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How an Obscure & Quasi-legal Outfit Called MERS Is Subverting Our System of Property Rights, & what we can do about it

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Richard Clark     Permalink
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Banksters have scrambled America's system of private property ownership to the point that no one knows who owns what.   This according to a recent article by Yasha Levine, a simplified, clarified and somewhat abbreviated version of which makes up most of what follows here.

 

"For the first time in the nation's history, there is no longer an authoritative, public record of who owns land in each county."

                 -- University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson

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There is an unbelievable scandal in the making that threatens to subvert our four-century-old method for guaranteeing a fundamental building block of the American republic--property ownership.   This is a story of deception engineered at the highest level of power, for the sake of short-term gain by a few.   It's also the story of yet another epic failure of the private sector to uphold the laws and traditions of American society, even something so fundamental to it as property rights.   MERS may have permanently destroyed public land records by breaking the chain of title to millions of homes.

 

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Created in 1995 by the country's biggest banks, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc (MERS) quietly took control of, and thereby, in one fell swoop, privatized, mortgage record-keeping across the country.   In the span of a few years, it scrambled America's private property ownership records to the point where no one could figure out who owns what.  

 

Incredibly, this was no accident;   it was done by design.   But why?  

 

MERS was a tool used by America's top financial institutions to greatly pump up America's real estate market, and thereby allow some to make billions in profits.   Mortgage-backed securities, robo-signers, lightning quick foreclosures, subprime mortgages and just about everything else that went into feeding the biggest real estate bubble in U.S. history could not function without help from MERS.   But unlike many of the Wall Street scandals, this one could eventually blow up in the banks' faces, with the little guy laughing all the way back to his free McMansion, while local governments see their empty coffers fill back up with the billions of dollars in unpaid fees that MERS had circumvented and essentially stolen from them.

 

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The story begins in the mid-'90s with the founding of MERS, Inc. by the nation's most powerful banks, ostensibly with the aim of streamlining and modernizing the process of registering and tracking mortgages.   Traditionally, there has been no centralized registry of real estate ownership information;   counties maintained their own records for properties within their borders--it's a system that has remained virtually unchanged since colonial times.

 

The MERS database went live in the middle of the dot-com bubble, and was supposed to take inefficient government bureaucracies kicking and screaming into the future by providing a centralized, national registry of mortgage ownership information.   "MERS addresses a problem that was costing the industry (banksters) a significant amount of money," Rick Amatucci, a Fannie Mae vice president and the agency's liaison with MERS, told Mortgage Banking magazine, just as the new registry went online in 1997.   The database would:

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

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