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JPMorgan Foreclosure Disputed, Casting Wider Doubts

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The integrity of thousands of foreclosure notices issued by JPMorgan Chase could be cast in doubt, as a court battle over one Florida homeowner's foreclosure might implicate numerous similar filings, reports Bloomberg News. It's the latest example of a situation that could stall foreclosures across the nation.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Jeffrey Stephan, a document processor for Ally Financial, who lives in a "modest" two-story house in a small Pennsylvania town, had approved up to 10,000 foreclosure documents a month without actually reading them. The news came to light after Ally said it was putting the brakes on foreclosures in 23 states, citing "corrective action" it needed to take. And when, at the end of the week, Ally began to withdraw foreclosure documents reviewed by another employee, Kristine Wilson, it appeared there might be yet another "robo signer."

Now, lawyers for a Florida homeowner are using a May statement by JPMorgan executive Beth Ann Cottrell to claim that the homeowner's foreclosure isn't valid. In her statement, Cottrell said she was part of an eight-person team that approved about 18,000 documents a month without seriously reviewing them.

"My review is more or less signing the document unless it's questionable," she said, according to Bloomberg, where "questionable" is meant literally: "somebody has a question and brings it to me and says, 'Beth, can you take a look at this?'"

These increased doubts about foreclosure filings come as the nation's total volume of foreclosures is itself increasing. More Americans lost their homes to foreclosure in August than in any other month on record, according to data from RealtyTrac.

While the document-processing scandals may seem like good news for homeowners dealing with foreclosure, Bloomberg notes that the doubts could delay the housing market's recovery. Home prices continue to fall, and foreclosure controversies, which create uncertainty in the market, may delay their hitting bottom.

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