Consumer investigator Jim Strickland obtained paperwork that included signatures that are suspect, and notary stamps that don't add up.
Lawsuit Claims Suspicious Signature On Foreclosure Documents
Thousands of distressed Georgia homeowners are familiar with local foreclosure attorney Troy Crouse, according to Strickland. Crouse's name is on foreclosure documents filed in courthouses across the state, but the signature of those papers bears no resemblance to how he signs his own documents.
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"The difference is pretty drastic, pretty definitive," said homeowner Jeff Crawford. "You still get steamed, looking at that paperwork?" asked Strickland. "Every day," Crawford said.
Crawford told Strickland when he got behind on his loan, local foreclosure law firm McCalla Raymer put Crouse on the case.
However, the firm farmed out the paperwork to a place called Prommis Solutions in Roswell. Prommis is a document processor, first established by a group of former McCalla Raymer attorneys.
"Basically they're a mill manufacturing these documents," said Crawford. "They may say otherwise."
Prommis Solutions employee Crystal Wilder first became a notary in May of 2009. She supposedly witnessed and notarized Troy Crouse's signature in April, five weeks before her seal was valid. Strickland showed the document to Crouse.
"Can you explain why the signatures that purport to be yours are so different from the signature on your own mortgage?" Strickland asked Crouse. "I have no comment."
"Did you sign these documents, sir?" asked Strickland.
"No comment," repeated Crouse. "No comment whatsoever?" asked Strickland.
RAW VIDEO: Jim Strickland Confrontation
"No comment," Crouse repeated.
"I've got a document here that shows the notary that witnessed your signature wasn't even a notary at the time," stated Strickland. "I have no comment," said Crouse.
Channel 2 Action News has since obtained dozens of documents Crouse purportedly signed with several notaries, in each case the notary wasn't a notary according to the dates on the signatures.
"How can you do this? How can this be legal?" questioned Crawford.
A lawsuit filed by a Muscogee County homeowner accuses Prommis and McCalla Raymer of fraud.
"When something must be witnessed and notarized, massive robo-signing or mass production of documents is not consistent with Georgia law," said Emory Law School professor Frank Alexander, who wrote a textbook on Georgia foreclosure law.
He told Strickland that mass production of documents can make it difficult for a homeowner to know whom they're dealing with.
"Even a dog in Georgia has the right to know who's kicking him," said Alexander
Crouse's boss e-mailed Strickland to say the signatures are legitimate; however, the pen swipes are so nondescript a document examiner told Strickland he can't tell who signed them.
Prommis Solutions also denied it has underlings signing attorneys' names, but Prommis refused an interview and refused to let Channel 2 cameras inside its operation.
They told Strickland it's up to McCalla Raymer to explain the paperwork. Prommis said it's reviewing its own procedures.