Prices of gypsum, which is drywall, are up nearly 7% from a year ago. Steel mill product prices are at a record high, up nearly 18% in March year over year. It’s used for beams, sheet metal products and wiring. The price of copper also set a record high this month and is 27% year to date.
Simultaneously, NAMFS members are telling Labor that they must continue to do more, for less. In fact, NAMFS members are more and more deliberately misclassifying employees. Rarely, if ever, are bids accepted for work and instead, Labor is issued price sheets. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has made it abundantly clear that the days are numbered with respect to the abuses, to date, by NAMFS members and others of Labor, by and through employee misclassification. The US Department of Labor withdrew a Trump-era rule that would have made it easier for “gig economy” companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as independent contractors. The reversal doesn’t change any gig workers’ current employment status, but it does signal that the Biden administration is taking a less friendly stance toward this sector of the economy.
The Biden Administration is wasting no time repealing Trump-era policies which were calculated to protect NAMFS members, amongst others, with respect to the gig economy. And to be clear, the entire Mortgage Field Services Industry revolves around the gig economy. “By withdrawing the Independent Contractor Rule, we will help preserve essential worker rights and stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a statement, whom is a former Union official.
Walsh thinks many gig workers should be categorized as employees with health and retirement benefits, a stark reversal from the policies of the Trump administration. “We are looking at it, but in a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees,” Walsh told Reuters. “These companies are making profits and revenue and I’m not (going to) begrudge anyone for that, because that’s what we are about in America. But we also want to make sure that success trickles down to the worker.” That trickle down effect has never been seen in the Industry. In fact, over the past 30 years, prices have only continued to fall with respect to payments from NAMFS members to Labor.
Senior officials at the International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST) stated that over the past several years, tens of millions of dollars in settlements have been made by firms such Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS), Buczek Enterprises, Assurant Field Asset Services (Assurant) and ServiceLink, amongst others.
The Washington Post is also reporting that the Labor Department also reportedly plans to nominate David Weil, a leading proponent of the push to crack down on worker misclassification who has criticized the business model of gig companies, to lead the Wage and Hour Division again, according to Bloomberg Law. Weil ran that division during the Obama administration. It is not all doom and gloom, though. The IAFST recently discussed their groundbreaking work on certifications and education with Foreclosurepedia. The IAFST University has begun rolling out several basic courses, all under ten dollars, and under their hallmark of Certification In About An Hour. When asked about timelines for going live, the IAFST stated they were looking towards the end of May. Here is how IAFST University puts it on their website,
We cater to the Apprentice, Journeyman and Master Preservationist. The vast majority of Certifications are completed in about an hour. Why waste time and money on what you don’t need?
And while many within the Industry are worried about the CFPB issuing new rules under Regulation X of the Dodd – Frank legislation — as opposed to the CDC moratoria which are continually being ruled unconstitutional in multiple federal courts — which has put a freeze on foreclosures through 2022, the reality is that many are looking to capitalize on the down time by improving their marketability. And Certifications is at the top of their list. Certification benefits both Management and Labor by creating a public withholding that Labor is, indeed, an independent contractor class. This, in turn, provides both liability protection to Management as well as documentable skill sets for Labor to put forward.
We went the extra mile by creating ID cards which are trackable via a tap on the phone. Whether it be law enforcement, neighbors, or community leaders, if you are IAFST University certified, tapping the ID card to any phone will pull up your public facing file. — IAFST University Chancellor
So, while much of the Industry is weathering the storm, it appears that the IAFST is leading the charge with respect to opening doors and ushering in higher pay for Labor.
The recent jumping of the ship by Sentinel’s former CEO Phil Johnsen would appear to indicate that after seven years Johnsen sees no light at the end of the tunnel. Johnsen left Sentinel in April for a VP/GM position at Altisource.
