We live in a twilight zone where fraudsters are paying their way out of jail through countless settlements for the biggest financial heist of our generation. Every week, we read about some new bank settlement to cover up further investigation into mortgage backed securities fraud, while homeowners are still losing their homes through the very same fraudulent foreclosures that the banks and government continue to settle for. Amid all this, some homeowners realized early on that they must stand up and fight for justice on their own, since those responsible for protecting our justice system aren't doing their jobs.
Doug Boggs is a writer, filmmaker, composer, producer and foreclosure consultant. He writes the blog My Court History, and has litigated and participated in state, federal and appeals court as well as the California State Supreme Court, while acting as his own attorney. The director of the documentary "Quantum of Justice," Boggs is now educating as he helps other homeowners and attorneys involved in the foreclosure process. He personally experienced many stages of mortgage fraud, which led to foreclosure and eviction in his own case. The experience pushed him into unknown, murky waters where he uncovered many of the truths about illegal foreclosure as it continues to be practiced across the country. Many of us will find bits and pieces of our own foreclosure fraud stories in this interview.
Senka Huskic: Back in 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” The government did nothing to investigate it or to stop it. Instead, Wall Street was awarded with low interest rates, further deregulation and the green light to continue business as usual. What are your thoughts on this?
Doug Boggs: The blessing of hindsight is 20/20. The FBI, to my knowledge, has never been known to the public to be experts in mortgages, especially the tangled web of mortgage backed securities (MBS's) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO's) that Wall Street was doing. The government did nothing to investigate or stop it, left the world and the masses in their systemic complacency. I don't think too many people at that time really thought that the entire global economy was going to collapse.
Michelle, my wife at the time, and I became aware of the mortgage fraud being perpetrated against us when we began receiving the Notice of Default and Intent to Foreclose at the end of December, 2010. We began to dig deeper and understand fraud and the foreclosure process. In early April 2011, we filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank for Fraud and Breach of Contract. We had been current on our mortgage payment until November 2010. It was then that the modification counselor advised us to stop paying the mortgage and we would be in a more favorable position for modification. We did what was advised and in November stopped paying, and then were denied the modification. At the end of December the foreclosure process began.
I had experienced the collapse of my construction and real estate development companies. Being two years unemployed, I had a lot of time on my hands and we couldn't afford an attorney. I heard about a couple in Florida that got foreclosed on, even though they had paid cash for their home decades before. I heard similar cases in other states – homeowners being foreclosed while being current on their mortgage, foreclosed by the wrong banks, etc. The question wasn't about WHY a party was being foreclosed on, but became a question of HOW a party gets foreclosed on.
I learned very early of the corruption of the system. When I saw that fraudulent paperwork was being filed in order for Wells Fargo Bank to expedite a foreclosure against our property, I knew then that the courts and the Country Recorder's Office were failing in their positions to our society.
SH: Could you tell about your foreclosure, which led to an eviction? How long did this process last and when did you decide to sue the servicer for a fraudulent eviction?
DB: As I stated, as soon as we began receiving foreclosure notices we stopped the process by filing the lawsuit in April 2011. This put a halt to their attempts to foreclose. However, they claimed that they were going to auction off our home every month. Sometimes as often as [every] few weeks, they would have our property on the list. I went to the courthouse steps each time and showed all of the prospective bidders, should the property be auctioned off, that there was an encumbrance – the lawsuit placed against the property. This proactive process helped us stop the sale of our home for about a year. Then I watched our home be auctioned off to a professional foreclosure acquisition firm. We then fought this party in court while we were fighting Wells Fargo as well. Things were quite hectic at that point.
SH: How did this impact you and your health? Did you have anybody by your side, did your close family and friends understand what you were going through?
DB: All of this corruption, fraud, pressure and stress due to the foreclosure, and all of the legal work that needed to be done, began taking its toll on our health and our 20-year marriage. It directly affected our relationship, as we felt that we were basically in a fight for survival. More and more arguments were happening because of the stress load. We tried hard to fix things between us, but doing that and fighting against the Wells Fargo beast was near impossible. We were able to maintain a working friendship in order to accomplish our legal battle, but the marriage dissolved into divorce during the lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank. Family might hold empathy to things in the foreclosure process, but unless you are actually in that battle, it is difficult for other family and friends to fully grasp the levity of what is going on behind closed doors. But, as best as they could, family was interested and supportive to what we were involved with.
SH: What were the biggest obstacles you faced when you realized that this would be an uphill battle?
