Supporting, Informing & Connecting People in Foreclosure
By Jenifer B. McKim Globe Staff / August 7, 2011
Devenia Mack doesn’t know Mark P. Harmon personally, but the Newton lawyer is intimately involved in her housing crisis. His company, Harmon Law Offices, was hired by Wells Fargo Bank last year to seize Mack’s Westminster ranch house by foreclosure.
His son, Andrew, signed the paperwork that transferred the mortgage to Wells Fargo.
His title company stamped the document notifying Mack that the bank was taking her home.
And his auction company put the property up for sale.
Mack, a 46-year-old mother of five, went to court to fight back. She claimed Harmon’s law firm and auction company worked with Wells Fargo to begin the foreclosure process without technically owning the mortgage. Mack said she was in the midst of negotiating with the bank to lower her payments when she heard about the auction.
“I don’t know how it could have gotten that far when I did everything they told me to,’’ she said.
In October, a judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing the auction. The case is still pending.
Mack’s suit is one of more than 100 cases filed in Massachusetts superior and federal district courts since 2005 against Harmon Law Offices, by far the state’s largest legal firm specializing in foreclosures. In Boston alone last year, it handled 40 percent of all home foreclosures - about one a day, according to a Globe review of public records. Statewide, the company has advertised more than 15,600 foreclosure auctions scheduled between January 2010 and September of this year.
With a law office, title firm, and auction company under his umbrella, Harmon has assembled a network that can slice through the complexities of a foreclosure faster than most stand-alone legal firms - it’s a one-stop shopping center for banks and mortgage companies. A reputation for speed and efficiency has attracted major clients such as Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase - in addition to Wells Fargo - which hire Harmon Law to process thousands of cases annually. It is also one of just five Massachusetts law firms on a list that mortgage giant Fannie Mae uses to farm out business.
Critics - including consumer advocates, attorneys, and foreclosure law specialists - say the firm’s size and scope allow it to sometimes act like a bully, steamrolling over people’s rights to maximize profits. Among their allegations: Harmon Law has unfairly foreclosed upon homeowners who were in the process of renegotiating their loans, charged exorbitant fees, and used inaccurate or falsified paperwork.
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Is another fraud laden Supertanker headed for Davey Jones Locker?
Here a few additional snippets from the article...
"John L. O’ Brien, head of the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds in Salem, said he found five different versions of Andrew Harmon’s signature on foreclosure-related legal documents as part of an investigation into alleged robosigners - information he submitted to Coakley’s office."
"Indeed, the firm’s determination to get the job done can cause emotions to erupt, especially those of desperate homeowners. (It is why Harmon Law’s Newton offices are fortified with security glass.) Because when you peel away the layers of foreclosure paperwork and legalese, Harmon’s business comes down to getting people like Mack out of their homes and doing it as quickly as possible."
Bold emphasis added by me.