Foreclosurepedia had predicted, over a year ago when COVID first hit the US, that it was only a matter of time until the financial demise of NAMFS firms would come to light. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find ANY firm out there which is financially solvent, by definition, today. And while the move by Johnsen has apparently occurred without any PR fanfare, it is most interesting in light of the fact that New Residential, owner of Guardian Asset Management, put the screws to Ocwen in order to move their mortgage field services away from Altisource and over to Guardian. Could it be that Johnsen will be the one to orchestrate the coup against Guardian or will he simply be the one begging for alms in an upside down, topsy turvy world?
You can catch up on all the details in this weekends Foreclosurepedia Podcast.
Foreclosurepedia reached out to Huggard, for comment, and none was forthcoming at the time of publication.
When Foreclosurepedia announced, late last year, that there would be no foreclosures until 2022, many scoffed at the prospect. Our email inbox filled up with comments which, summarized, stated that I had become delusional. Lo and behold, here we are. And it was during that time that Foreclosurepedia began working with a few, select firms to create a pipeline between mortgage brokers, the financiers, and Labor. Turns out that, once again, Foreclosurepedia was ahead of the curve. And while our crystal ball is occasionally a bit opaque from the Scotch, the reality is that reading the tea leaves, on this side of the House, is rather elementary.
Here is how it works,
John and Jane Doe have equity in their home. They have been discussing buying a new home; however, the valuations are sky high and moving young Jonnie to a new school district isn’t really what they want to do. So, they speak with their local mortgage broker about getting a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or a FHA 203(k) to remodel the kitchen and get John his new Man Cave. And with interest rates ranging between 1.9% – 3% who could blame them? The reality is that for those within the Mortgage Field Services Industry, this is the ONLY game in town to turn a decent buck without the headaches normally associated with the Industry.
We have successfully developed a robust pipeline which brings in Realtors, Loan Officers, and Labor throughout most of the Sun Belt. To date, most of the rehabs are averaging between $35,000 – $50,000. The beauty on this is that there is no percentage being scraped off the top; this is real world money. More on point, though, most of these contracts are awarding half as down payment. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $26,300 in equity during the past year. As the foreclosures have been shut down — and as the CFPB will codify in Regulation X a complete shut down through 2022 — the valuation of assets is anticipated to climb even more. To that point, the equity overall for SFR assets is off the charts — and that is one hell of a slice of the pie to go after!
The time is NOW to break away from the herd and begin staking out your claim for the new landscape. Below are a few options Foreclosurepedia offers. Regardless, stay safe, keep doing it right, and remember that Foreclosurepedia is always a Friend of Labor.
Jack Jaffa, Shari Nott, Chris Crandell, and Mohamed Seif. The names read like a Who’s Who of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) during the 2008 Financial Crisis. And during the height of COVID, as the New Year rolled over, they were all named in documents filed by the federal bankruptcy trustee as a result of the Involuntary Bankruptcy against National Field Network (NFN) under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7001, 11 U.S.C. §§ 541, 542, 544, 548 and 550, and 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(A), (B), (H), and/or (O). And it is a case that Foreclosurepedia has been covering for over half a decade now. Coming on the heels of the federal indictment against former NAMFS Associate member Vicki Boser with respect to $750,000 in insurance fraud; as Boser is staring down a 20 year prison sentence, many are wondering if NAMFS Executive Director Eric Miller’s colleagues are contemplating sacrificing the king to save their own skin. And to truly understand the length and breadth of the NFN fraud, it is easiest to begin to look at the NAMFS mindset which allowed it to exist in the first place.
As a 501(c)(6), NAMFS is a non profit corporation. To that point, federal law is quite clear in that when asked for a copy of their IRS 990 — income tax filing — they are required to present it. For the past two years, Eric Miller has refused to do such. Miller has a lot to be afraid of. In fact, according to the last NAMFS 990, Miller’s salary today consumes overNINETY NINE POINT SEVEN PERCENT of all NAMFS member dues.
