By CHRISTINE STAPLETON
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
-January 15, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH — Somewhere, presumably Georgia, lives a woman named Linda Green. According to investigators, her signature – and variations of it – appears on hundreds of thousands of questionable mortgage documents.
Linda Green has an impressive résumé. She has been a vice president of at least 14 banks and mortgage companies, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. The documents with her signature are called mortgage assignments. By signing, she attests to the true owner of a mortgage, which proves that a bank has the right to foreclose on a home.
One of those homes belongs to Lynn Szymoniak, a Palm Beach Gardens lawyer who specializes in white-collar crime. Szymoniak, 61, has ferreted out economic crimes for years and federal prosecutors have called her as an expert witness in four trials. In July 2008, after negotiations with her lender over an increase to her adjustable-rate mortgage failed, she received foreclosure papers on her home.
What she saw “made no sense.”
The company servicing her mortgage was in Dallas. Linda Green was in Alpharetta, Ga. Szymoniak launched an investigation of her own foreclosure.
“I did what I often do in cases,” Szymoniak said. “I find other documents that have been signed by the same person.” What she saw at the Palm Beach County Courthouse made her suspicious. She expanded her investigation of Linda Green to other counties: “Then I hit the mother lode .”
Linda Green’s signature varied widely in thousands of documents Szymoniak found. Szymoniak had uncovered the practice of robo-signing: employees at banks and mortgage servicing companies who sign sworn affidavits without any knowledge of the case. Linda Green is believed to be among the most common robo-signatures of them all.
“I have had training in this, but you don’t need training,” Szymoniak said. “It’s obvious to anyone that many people are signing for Linda Green.”
Lender Process Services Inc. confirmed that Green worked for its defunct subsidiary, Docx LLC, and does not now work for LPS. The Florida Attorney General’s Office is investigating LPS in connection with documents that “appear to be forged, incorrectly and illegally executed and false and misleading.”