New York Law Blog

Deed Fraud Alert: Woman Evicted From Home She Thought She Owned

deed fraud

Deed Fraud Alert: Long Island Woman Recovering From Heart Surgery Evicted From House She Thought She Owned

Long Island homeowners need to be on the alert for deed fraud. Juliette Devonish had a deed and spent tens of thousands of dollars renovating the house. However, it turns out the deed was fake.

Devonish got duped and it could have been avoided. Why? She thought she could do the real estate transaction herself. She didn’t hire an attorney and title company to do the property research.

Deed Fraud

Now Juliette Devonish is scrambling to find a place to live after she received an eviction notice.

Devonish says she signed a deed in May 2017 with Ramel Smith. Smith presented himself as the owner of the house and she gave him at least $40,000 as a down payment.

Devonish told the NBC4 I-Team:

The house was a mess. I was told it was empty for eight years. I thought, okay I’ll fix it up.

Devonish also says she spent tens of thousands of dollars renovating the house. She began renovating the kitchen when she began receiving papers from banks with other people’s names on it. She also wasn’t getting mortgage or tax statements so she asked Smith.

Soon, Devonish soon learned the deed was worthless and the house was in foreclosure. Devonish acknowledges her single biggest mistake was not using her own attorney and letting Smith handle all the paperwork.

Attorney William Devonish explains:

What she got from Ramel Smith is a quitclaim deed. It’s sort of a non-promise or a non-guarantee of anything. Because Ramel Smith did not own the property it’s essentially a worthless document.

Durcan is fighting to keep Devonish in the house as long as possible. She recently underwent heart surgery and is having trouble finding a place for her and her granddaughter to live.

Angelo Mozilo Says He Is Done Being The Villain Of The Financial Crisis

Angelo Mozilo

Former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo Says Financial Crisis Wasn’t His Fault And To Quit Blaming Him

Former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo claims he had nothing to do with the financial crisis. He wants people to quit blaming him.

The disgraced CEO of Countrywide Financial told hedge fund executives that he doesn’t care that he is still being held responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown. Mozilo told the SALT Conference in Las Vegas:

A lot of years went by, my wife passed away, I turned 80 years old, and now I don’t care. There are other things more important in life.

Mozilo was charged with insider trading and securities fraud by the SEC in 2009 tied to his Countrywide stock sales and emails detailing concerns about the company’s subprime products at a time when he was publicly touting the stock.

He settled the case for $67.5 million and accepted a lifetime ban from serving as an officer or director of a public company. However, Mozilo didn’t admit any wrongdoing.

Mozilo also used the SALT stage to stand up for Countrywide. Bank of America bought Countrywide during the throes of the crisis. Bank of America lost billions of dollars for nearly a decade due to the acquisition.

Countrywide was the largest mortgage lender in the US at its peak.

The company aggressively marketed its lower lending standards to high-risk homeowners.

He also defended Countrywide’s lending practices. He said the lower lending guidelines provided homes to groups of people shut out of the traditional banking industry.

Time Magazine named Angelo Mozilo as one of the top 25 people to blame for the financial crisis. CNN named him as one of the “Ten Most Wanted: Culprits” of the meltdown.

Former Trump White House Press Secretary Anthony Scaramucci invited Mozilo.

Reverse Mortgage Lender Live Well Financial Collapses

reverse mortgage lender

Reverse Mortgage Lender Live Well Financial Abruptly Stopped Originating Loans On May 3rd With No Advance Notice

Reverse Mortgage lender Live Well Financial has ceased originating loans. The company announced on its website Friday it would not be originating new loans as of May 3, 2019. Live Well claims it is due to unexpected circumstances. The announcement took some wholesale partners by surprise.

The Reverse Mortgage lender also originated conventional as well as FHA and VA loans. Live Well also operates a servicing arm. The company has not indicated if it will continue to service loans or sell off that business. Live Well has also not stated if they will close completely.

Reverse Mortgage Lender

Virginia-based Live Well is a long-time player as a reverse mortgage lender. Live Well most recently ranked 7th with a 3.1% market share.

The Reverse Mortgage lender is also an issuer of reverse mortgage securities. The company ranked 7th in the first quarter of 2019. They had issued 22 pools of HECM-backed securities with an original aggregate amount of $85.6 million. Yet, the company sold off a sizable portion of its portfolio to Reverse Mortgage Funding last year. Industry insiders suspect that may have been a sign of things to come.

Live Well Vice President Bruce Barnes told HousingWire in September that the company was about to release a major upgrade to its lending platform. The upgrade promised an elevated experience for both its customers and originators.

Barnes said the new focus on technology and mortgage automation was a bid to retain market share in a shrinking origination market. However, Live Well never launched and it appears the lender may have buckled under the pressure.

The Message Read:

Due to unexpected circumstances, as of May 3, 2019, Live Well Financial, Inc. will cease to originate mortgage loans. If you have a loan in process with Live Well Financial and/or have questions about your mortgage loan, please contact our representatives at 866-678-0858 or by email To help facilitate matters, kindly have your loan number available and include with any written communication. Live Well Financial will make every effort to respond to consumer requests within 24 hours.

