

    CRIMINAL USURY,

    CIVIL CONSPIRACY,

    ILLEGAL LOANS, MISAPPROPRIATED ASSETS, ETC ETC.

    UNATHORIZED REAL ESTATE PURCHASES AND SALES,

    ESTIMATES BY CONSPRIATORS own statement is 4.5 MILLION.

    WAITING FOR RESPONCE FROM SEVERAL

    STATE AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCMENT AGENCYS

    NEW COMPAINTS COMING AGAINST MORE PARTIES INVOLVED.

    Predatory lenders or Rescue Scamers?

    Barry Silber, Jim Marks, Suzanne Marks.
    Linear Capital, America’s Mortgage Brokers LLC.
    Affordable Home Funding, The title Team
    Dale Group of Tampa Fl
    Amanda Sigler Realty, Dunnellon Fl
    324 N. Dale Mabry Hwy
    Tampa Florida 33609
    United States of America
    Phone: 813 514 6200
    Web Address:

    Category: Was this ORGANIZED CRIME?

    NEWS MEDIA TAKE NOTICE… HELP US EXPOSE HOW WE WERE CONNED BY A FAMILY OF PREDATORY LENDERS OUT OF TAMPA FLORIDA

    To Whom it may concern,

    It is our hope that Law Enforcement and you the media will investigate and expose these people and their companies. they have found a complex way to legally steal from the elderly, if they don’t do something about this scam. Why is law enforcement saying that they cant help us? Because the Scamers are not big enough or its not their problem. We have been forced to filed a civil case when I believe it should be a criminal case. ( case # 09 13757 division H ) in circuit court Hillsborogh County, Florida. By the time we are dragged through court they will have milked everything to death and we will be homeless. . My attorney thinks they might have violated some state and federal statutes if they got more then 45% interest. I think its could be as high as 300%. Please read or story and help us stop them from ever doing this again.

    Category: Predatory Lending Bait-and-Switch Equity Stripping. Flipping, Steering, Rescue Scamers?

    Why Should you Read this story and avoid these PEOPLE and their companies?

    Re: Barry Silber, Jim Marks, Suzanne Marks, Amanda Sigler

    Here is a comment worthy of note which I found trolling the comments on my blog: Remember if you are dealing with an unscrupulous licensed professional (attorney, mortgage broker, etc.) you can file a grievance with the licensing agency who will investigate, prosecute if necessary, and possibly require restitution.

    Comment: [Editor’s Note: If con men looked like crooks they wouldn’t’ get anywhere. They always ingratiate themselves and seem like good people interested in helping. They intentionally do not appear to be much different from legitimate lawyers, auditors, debt counseling etc.
    A Warning to others having Mortgage problems:
    Our family was having some problems with our mortgage, we got behind and were facing a potential foreclosure. We got a lot of the typical rescue mailers telling us that we had the plenty of equity and not to worry. We knew this and we only needed 20 to 50 thousand dollars to bring the loan current. Plus we knew that our family would loan us the money if we needed it, they would sell just one property that would pay off part of our loan at any time. That seemed simple enough,

    NOW LET THE BARRY SILBER, JIM MARKS NIGHTMARE BEGIN…

    We were approached by a kind broker / lender named Jim Marks out of Tampa Florida who said he could rescue us from a foreclosure and the rates would be very low because we had so much equity in our waterfront home. He said he could find us plenty of money. We were very clear to him that we did not have the income to do any major loan an we only needed a small amount.

    THE SCAM: Seeing that we had a lot of equity, Marks gained our trust via some acts of kindness and eventually befriends our family, He showed great concern for our financial problem and found various ways to come to our home. He had lunch many times in our home and invited me out to lunch as his guest many times. He also worked his way into using our boats and waterfront property. He went snorkeling and diving on our boat with his family and we felt that he had a nice family and was sincere. After a while I shared some of our families information regarding investments that had been made. Jim Marks was very interested and wanted to see all the waterfront and residential properties my family had invested in, he also brought out investors to see what we had, later we found out that the investors were his own relatives (Barry Silber the lawyer / hard money lender with LINEAR CAPITIAL of Tampa ). Was Silber directing Marks? Was Marks the front man for either Silber or Linear?

    The investor Barry Silber came to our home invited by Marks and talk about a long term Joint Venture and wanted to know if any of my friends had good deals on waterfront properties, I fell for all of it like a sucker and provide what they needed, Silber disappears for a long time but some how comes back as the hard money lender but we did not know that he was Marks relative. Marks is now telling us that we can get any loan from anyone except Silber. I think this is against the law because marks was steering us right into the hands of his relative, Did marks get kickbacks or other profits? Marks got 50% of the corp and many fees after flipping our loans. We shall See about that later during discovery.

    I believe that Marks only assisted Barry Silber as a front man who looked for the elderly who had good equity but had problems with a foreclosure. Did Marks and Silber work as a team and structured a deal putting everything into the [deal?] that we already owned, We now believe that everything in the scam was planned from day one Marks even created a corporation for our family. We had no idea what Marks was doing with the company and can only guess that as a JV partner Marks took 50% and gave us 50%, Marks took complete control of everything, sold many lots we had, used the money for other purchases, took out loans without approval from our family. Were Marks and Silber having regular meeting on how to extract more from our family?

