The recent foreclosure crisis brought to light a term that is now synonymous with foreclosure defense: “robo-signing.” A “robo-signor” is someone who signs documents on another’s behalf in massive quantities. The charge of robo-signing came to light largely due to CBS’s 60 Minutes segment on “Linda Green”, a bank vice president whose signature was made by dozens of low level bank employees. The segment offered conclusive evidence that thousands of land records across the country have forgeries. Here in Massachusetts, the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds has taken an active role in fighting robo-signing, through a list of alleged culprits on its website.
Successful claims against robo-signors have mostly come from state and federal lawsuits against lenders, alleging that these practices are in violation of land recording laws and other consumer protection statutes. Many of these lenders have settled these claims through huge cash settlements.
Can Massachusetts homeowners use robo-signing as a viable foreclosure defense? The overwhelming response by courts is “no.” Massachusetts law gives recorded land documents a large presumption of validity, making such challenges nearly impossible to succeed. I, personally, am aware of no successful foreclosure defense case made upon such a claim.
Robo-signing is attractive to many foreclosure defense claimants because it comes across as a “sexy” issue, filled with claims of fraud and deceit. The reality, though, is that it isn’t going to get very far as a foreclosure defense. This is one reason, among many others, why struggling homeowners should speak with an experienced attorney on these matters.