Attorneys General in California, Nevada Join Forces to Investigate Mortgage Fraud

by Laura Mahoney, Reproduced with Permission from Banking Daily

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–The attorneys general of California and Nevada said Dec. 6 they have formed an alliance through which they will share evidence, witnesses, litigation strategies, and subpoenas as they investigate misconduct and fraud in the mortgage industry.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) said they are joining forces to speed up investigations and assist homeowners more quickly in the two states hit most heavily by the mortgage meltdown. They will assist each other as they pursue independent prosecutions, they said.

‘These homeowners want accountability and consequence, and they deserve both,’ Harris said at a joint news conference in Los Angeles.

The alliance makes sense because both states have high foreclosure rates, and have non-judicial foreclosure laws through which banks can foreclose on homeowners without court oversight. Foreclosures can happen in as little as nine months, Harris said.

In addition, some lenders, servicers, lawyers and others involved in fraudulent schemes or illegal conduct operate in both states.

Nevada and California have both pulled out of ongoing talks between attorneys general around the country and large banks in an attempt to reach a global settlement regarding mortgage and foreclosure practices.

Harris said she and Masto welcome collaborations with other state AGs who want to work with them in similar alliances.

Consumer Federation of California spokesman Zack Kaldveer told BNA in an e-mail the alliance is a positive step, and a direct contrast to the national talks that the two states rightfully left.

‘Whether these latest efforts will result in real relief for homeowners is yet to be seen, but until there is accountability, and a full vetting of the facts, no relief will ever come,’ Kaldveer said. ‘This alliance represents a necessary step in the march towards justice for California homeowners still suffering from a Great Recession caused in large part by a Wall Street Ponzi scheme.’

A spokesperson for the California Bankers Association was unavailable for comment late Dec. 6.