Bloomberg News

Banks Sued By North Carolina Official Over Mortgage Registry

March 13, 2012

Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) were among companies sued by a North Carolina county official over allegedly forged mortgage documents and the use of a mortgage database under attack by states and counties.

The companies named in the lawsuit filed forged mortgage- related documents, misled homeowners and impaired property rights, according to a complaint filed today by Jeff Thigpen, the Guilford County Register of Deeds. The county includes Greensboro.

“Our office uncovered an abundance of falsified, forged and fraudulently executed mortgage documents,” Thigpen said in a statement. “But our investigation only found the tip of the iceberg. We need the banks to clean up their mess.”

Banks and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. have been sued by attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York over the MERS database. Delaware sued the company without filing claims against banks. Texas counties, meanwhile, are also pursuing claims against MERS.

MERS tracks servicing rights and ownership interests in mortgage loans on its registry, allowing banks to buy and sell loans without recording transfers with counties.

Land Records

Shirley Norton, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, and Vickee Adams, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, declined to comment about the complaint. The lawsuit also names JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and others as defendants. Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan, and Kevin Heine, a spokesman for BNY Mellon, declined to comment.

Janis Smith, a spokeswoman for Merscorp Holdings Inc., said in a statement that the complaint contains “a lot of political rhetoric” and “misconstrues” the role of MERS.

In his complaint, Thigpen said the companies named in the lawsuit “effectively privatized” the public property recording system and disrupted the county’s responsibility to maintain reliable land records.

The case is Guilford County ex rel. v. Lender Processing Services, 12-CVS-4531, General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Guilford County.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.


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