Whistleblower facing foreclosure wins $18 million reward

A brave whistleblower named Lynn Szymoniak went from a homeowner facing foreclosure to winning an $18 million settlement for blowing the whistle on the nation’s largest mortgage company for “robosigning fraud.””Robo-signing” is the illegal practice of forging mortgage documents.

Featured on 60 minutes, Ms. Szymoniak told how the documents underpinning homeowners’ mortgages are sometimes missing or nonexistent. Banks need such documents to foreclose on a homeowner, so some banks have resorted to fraud: creating phony or “robo-signed” paperwork to throw people out of their homes.

Œ Mrs. Szymoniak uncovered the “robo-signing” fraud while seeking to save to save her Florida home from foreclosure. When she got some papers from her bank which did not look real to her, Mrs. Symoniak, who is a lawyer and fraud investigator began investigating not just her case but others, reviewing tens of thousand of papers.

Them she became a whistleblower, saying Œ the country’s four largest mortgage services had defrauded the federal government by creating fake documents to receive government-funded payments.

The government joined with Mrs. Syzmoniak’s and it was announced Œ that those banks — Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co, and Citigroup Inc. — settled the case for $95 million. Under law, the whistleblower is entitled to a share of the money recovered by the U.S. government, in this case $18 million.

Jeff Newman represents whistleblowers