DB: The biggest obstacle for me was my own inner strength to continually tell myself that I could do this. I had to learn that lawyers didn't know everything and that they lie, cheat and steal. I understand that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As we got higher and higher up the chain of power, we found that corruption became the norm and not the exception. We had to learn the basics of law, but also to learn and act as a lawyer in the courtroom. It was definitely a crash course in law. I liken it to condensing three years of law school in about six months. And during that time of learning we were in a constant state of survival using the tools that we were learning. Meditation helped me maintain my sanity.
SH: What is it that still pushes you to invest so much of yourself in uncovering this fraud?
DB: What pushes me is that Wells Fargo Bank stole my home. Its much like you are walking down the street with your life savings in a duffle bag and someone comes running by and steals it. Do you run after them down the street yelling and screaming? Of course! But the courts don't want to listen to what you have to say. Despite all of the evidence of fraud, breach, perjury and more, they get away without any penalty. It just blows my mind. The courts don't seem to care.
I don't want anyone else to have to endure what we went through. The courts are ignorant, complicit, or silent to the claims against the banks, because the truth that there is over 80% chance that the bank foreclosing on any property does not have the right to do so, and that the bank that is collecting the monthly mortgages doesn't have the right to do that either.
I want the truth to be known that no one is safe from a foreclosure. The rules allow anyone at any time to be foreclosed on. Hard to fathom, but true. If it has not happened to you, most people think that it won't or can't, and maintain a level of complacency. I am looking for solutions to the problem at large and not simply on the micro scale of my life.
SH: How was this idea for Quantum of Justice born? Could you give a little description about your documentary?
DB: As soon as we began receiving our foreclosure notices in the end of December 2010, I felt lost and beaten. The world was collapsing around me and the pressure was thick and difficult to be in. I said to Michelle that if we were going to lose our home, then I wanted to get an RV and head out to make a film about the destruction of the American dream. At the time, the desire to get in an RV and make a film was really a measure of a desire to escape. But the idea maintained itself throughout the last four years of the legal battles that have taken us through California State Superior, Appeal, Supreme and Federal courts.
The film follows through our foreclosure process. It delves deep into the fraud of foreclosures and the illegalities of the Securitization of Notes. It sheds light on how one can begin and take on a legal action acting as their own attorney. It clearly explains how the banks know they are defrauding you by examining the rule of law and the wording of the contract. It shows how 80% of the time banks do not have the right to foreclose.
We go into depth of the securitization process of Notes and how the banks sell off mortgages that are then placed into mortgage backed securities on Wall Street – yet these banks then collect for the mortgage that they don't own, month after month, year after year. It exposes some of the corruption within the judicial system. We learn from senators, congresspersons, judges, lawyers, ex-mortgage brokers, bankers and more of their views and opinions of their knowledge of the system and the corruption. Knowledge is power.
I have put together a trailer for the film "Quantum of Justice.". I have recently put together a crowd sourced funding program to help me with the heavy costs associated with making a film such as this. I would be honored for those who can find whatever they can to donate to this production so that we can complete this film and expose the full depth of the corruption of Wall Street and the story of the common man rebuilding and redefining what the American dream is today.
SH: Why is there not a bigger outcry from the masses? Lately we have seen some light being shed on this enormous fraud, and still there are no big protests demanding criminal prosecutions and accountability. What can be done to change this? What can you and I and others do to change it?
DB: In the words of Ghandi: "Be the change you wish to see in the world!" It isn't over yet. Now, we begin to watch Wall Street create new securitized investment funds using our savings accounts, retirement portfolios and pension funds, just as they were doing with securitized notes that were placed in MBO's and CDO's. Hang on!
When something comes to your front door and into your home and affects your life in a very direct way, this is when most people wake up. Life is busy enough. But when it really hits and affects one's life, then they begin to act against it. Through my firsthand experience of the fraudulent foreclosure system and its inner workings, and bearing direct witness to the corruption of the judicial system, and because of the depth of the research during my lawsuit and further research to make this film, I approach the information from a perspective that I have yet to see exposed in any film. Change happens. What we do with it is what will orchestrate the next phase of our lives.
The steps that I took were filing a lawsuit. But others can learn from my experience through my film, and my blog. I hope that people get more interested, open up constructive dialogue, become involved, and write letters to Congress. Change happens with or without you. If it happens without you, you become a product of it. If it happens with you, you can help guide it be the change you are looking for.
Note: Doug Boggs is not an attorney and does not offer legal advice. His stories come from firsthand knowledge based on his own personal experience. Any statements posed here are not to be construed as legal advice. Doug suggests you consult an attorney in regards to questions concerning your own legal matters.