For anyone interested in the legal background on MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, I strongly recommend this very accessible law review by Christopher Peterson. There are two take-aways that I will emphasize. First, a substantial body of case law stands behind the principle that ”[a] note and mortgage are inseparable…, the assignment of the note carries with it the mortgage, while an assignment of the latter alone is a nullity” (id, pg. 7). Second, municipalities may have ground to claim reimbursement for unpaid mortgage assignments over the past 15 years. These unpaid county recorder fees may also constitute tax fraud, and penalties and interest may therefore apply to the total amounts.
Below is the abstract and citation:
Hundreds of thousands of home foreclosure lawsuits have focused judicial scrutiny on the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (“MERS”). This Article updates and expands upon an earlier piece by exploring the implications of state Supreme Court decisions holding that MERS is not a mortgagee in security agreements that list it as such. In particular this Article looks at: (1) the consequences on land title records of recording mortgages in the name of a purported mortgagee that is not actually mortgagee as a matter of law; (2) whether a security agreement that fails to name an actual mortgagee can successfully convey a property interest; and (3) whether county governments may be entitled to reimbursement of recording fees avoided through the use of false statements associated with the MERS system. This Article concludes with a discussion of steps needed to rebuild trustworthy real property ownership records.
Peterson, Christopher Lewis, Two Faces: Demystifying the Mortgage Electronic Registration System’s Land Title Theory (September 19, 2010). Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN.
Though the article does take a normative (rather than objective) stance on some points, the article text provides an excellent summary of issues with MERS and its footnotes list many additional sources of information.
Edit: I've uploaded my sample of Wells Fargo PDFs and a spreadsheet comparing them.
Edit 2: Found a PDF on the wellsfargo.com site that's a close match. Updating my probabilities a little towards real and away from fake…
ZeroHedge released a document that they claim is the soon-to-be-released Repurchase Process at Wells Fargo. I wanted to take a few minutes to see whether this document passed the smell test.
First, the PDF has an author tag – Sean Lacy. According to LinkedIn, Sean Lacy does appear to be a Wells Fargo implementation consultant based out of the Twin Cities. Furthermore, if you were to search for a Wells Fargo employee working in implementation, Sean wouldn't be the first one you'd find. A quick scan of LinkedIn and Google indicates that there would have been quite a few employees you might have chosen instead to fabricate this document.
Second, the document does also have a company tag – Wells Fargo & Co. However, I've downloaded a sample of around 20 PDFs from the wellsfargo.com site and none of them contain this tag.
However, some other pieces aren't adding up. For instance, the document creation is set to 12:32pm on Oct. 12. It was modified just over a day later. A Wells Fargo spokesman seemed to imply that the process was under review as early as October 5th, which would have given them at least a week to review the lawyers' briefs. However, the document text indicates that it is dated October 15th (with a typo). It seems strange that a document that was delayed for review for this long would have a typo in the date.
There are some software questions too. I've gone through 20 PDFs, four of which were from the last 6 months, and found none that were produced by Acrobat PDFMaker 9.0 for Word. Most documents were either produced by InDesign or used Acrobat 6.0 software. I'm not sure how diverse the IT infrastructure is at Wells Fargo, but I'd assume that software versions don't differ that much across the firm. There are some more little things…the font doesn't match the fonts used in any other documents. The disclaimer text also doesn't follow the standard I've seen thus far of indicating subsidiary roles (see this other "internal" document).
All in all, I'm not sure I believe this is the real deal.