Yves Smith’s Plea For Votes For Lisa Epstein Puts A Serious Bite Into Her Credibility

I’m a Palm Beach County resident and I am not taking voting advice from Yves Smith. I’m voting for Sharon Bock for Clerk of the Courts for the simple fact that she is an experienced public servant and has done nothing to warrant being removed from office.  Lisa Epstein from Foreclosure Hamlet fame is not only not qualified for the position, there are serious questions about her that no one has bothered to ask since she burst onto the scene over two years ago thanks in part to the efforts of convicted mortgage fraudster Carol Asbury.

When I originally sat down to write this article a few weeks ago, it was going to be about how Lisa Epstein’s campaign for Palm Beach County Clerk of the Court reminded me of the episode of The Simpsons when Homer gets into a fight with his local garbage men and decides to run for Sanitation Commissioner.  I was going to compare the Epstein campaign to Homer Simpson’s campaign because let’s face it, Lisa Epstein is a joke.

“I came to fight city hall. I want to shake things up, Patterson. Stir up some controversy, rattle a few cages. You’ll never silence me. I’m the last angry man.  A crusader for the little guy!”  -Homer Simpson

Epstein fires up the malcontents who come to her site, like Yves Smith does on her site, looking for free legal help from pro-se litigants with inaccurate information that sounds like it came from pamphlets handed out by the Trotskyists at the union picket lines my grandfather used to take me to in the early 1970s.  She and her contributors believe that everyone is entitled to a free house and that the American banking system must be destroyed. I can almost hear a “Die Yankee Imperialist Capitalist Pigs!” speech by Joseph Stalin or Nikita Khrushchev  in my head.

Epstein also has the people who visit Foreclosure Hamlet convinced that they can play Do-It-Yourself Lawyer when it comes to foreclosure defense. This is one of the reasons Florida is in the mess it’s in.  You have a bunch of wannabe Che Guevaras running around with delusions of being Gerry Spence or Alan Dershowitz arguing asinine conspiracy theories and legal arguments that sound like they came from the Michigan Militia.  Like the one woman from Foreclosure Hamlet who wanted to argue that JPMorgan Chase was barred from foreclosing on her home because it violated the Chippewa Treaty of 1842.

Epstein openly encourages her subscribers to use fictitious names on Foreclosure Hamlet and other websites under the guise, “that banks are watching you” when in reality she’s encouraging people to use the anonymity of the internet to commit libel against corporations and individuals.  As a matter of fact, I had to contact Lisa Epstein several times in order for her to remove posts by her contributors that claimed I was ripping off little old ladies during my broker days and that my old MFI-Mod Squad website was taking kickbacks from illegally operated loan modification companies.  None of which was true and the source of the claim was a woman in California with serious mental issues and a rap sheet the length of someone’s arm who was a wannabe competitor of MFI-Miami.  The problem is that Epstein and her contributors don’t verify the majority of their sources.

On August 10, 2012, Susan Webber aka Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism wrote a gushing endorsement of Lisa Epstein and even quoted misinformation Epstein has been promoting about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Apparently, Yves Smith also has a problem verifying her information since she didn’t bother to verify Epstein’s claims before writing her piece.

This isn’t the first time Yves Smith has been called  out for posting inaccurate information several times.  You don’t dare question Yves Smith on her site because you will feel the arrogance that only a Harvard degree can create.  Not only will she delete your posts, she’ll write catty rebuttals and ban you from her site so you can’t respond. Ask Mike Dillion of Stellionata Consulting who was outright banned from Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism website after questioning the integrity of a piece Smith wrote in 2009.

In Yves Smith’s endorsement of Epstein it appears that she did a vetting of Lisa Epstein that was about as half-ass as the one John McCain’s people did when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.  I can understand that Smith may have some type of personal relationship Epstein but it’s unprofessional to cross that line when you’re in the public eye.  I know because I have friends in politics and I juggle with that decision every election cycle. At the end of the day, I have to think about who I endorse very carefully. I have friends I will not endorse because I don’t feel they understand mortgage lending or because I know an endorsement may hurt my business or industry.

The simple fact is Lisa Epstein has no business running for Palm Beach County Clerk because she is not qualified.  She is an unemployed oncology nurse with no background in the law, mortgage finance or even public administration.

It’s also apparent that Epstein has no idea what the job entails because she wants to turn the Clerk’s job into a tax payer funded CSI-Miami type mortgage fraud enforcement bureau that will hunt down suspected mortgage fraudsters and she wants to run it like she is some type of delusional Simon Wiesenthal of mortgage fraud.  Unfortunately, what she doesn’t get is that hunting down fraudsters is the job for law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office not the Clerk of the Court.  Even the Palm Beach Post, a newspaper that has been very good to her by giving her free publicity for the past two years refused to endorse her, calling her, “well-intentioned but misguided”  

One question no one in the self-absorbed world of South Florida or in the media for that matter, seems to be asking Lisa Epstein is, if she has been unemployed for nearly three years, what is she doing for money? She still has to put food on the table for her and her kid, yet she still has to pay the association fees for her posh Palm Beach condo and put gas in her car. So who’s paying for it?