HGTV Star Nicole Curtis Facing Foreclosure On Two Houses

HGTV Star Nicole Curtis

Two Homes Of HGTV Star Nicole Curtis Face Foreclosure To Meet Unpaid Legal Bills

A Michigan judge has ruled HGTV star Nicole Curtis is responsible for $32,438 in delinquent attorney fees.  Judge Denise Langford Morris ruled that two of her properties in suburban Detroit could be sold to pay the bill.

Judge Morris affirmed an order she issued in February. The former Hooters Girl turned HGTV star owes the money to attorney Kurt Schnelz. Schnelz placed a lien on the homes.

Curtis had no comment when reached by the Detroit News on Tuesday.

Curtis’ attorney stated he and his client would review their options including an appeal or simply pay the bill.

James Rasor accused Schnelz of harassment:

This is a very insubstantial amount and we aren’t worried about the (financial) repercussions. But there are some ethical concerns including the filing of these liens on property that is considerably more valuable. There was no reason to go after two of her properties, other than to harass her.

Schnelz’s attorney tells a different story. Curtis had sought to have the earlier default judgment set aside. She claimed Schnelz overbilled her three years earlier. Schnelz allegedly represented Curtis negotiate a settlement with her ex-boyfriend, Shane McGuire.

Maguire claimed Curtis was an unfit parent and not a proper person to share legal or physical custody of the minor. He also claimed she did this exact thing to her other baby daddy, Steven Cimini, who is a father of her 20-year-old son, Ethan.

Read more at MFI-Miami

New York Homeowners Are Beating Their Foreclosures

New York Homeowners

How New York Homeowners Are Beating Foreclosures Using New York’s Statute Of Limitations Law

New York Homeowners

New York homeowners are using a legal tactic to score a free house during foreclosure.

MFI-Miami and our partner law firms used to use a similar tactic in Florida. That was until the Florida Supreme Court stepped in with the Bartram decision. Now we can only argue standing and the validity of the debt.

The good news is that the New York State Courts are allowing homeowners to invoke the statute of limitations. Yes, this is a game changer for New York homeowners.

New York homeowners facing foreclosure are beginning to invoke New York’s six-year statute of limitations law.

The NYS statute of limitations begins when the homeowner receives the original notice of acceleration from their lender. The courts have ruled a lender must also send out a de-acceleration in order to initiate a second foreclosure action.

How New York Homeowners Benefit From The New York Statute Of Limitations Law

New York HomeownersAs more and more foreclosure actions from the great recession continue to age, the statute of limitations defense under CPLR §213(4) has taken center stage as one of the more common and powerful defenses available to homeowners in New York.

As a result, foreclosure mill lawyers have made a plethora of arguments sowing confusion with how the statute of limitations is calculated. Thus, complicating this popular defense.

They have successfully argued that the lack of clarity in the mortgage documents and actions of the homeowner affect the limitation dates.

The Second Department Of the NYS Appellate Division has handed down two decisions designed to help alleviate at least a part of the confusion. The decisions revolve around de-acceleration.

Read more at MFI-Miami

Same-Sex Couples Face Systematic Lending Discrimination

Same-Sex couples

Same-Sex Couples Face A Lending Discrimination Rate 75% More Often Than Straight Couples

same-sex couples

A new study from Iowa State University shows systematic lending discrimination against same-sex couples. 

The study found same-sex couples who received a mortgage paid a 0.5% higher interest rate on average.

Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business conducted the research. It correlated data from 30 million mortgages across the US between 1990 and 2015.

Researchers also found that LGBTI couples were 73% more likely to be denied a mortgage when compared to mixed-sex couples.

The study has raised questions about systemic LGBTI discrimination in the lending industry and the lack of protections for same-sex couples.

The study also found no correlation between mortgage rejections and same-sex couples being high-risk borrowers.

Lei Gao, assistant professor of finance and co-author of the paper stated:

Lenders can justify higher fees if there is [a] greater risk. We found nothing to indicate that’s the case. In fact, our findings weakly suggest same-sex borrowers may perform better.

Researchers said that while they could not definitively say the rejections were due to discrimination. However, the evidence heavily suggests this to be the case.

There are federal laws in place to protect mortgage applicants from discrimination. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, and age.

Read more at MFI-Miami

Dual Tracking Lawsuit Filed Against Wells Fargo By Dementia Victim

Dual Tracking

Dementia Victim’s Family Files Federal Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo Alleging Dual Tracking Scam In His Foreclosure

dual tracking

A Mississippi daughter and father have filed a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. They allege Wells Fargo unlawfully foreclosed on the father’s home using illegal dual tracking methods.

Patty Parrish filed the lawsuit on behalf of her father, Norman Frossard. Frossard suffers from dementia.

The lawsuit alleges Wells Fargo and foreclosure law firm, Dean Morris engaged in unlawful dual tracking with Parrish and Frossard. Wells Fargo and Dean Morris also allegedly continued to negotiate with them after the foreclosure auction had already occurred.

