A Reno law firm has filed two lawsuits alleging fraud against a nationwide mortgage registration firm, and if those legal actions prevail, the firm and dozens of mortgage lenders could be liable to Nevada's counties for billions of dollars in compensation and penalties.
Law partners Robert R. Hager and Treva J. Hearne, with Reno attorney Mark Mausert, have filed a case in Nevada and one in California against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, which operates an electronic registry of mortgage loans in the United States. MERS serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, investors and loan servicers in county land records, but doesn't own any mortgages.
By using the firm's names on deeds and other paperwork, the lenders are able to avoid county recording fees, according to the firm. MERS has no financial interest in the loans, but is listed as actual owner or surrogate for the owner on millions of deeds of trust, even as individual mortgages are repeatedly traded and packaged inside of mortgage pools.
The lawsuits argue that listing the firm as the owner of mortgages in which it has no interest in order to avoid filing fees and taxes constitutes fraud.