I first became aware of Lisa Epstein and her Foreclosure Hamlet website when she emailed me asking for a donation in March of 2010:

Hello.  I am seeking a grant or other philanthropic funding for my work combating illegal foreclosures.  Here is a link to a little taste of my work thus far  http://ning.it/7mwtyd

Thank you for your time,
Lisa Epstein

When you click on the link in the email it takes you to a landing page on Foreclosure Hamlet where Epstein details what the funds are going to be used for and she openly admits she has no experience in mortgage lending or mortgage fraud investigating:

“What I do not have is credentials, contacts, money, or education in the areas of law, business, or economics; all of which would help provide a foundation for my work. I am working at warp speed to educate myself and to obtain valuable contacts. The formal credentials will have to wait.”

After receiving this email, I called several contact and associates who work at various non-profit housing agencies in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties and no one had ever heard of her.  So I checked with the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Consumer Services who regulates not-for-profit organizations and they had no record of Foreclosure Hamlet being registered.  I then checked the WHOIS database, a database that allows you to research who owns a domain and found it was registered with Domains By Proxy, a company owned by GoDaddy that allows webmasters to hide the identities of domain owners.

I figured Lisa Epstein was just one of the many pissed off Florida homeowners who wanted to stick it her lender by trying to get some attention with her “last angry woman” shtick.  Besides, who would be that stupid to commit fraud by soliciting donations for an unlicensed organization.

Several weeks later, I found out she was a Neil Garfield groupie who had become extremely tight with Garfield protege, Carol Asbury.  Asbury as many of you may know is now sitting in federal prison after pleading guilty to operating a mortgage fraud scheme.

About a month after I received the email, Lisa Epstein and her contributors began posting negative and false information about people who refused to give her money including me and a friendly competitor of mine in California.  I called Epstein to see if we could work this out and was basically told me if I wanted the comments to be removed then I had to give her money to help her fund Foreclosure Hamlet.  Naturally, I refused and told her point blank that I would not give her extortion money and because Foreclosure Hamlet did not have a 501(c)3 registration with the IRS.  The libelous comments continued for about two more months until my attorney contacted her and convinced her it was in her best interest to take them down.

As of the writing of this article, Foreclosure Hamlet is still not registered with the state of Florida as a corporate entity nor is it registered as a Not-For-Profit with the Division of Consumer Services.

Lisa Epstein by her own admission to the media is unemployed and has been unemployed for nearly three years.   It also appears that she is operating an unlicensed non-profit.  My question is, where did the money come from to pay for startup costs for Foreclosure Hamlet?   Who paid for the buses that drove protesters to two different “Rally In Tally” events that she promoted with 4closurefraud.org when it was owned by Carol Asbury?  What happened to the money that she and Michael Redman collected from protesters for bus fare?

Last spring, she began doing a radio show with Carol Asbury and Redman.  This was paid air time, so who paid for the air time and where did the money come from? Did it come from the money Asbury illegally obtained when she was committing mortgage fraud? Did it come from subscribers of Foreclosure Hamlet? These questions then lead to other questions such as, if the money came from Asbury, what kind of financial relationship did Epstein have with Asbury who was later convicted of mortgage fraud? If the money came from subscribers and donors to Foreclosure Hamlet, then where’s the accounting?

These are not “gotcha” questions but legitimate questions that as a candidate for public office Epstein should be willing and able to answer.   After all, in 2010, Epstein along with Asbury accused Palm Beach County Palm Beach Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser of being biased against homeowners because Sasser’s 401k was tied to the performance of Mortgage Backed Securities.  Both Asbury and Epstein accused her of benefiting from lenders illegally taking people’s homes.

Now it’s time for Yves Smith’s candidate Lisa Epstein to answer the question, where’s your money coming from?

You would think that a woman like Yves Smith, who spent 25 years working for Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co., and Sumitomo Bank, would ask Lisa Epstein a basic question like how she supports herself after being unemployed for nearly 3 years especially, if you’re going to ask her to help you with a grant request.

I find it ironic that a woman like Yves Smith who wrote such a great book titled, ECONNED: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism now approves of this kind of behavior on the consumer side of the coin.

The landscape of the foreclosure defense industry has changed dramatically since I started MFI-Miami in 2008.  In 2008, there were 10 attorneys in Florida doing foreclosure defense. Now there are over 700.  From those 700 maybe 25 know what they’re doing.  The rest are just carpetbaggers hoping to salvage their legal careers by sapping a few extra dollars out of desperate homeowners.  You also have pissed off homeowners with no training in mortgage or finance, like Epstein, who think because they went to a five hour Neil Garfield seminar or because they spent hours scouring public records comparing signatures that this somehow qualifies them an expert in mortgage lending.  Many of these people are using the title, “advocate” to lure people in the door and then charging them to write a report based on conspiracy theories or legal nonsense they picked up off Foreclosure Hamlet or give homeowners what are essentially pages copied from Neil Garfield’s 600 page binder he hands out at his seminars.

Like the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, the foreclosure activist movement didn’t just happen, it was created by people who wanted to profit from the economic crisis. It was originally created as a marketing tool for Carol Asbury’s law firm and to promote Neil Garfield’s seminars.  Because of people like Asbury and Garfield, Lisa Epstein does have a sizable internet following.  Is Smith is hoping to capitalize on this?  Logically, this would be the only answer.  After all, more traffic means more ad revenue.  The only other answer is Yves Smith’s judgment is impaired.

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