Greed, for want of a better word, would appear to be good for Miller and his acolytes. It appears to almost be a Family Tradition as Hank Williams Jr sings about. And normally no one would have ever been the wiser. Tens of millions of dollars in fraud occurred under the roof’s of former NAMFS member’s firms such as former NAMFS Secretary Heather Berghorst whom owned Berghorst Enterprises — amongst other firms — Buczek Enterprises whom also settled claims of employee misclassification, InsuranceTEK whose owner, Vicki Boser is facing a 20 year prison sentence, Boyd Property Preservation, Michael Breese whom owned HomeStar Property Solutions, Brian Mingham whom owned National Real Estate Solutions — the list goes on and on and on. The road map for this was laid bare in our story today.
Safeguard Properties (SGP) CEO Alan Jaffa has a brother back in New York. His name is Jack Jaffa. And in May of 2009, Jaffa formed National Management and Preservation Services LLC, d/b/a National Field Network (NFN) in Delaware which was then brought into New Jersey as a foreign corporation in October 2009. This was at the veritable height of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Robosigning was in vogue, Wall Street was receiving bail outs at astronomical rates, and NAMFS members were partying in the streets like it was 1999. Champagne bottles were being uncorked almost as quick as yachts were purchased. And from the inception of NFN, Jaffa hired Sam Stern to recruit a woman whose connections to NAMFS founder John “Chip” Ward were storied. Her name was Shari Nott. Their relationship is well documented and existed throughout the days of Ward Associates, First American Field Services and their movement into Florida in 1997, and ultimately through First American Financial’s purchase of Ward Associates and the hiring of Ward. It would be fair to say that Ward, whom passed in 2013, was the mentor to Nott as she elaborated upon in Ward’s eulogy, “The hundreds of Wardisms learned from you have guided me through many obstacles in life. You will be missed and never forgotten.”
Jaffa was the 100% owner of NFN and classified as an investor according to federal court documents, while “Nott was given complete control of the [NFN] business and was responsible for all major decisions. Nott’s job duties included operations, client services, business development and information technology.” Thus, it is critical to understand the mindset of NAMFS, its founder, Chip Ward, and ultimately Ward’s protégé Nott.
In 2010 Chris Crandell was hired as NFN’s Chief Operating Officer to the tune of $288,000 a year. Then in February 2011, National Field Network Now, LLC d/b/a All the Right Movers (NFN Now) was formed. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of NFN Now. NFN Now provided property preservation services and was formed with an original intent to franchise the business. Foreclosurepedia has also confirmed the franchising angle with another party whom was recruited to undertake services associated with this goal. In an interview in 2017, this is what was said,
I will answer any questions you ask if I have any answers but remember I was never respected or trusted by Chris or Shari and never brought into any confidential information or situations. So as far as any dark secrets I have none. I’m not sure about that company name you mentioned. To my understanding NFN Now was supposed to turn into a franchise opportunity for vendors. Sort of like a McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Total separate entity from NFN. Two separate businesses two separate bank accounts.
According to federal court documents, NFN “… provided NFN Now with the start-up funds to commence operations[,]” and “NFN Now shared office space with the Debtor.” In 2011, NFN secured contracts with Reverse Mortgage Solutions (RMS). To understand this relationship, one really needs to understand how it began. In 2014 two companies were collapsing based out of Derby, NY. One was Buczek Enterprises and the other was ACA Asset Management Group. Without getting into the extremely eclectic history of the Buczek Family — simply search their name on Foreclosurepedia — the name we are interested in is Amanda Buczek. Amanda is the daughter of Dan Buczek whom founded the company. ACA is simply the death spiral, quasi-subsidiary. NFN had hired Buczek Enterprises to perform an enormous amount of distressed asset servicing for them. As we began digging into the historic levels of fraud allegations, we had occasion to flip two sources. The first was the then CIO of both Buczek Enterprises and ACA. The other was the then Associate General Counsel of Altisource. We are primarily going to discuss the CIO. This was a message from 2014,
Thanks for your email, I’ve been meaning to send you a VM confirmation. I apologize for not handling that yet. Buczek‘s story with NFN travels miles. We can certainly discuss tomorrow via telephone if you’re around?