Dual Tracking Lawsuit Alleges Wells Fargo Took Advantage Of Dementia Victim

Dual TrackingThe lawsuit says this about Wells Fargo trying to scam a dementia victim:

This is shocking, egregious conduct on the part of the defendants.

However, Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda said will defend itself against them:

We worked with Mr. Frossard and his family for four years to identify an option that might allow us to avoid foreclosure. Unfortunately, were not successful in those efforts. Our records indicate that we handled the account and our efforts to avoid foreclosure appropriately.

The lawsuit said Wells Fargo and Dean Morris violated the Dodds-Frank Act of 2010. Parrish and Frossard allege Wells Fargo did not eexplore all alternatives to foreclosure. They also allege the bank did not fulfill their obligation for loss mitigation. Wells Fargo also allegedly failed to engage in a fair review process for a loan modification.

Parrish and Frossard’s attorney, Macy Hanson also claims the nonjudicial foreclosure auction on Nov. 1, 2017, didn’t comply with state law:

The motive for the wrongful action is that Wells Fargo knew that it was over-secured on its loan with Norman Frossard. Wells Fargo set up this foreclosure so it would have the valuable Frossard home revert to Wells Fargo post-foreclosure instead of being sold to a third party.

The 5,500-square-foot home appraised for $450,000 prior to the foreclosure.

The lawsuit also seeks a temporary restraining order against Wells Fargo to cancel and terminate the foreclosure and damages.

The lawsuit also said credit of the equity cushion to the loan balance of Frossard’s home would have resulted in a post-foreclosure refund of the equity cushion to Frossard.

Read more at MFI-Miami

ELDER FRAUD ALERT: Hamptons Couple Indicted for Ripping Off Seniors!

Elder Fraud

Hamptons Couple John Ficarra and Mara Ficarra Targeted Thousands of Elderly Victims In Elder Fraud Scam

Elder Fraud

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging John Ficarra and Mara Ficarra with operating a massive elder fraud scam. Federal prosecutors are also charging them with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard P. Donoghue and Philip R. Bartlett from United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the charges:

The defendants preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our community. They were stealing their personal information and defrauding financial institutions. Protecting the elderly from financial fraud remains a priority of the Department of Justice.

The Ficarra’s exploited victims by fraudulently using their bank routing numbers and bank account number to produce counterfeit checks. Once the checks cleared, they withdrew the funds to the tune of more than $1 million.

How The Hamptons Couple Pulled Off Their Elder Fraud Scam

Elder FraudThe Ficarras owned and operated various companies. This included Remington Biographies, Remington Bookkeepers, and Mentorship America1 (collectively, the “Remington Entities”).  The Remington Entities also purported to publish reference publications containing biographical information of individuals across the country.  Those publications included “Inspiring the Youth of America” and The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals.”

The Ficarras mailed letters and pamphlets to potential elderly victims during the past five years. The victims were promised their biography would be published in one of the publications.

The solicitations also indicated:

Your 2 books and your plaque are paid for in full and ready for delivery.  Please send a check for $14.00 dollars for shipping and handling.

Read more at MFI-Miami

Ditech Holding Corporation Continues To Dodge Creditors

Ditech Holding Corporation

Ditech Holding Corporation Continues To Dodge Creditors After Emerging Bankruptcy And Sacking COO

Ditech Holding Corporation

Ditech Holding Corporation is in trouble again.

The company formerly known as Walter Investment Management emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. The company restructured and eliminated $800 million in corporate debt. It also changed its name to Ditech Holding.

Ditech has also had a revolving door in its CEO’s office for several years.

Yet, the bankruptcy didn’t end the company’s financial problems. In June, Ditech warned investors that it was exploring “strategic alternatives to enhance stockholder value,” which included possibly selling the company.

Ditech Holding Corporation ran into more trouble when it was kicked off of the New York Stock Exchange in November.

Read more at MFI-Miami

Hudson Valley Credit Union Settles Claims Of Screwing Military Personnel

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union Busted Illegally Repossessing Cars Of Active Duty Military Personnel Serving Overseas

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union has agreed to pay $95,000 over allegations that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. SCRA-protected service members accused the credit union of illegally repossessing their cars.

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union will pay $65,000 to compensate 7 service members whose cars it unlawfully repossessed while overseas. The credit union also will pay a civil penalty of $30,000 to the federal government. 

Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union

The USAO investigation found seven additional victims as a result of the investigation. It was also discovered the credit union also did not have any written policies dealing with SCRA’s protections. They also found the credit union did not have any procedures in place for non-judicial repossessions.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: 

Protecting service members is a high priority for this Office and the country.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said:

Financial institutions must recognize and honor their responsibilities to our men and women in uniform.  Our nation depends upon the selfless devotion and sacrifice of our service members and we must ensure that they receive all rights and protections afforded to them by law.

Hudson Valley Credit Union agreed to provide $10,000 in compensation to the affected service members. They also agreed to pay any lost equity in the vehicle with interest. 

An additional service member will receive $5,000. The credit union repossessed his vehicle but returned within 24 hours.  Hudson Valley has also taken steps to repair the credit of the affected service members. 

For more information about the United States’s SCRA enforcement efforts, please visit  

Read more at MFI-Miami

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