Massachusetts’ demand for Recording Fees and MERS’ Response

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
Shetland Park
45 Congress Street
Suite 4100
Salem, Massachusetts 01970

Register of Deeds
Phone: 978-542-1704
Fax: 978-542-1706




February 22, 2011


Kevin Harvey, 1st Assistant Register 978-542-1724


Essex South Register of Deeds John O’Brien announced today that he will be seeking over $22 million dollars from the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, “MERS” which represents several major banking conglomerates. O’Brien bases the $22M number on the fact that the Salem registry has recorded over 148,663 MERS mortgages since 1998. After a careful review of a number of these mortgages O’Brien said it became very clear to him that MERS had assigned mortgages to other entities at least twice without paying a recording fee. Based on this information the taxpayers have been defrauded out of $22,299,450 in Southern Essex County alone. It is quite possible that in some cases they may have assigned the notes more than twice resulting in even greater loss of revenue. O’Brien called MERS “one of the greediest schemes ever perpetrated on the American people. They have compromised the integrity of the public land recordation system and in doing so, have wreaked havoc on our economy”.

Last week MERS announced a major policy change conceding that assignments should be recorded in the various Registries across the country and “assignments out of MERS’s name should be recorded in the county land records, even if the state law does not require such a recording.” In addition MERS instructed its members to “not foreclose in MERS name”. O’Brien further states “MERS has now finally acknowledged that their business model was flawed, and they didn’t adhere to the legal requirement that all assignments of a mortgage must be recorded at the local Registry of Deeds.” “If they had followed the law the public would know who was buying and selling their mortgage, and it would have been an open, honest and transparent process. The fact that they deliberately chose to create a for-profit private cyber Registry of Deeds whose only purpose was to avoid paying the same fees as everyone else and keeping the public in the dark as to who was the rightful owner of the mortgage clearly demonstrates to me that this was a scheme of epic proportions.” “When Wall Street and these major lenders joined together in creating MERS, they plunged us into a housing nightmare with little or no regard for their actions. It’s obvious that their only motivation was to manufacture huge profits off the backs of homeowners and taxpayers. They should all be ashamed of themselves and step up to the plate and do the honorable thing and make the taxpayers’ whole,” O’Brien said.

The Essex South Registry of Deeds is one of 21 Registries in Massachusetts which have recorded MERS mortgages .O’Brien estimates that based on his conservative estimate of two assignments per mortgage the Commonwealth may be owed statewide upwards of $200 million dollars in lost recording fees. Nationwide, the amount of revenue lost could be in the billions. O’Brien is calling on MERS to come clean and inform the registers of deeds across the country as to the number of times they assigned mortgages to other entities. Only then will we get a true picture of the economic impact that this fraud has had on our country.

O’Brien, who in November, 2010, notified Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley about MERS, will now be forwarding to her this additional information. “We need to act quickly to recover these funds,” O’Brien said.


Essex South Registry of Deeds

MERS Mortrgages recorded by community since 1998

                           MERS Mortgage           Lost MERS Revenue Lost MERS Revenue

                            Recordings                 from One missing        from Two missing

                             Since 1998                      Assignment                 Assignments

     City              by Community       by Community                   by Community

AMESBURY                  4,976                       $373,200.00                        $746,400.00

 BEVERLY                    10,351                       $776,325.00                    $1,552,650.00

BRADFORD                      176                         $13,200.00                          $26,400.00

BOXFORD                     2,558                       $191,850.00                        $383,700.00

BYFIELD                           139                         $10,425.00                          $20,850.00

DAN VERS                       7,769                       $582,675.00                    $1,165,350.00

ESSEX                                844                         $63,300.00                        $126,600.00

GEORGETOWN            2,644                       $198,300.00                        $396,600.00

GLOUCESTER               6,138                       $460,350.00                        $920,700.00

GROVELAND                 2,034                       $152,550.00                        $305,100.00

HAMILTON                    2,054                       $154,050.00                        $308,100.00

HAVERH ILL                 17,223                     $1,291,725.00                    $2,583,450.00

IPSWICH                         3,548                       $266,100.00                        $532,200.00

LYNNFIELD                    3,631                       $272,325.00                        $544,650.00

LYNN                             20,752                     $1,556,400.00                    $3,112,800.00

MAGNOLIA                          11                                 $825.00                           $1,650.00

MANCHESTER                 1,317                         $98,775.00                        $197,550.00

MARBLEHEAD                6,207                       $465,525.00                        $931,050.00

MERRIMAC                     1,798                        $134,850.00                        $269,700.00

MIDDLETON                  2,658                       $199,350.00                        $398,700.00

NAHANT                            904                         $67,800.00                        $135,600.00

NEWBURYPORT           5,172                       $387,900.00                        $775,800.00

NEWBURY                      1,731                       $129,825.00                        $259,650.00

PEABODY                     12,924                       $969,300.00                    $1,938,600.00

ROCKPORT                    1,619                       $121,425.00                        $242,850.00

ROWLEY                        1,828                       $137,100.00                        $274,200.00

SALEM                          10,121                       $759,075.00                    $1,518,150.00

SALISBURY                  2,010                       $150,750.00                        $301,500.00

SAUGUS                         7,261                        $544,575.00                    $1,089,150.00

SWAMPSCOTT             4,265                        $319,875.00                        $639,750.00

TOPSFIELD                   1,807                       $135,525.00                        $271,050.00

WENHAM                          956                         $71,700.00                        $143,400.00

WEST NEWBURY          1,237                         $92,775.00                        $185,550.00

Total                             148,663                 $11,149,725.00             $22,299,450.00

Total lost MERS Revenue with one assignment                    $11,149,725.00

Total lost MERS Revenue with two assignments                  $22,299,450.00

And Here is the MERS Response

MERS Responds to Essex Co., Mass. Announcement
Company in compliance with purpose and intent of
state recording acts
Contact: Karmela Lejarde

Reston, Virginia Feb. 25, 2011—MERS has not received any direct legal communication regarding Mr. O’Brien’s February 22, 2011 announcement. The use of MERS is in compliance with the purpose and intent of the state recording acts. MERS intends to fully defend itself against these unfounded allegations.

It is not the case that recording fees are somehow owed or outstanding. All MERS mortgages are recorded in the public land records, and MERS members pay recording fees when the mortgage is recorded. Fees are paid for a service performed, and if a document is eliminated because it is no longer necessary, no fee is due because there is nothing to record. We believe it is wrong and unethical to seek money for services that were never rendered, and in fact, MERS greatly reduces the workload of county recorders, resulting in lower operating expenses for the county recorder’s office. Moreover, it would be the borrower who ultimately pays the costs of recording assignments, either directly or indirectly.

When MERS is the mortgagee, the mortgage is recorded at the county land records, thereby putting the public on notice that there is a lien on the property. The MERS® System also complements the county land records by providing additional information that was never intended to be recorded at the county level, namely the information about the mortgage loan servicer, and now, with the addition of MERS® InvestorID, the name of the investor.


Foreclosure Stories, MERS, The Players