With Amanda, she held a sales position at NFN because while she was a partner in her own business, we as a company aren’t big enough to support a marketer of Amanda’s caliber. She truly knows everyone and is quite the saleswoman. Attended many conferences, etc., that sort of thing. That being said, IMHO, our company was grossly used to NFN’s benefit.. while it looked like the relationship was beneficial on the surface, it was way skewed towards NFN and once it was clear that the relationship was toxic we exited it Amanda found other employment. The control was and always has been in Shari’s hands. From my technology standpoint, we did a ton of work for NFN that was definitely their responsibility but due to their [lack of] technology we were forced to do it.
NFN took the position that it “fired” Buczek Enterprises which caused a massive collapse and ripple effect throughout the Industry. In fact, the CIO had this to say when they had figured out that the fix was in,
Last but not least, NFN did not fire us. If they are saying that, that’s their business Sounds desperate. Even saying it was a mutual separation would be a stretch IMHO…
After the collapse of Buczek Enterprises, Amanda Buczek was brought in house to NFN and ultimately went to work at Reverse Mortgage Solutions. Whether this was a reward for the collapse or simply a raiding of the rolodex is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that millions of dollars in billable invoices went up in smoke which NFN never had to pay. In fact, within only weeks of Foreclosurepedia publishing, the following was issued from Buczek Enterprises,
Due to circumstances beyond our control we are hereby notifying you that on Tuesday March 18th, 2014 all new work orders submitted to Buczek Enterprises, LLC. will be rejected. We are unable to make exceptions to this timeframe and request that you immediately work to identify the impact to your business and make adjustments as necessary. All work orders submitted prior to 11:59pm EST on Monday March 17th, 2014 will be accepted and completed.
By the 24th of March, Labor was in high gear putting together door hanging parties protesting Buczek Enterprises refusal to pay them. Here was an email sent to Amanda and Adam — Amanda’s one brother without felony convictions,
we got 10,000 door hangers we will be posting on every home we ever did for you guys we will be posting these at all union halls, grocery stores bars clubs subways we also have some really nice posters to hang … we need to get the word out to all of philly and suburbs buczek ent. will soon be a house hold name this door hanging event will help to meet new contractors for your company and mine next thursday your also invited to the protest at a bank this bank hires company’s who rip people off im living proof
I digress. On August 22, 2011, NFN Investments MI, LLC (Investments) was formed in the State of Michigan as a limited liability company. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of Investments. According to federal court documents, “… RMS requested that the Debtor and/or Nott purchase a portfolio of approximately thirty (30) properties in Michigan, which was the purpose for Investments being formed.” In May 2013, NFN Claims (“Claims”) was formed. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of Claims. Claims was formed to file and process mortgage insurance claims. Claims stopped operating when NFN stopped operating. Crandell formed All the Right Movers, LLC as a Delaware corporation headquartered in Pennsylvania (ATRM DE/PA). In November 2015, Trio Solutions, LLC (“Trio”) was formed. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of Trio. Trio was an entity to be used to address non-payment of homeowners association dues for the institutions which used NFN’s services. In March 2017, Commigrate Capital, LLC (Commigrate) was formed. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of Commigrate. Upon information and belief, Commigrate was an entity to be used to outsource customer service of the Debtor. In or about July 2017, Chik-Chak Shack, LLC (Chik-Chak) was formed. At the time of its formation, Nott, Jaffa and Crandell were the members of Chik-Chak. During the same period of time, Nott formed a company called Plan A and she was the sole member of that company. And finally, in February 2018, All the Right Movers Unlimited, LLC was formed. Jonathan Oglensky, Nott’s husband, is the registered agent.
