A class action lawsuit being brought against JPMorgan Chase alleges that the bank engaged in fraudulent activity in tens of thousands of bankruptcy cases.
The suit claims that the bank actively deceived many people involved in the bankruptcy process, including Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 trustees; bankruptcy judges; creditors; creditor attorneys; debtors, debtors in possession, and debtors’ attorneys; and the Office of the United States Trustee.
Among the charges being leveled against Chase are that the bank did the following:
- Committed fraud, perjury, and intentional misrepresentation in bankruptcy court by producing false title transfer evidence (sources claim that the bank used PhotoShop in some cases) in order to “prove” its stake in thousands of bankruptcy cases.
- Provided manufactured evidence to willfully deceive those involved in the bankruptcy process about who truly held class members’ non-negotiable promissory notes.
What is Chase Actually Accused Of?
In plain English, Chase is facing charges of providing false evidence regarding home mortgages in bankruptcy cases. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that:
- Chase fabricated documents that recorded its chain of ownership of residential mortgage loans. In order to be able to claim ownership of mortgage debt in bankruptcy court (or any court), a person must have a hard copy of the mortgage’s promissory loan (also called a Master Loan Note, or MLN). Because of electronic mortgage registration systems and securitization of mortgages (two factors that greatly contributed to the expansion and burst of the housing bubble), however, most banks no longer hold paper MLNs.
- Chase presented falsified documents in bankruptcy court. In order to “prove” that it was the lender to whom a bankruptcy filer owed money, Chase allegedly presented these fabricated documents to bankruptcy courts (because it did not have actual documentation).
- Chase rewarded lawyers for speedy action. During a bankruptcy case, filers are protected from collection actions like foreclosure by the automatic stay. But creditors can petition the court to lift that stay in order to collect on certain debts. In Chase’s case, the charges claim, the bank rewarded attorneys for producing false documents quickly and convincing the court to lift the stay quickly so that Chase could foreclose or collect money on a bankruptcy filer’s home.
Who is Affected By the Class Action Suit?
The class named in the suit (Ernest Michael Bakenie v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., filed in the Central District of California) includes bankruptcy filers who live in California. To find out whether you are a member of the class, you can consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in your area.
Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking damages, restitution, injunctive relief, and disgorgement of profits.