    Our family was about to sell three of our waterfront lots and an investment home, that would have brought in aprox $300.000.00. Jim Marks said don’t do it, put it in the JV and we will do much better later with him in control. So we trusted Marks with everything including the check book. We thought he was our friend and would managed and protect us but boy were we dead wrong.

    WAS AMANDA SIGLER INVOLVED? Was Amanda Sigler (a local real estate agent) feeding Jim Marks our personal information as she to befriended our family? Did she assist in taking thousands of dollars worth of personal property without due process. The plan may have been set up from the very beginning to get control of everything we had. How much did Amanda Sigler gain? It is clear now that we were elderly and easily conned, we had a big target on our backs called equity. We were steered by Mr Marks right into what I now believe was nothing more than family of Predatory Lenders.

    They tricked me and my family by saying that they could rescue us from a foreclosure but all we got was more flipped loans, prepayment penalties, fees, and high interest rates. All designed to extract equity and get control of our lives. They eventually forced us into a foreclosures, but always stood by with another big loan with additional high cost in order to get them to stop their foreclosures. I think Barry had clauses in the loan agreement that took huge attorney fees if he had to foreclose. He foreclosed and we paid him, stripping more equity from our land. We were trapped.

    SETTING THE TRAP: We were forced to meet after hours at their LINEAR CAPITIAL offices in TAMPA to sign more rushed document that we did not really understand. Was this a typical BAIT AND SWITCH? or was the intent to just beat us down? I am very sure that they did not want others to see what they were doing so they had to get us in after hours. (e.s.) We had many questions as documents are being brought to us for signing but Jim Marks was always standing right by our side saying don’t worry I got your back and would never let you sign anything that would hurt you or your family. Document were changed for hours by the lawyer/ lender Barry Silber as he re-did document, was this the bait and switch? We were taken out of the room several times and were brought back in when new doc were ready for us to sign. Please note that these two men owned one or more of the Title Company, The Real Estate Company, The Mortgage company and we thought they were the attorneys for everything including the corporation that was created for us.

    We did not want to sign anything but we were up against the wall and the mortgages that they gave us were all due again. They took a years worth of payments up front that night and paid themselves many fees. Now we had a new giant mortgage on our home that was due in one year it also had a rider that would take away all our rights to the JV that controlled all our Families properties if we didn’t’ pay them back over $500.000.00 within that one year.

    We told Marks that we can’t pay this loan back and he said don’t worry we will sell something in the JV to pay this off or refinance you or the corporation at better rates. We believed that the lawyer Silber would protect our family but we were dead wrong about that too. We now know that the lawyer involved was Mr Mark’s distant relative by marriage who stood to gain a great deal of money if we failed. I believe that this man Barry Silber should be disbarred and put in jail. We were set up to fail because after many months of Jim Marks infiltration into our family, they knew everything about us and our family and knew we had good equity to take.

    SILBERS ETHICAL DUTY: It was Silber duty to not let this kind of thing to happen to anyone but was he after our land and equity as was Mr Marks from the very beginning? Barry Silber was also part of the company that gave us one or more of the mortgages. Before that year was up Barry Silber started foreclosure on our home and then said that they could not lend any more money. They got control of the land and the corporation (RSI LLC) via the attached default to our mortgage and started to sell everything. All our future income was now in their hands. What is astounding is that our Mortgage on our home is now over $ 1 million dollars. They sold several of our residential properties and took most of the cash without our permission. How did this happen and when will they be prosecuted?

    THE SUCKERS: How did we allow some one to take all our families properties? First: We allowed Jim Marks in because he had all the answers to many problems we had and he was saving us from a foreclosure. We eventually trusted Jim Marks completely as a friend and business partner. But now we see that he was clearly working his way into our family and eventually found out every aspect of our assets and liabilities so that he could make his move and set the trap. Second: We were not very smart with our finances. Third: We were not smart enough to see the scam because we were blinded by his promises and trusted him because he said he could handle everything properly.

    Now we see that they were all very smart men and we were conned over and over again into trusting a family of hard money predatory lenders who had one motivation and that was to milk us of all our equity by what ever means possible. We all feel very bad because we let this happen to our families holdings. We believe that state and federal laws have been broken AND WE HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH EVERY AGENCY POSSIBLE Including our Governor SEEKING JUSTICE. FROM LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. WE ARE ALSO FILING COMPLANTES WITH THE FLA BAR AND OTHER AGENCYS THAT CONTROL THE LIC OF THESE MEN IN THE HOPE THAT JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED. Law enforcement and media take notice…We would like others to give their own story about these people or like kind cases.

    The KILL SHOT: This was the last statement from Mr Marks, He strongly advised us that we should quick claim our home to his wife’s relatives to avoid another foreclosure. So Don’t ever fall for someone trying to rescue you with a hand of friendship. Report Predatory lenders and Mortgage fraud abuse to everyone. Expose these people when found.
    Put them in jail if crimes have been committed I can tell all of you that this web site has helped in several ways. Keep it going

  4. […] them free? | death … County property records – public records broward county – how to … Crimes against the state: the florida mortgage crisis « alan farago Foreclosure defense: objecting to trustee sale « livinglies's […]

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  11. nikotin says:

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