Of note are several things. First, federal court documents state that NFN was insolvent by 31 December 2015. In January 2017, NFN had laid off 25% of their work force and by November they fired all but 30 employees out of an estimated original 200. And by early 2018, Crandell was fired.
It is that December 2015 insolvency that is important. The jig was up and yet NFN — Jaffa, Nott, Crandell and Seif continued to operate like nothing was amiss. For years, the Fraud Four pushed out work orders while simultaneously clawing back monies owed to Labor under a spurious chargeback scheme. These actions allowed Nott to draw a salary of $350,000 plus other benefits including additional salary advances of $1,088,517.55. While this, in and of itself, was heinous, Nott’s receiving of $6,039,586.10 from NFN was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is how it was described in federal court documents,
The Nott Loan is comprised of various personal expenses, e.g., funds in excess of $500,000 made available to Nott to purchase a residence in Long Branch, New Jersey, to funds advanced related to vacation homes in the Bahamas, luxury vehicles, including a Thunderbird, multiple Audi vehicles, a specialty Tesla vehicle and a Ford Explorer, to payment of contractors who did personal work for Nott at her various residences and/or other business ventures.
Additionally, around April of 2018, NFN, Nott, Crandell, Oglensky, NFN Now, Investments, ATRM DEPA, Trio and Commigrate entered into a “Mutual Release and Transfer Agreement,” which provided that Nott, Oglensky, NFN Now, Investments and Commigrate would pay $60,000 in exchange for the transfer of Crandell’s interests in ATRM DE/PA, Investments and Commigrate to Nott, and his interests in NFN Now to Oglensky. Many looked at this as a payment in exchange for silence memorialization.
Stay tuned for the breakdown of the monies which the federal trustee is demanding from Jaffa, Nott, Crandell, Seif, and Oglensky in this week’s Foreclosurepedia Industry Insider. We can tell you this, they are in the millions of dollars. We also walk you through all the ins and outs of how NFN was allowed — supported — by other NAMFS members in their historic meltdown. It’s a perp walk you don’t want to miss!
In 2016, when National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) Executive Director Eric Miller attempted to whitewash nearly One Million Dollars in Insurance Fraud, Foreclosurepedia was having nothing of it. Here is how the Department of Justice put it, “Insurance agent charged with wire fraud for scheme to steal $750,000 in insurance premiums from clients across the country.” Miller and the NAMFS Board were advised about the fraud in October of 2016 according to Brian Carney, Executive Vice President of Cochrane Agency, Inc. whom were then a NAMFS Associate Member, at the time. Miller and the NAMFS Board purposefully waited until December of 2016 to bring this information to the victims, for reasons unknown. At the time, Carney verified that Cochrane Agency was cooperating with Washington State Insurance Commission investigators and that Eric Miller and the NAMFS Board of Directors were informed months ago. He gave me the name and number of one of the investigators whom I was unable to reach before the time of publishing. That is where the world became a very strange melange of low tech email subversion by the Cochrane Agency. Carney sent Foreclosurepedia an email with respect to the names and contacts of the investigators via email. Carney knew that I had been talking to victims and I believe presumed that I would forward that email to they. Carney appears to have purposefully embedded a tracking pixel, which generally connects to a GIF file stored on a web server. Each time a tracking pixel is viewed, it generally pulls the GIF file from the server, creating a logged event that lets a person know exactly how many times someone accessed the message or forwards it.
Vicki Boser, who owned and operated InsuranceTek, Inc., appeared on an indictment in U.S. District Court in Seattle, on 13 November 2020. Boser was charged with pocketing premium payments from insurance clients and providing fake certificates of insurance of $750,000 and is facing up to 20 years in federal prison. According to records filed in the case, between 2014 and 2016, Boser defrauded various clients in high-risk insurance fields. Boser founded InsuranceTek, Inc., in 2003 and specialized in assisting small businesses that work in high-risk fields‑‑including private investigators, process servers, mortgage and field service companies, and security guard companies — in securing insurance policies to cover their business operations. Boser would find companies willing to insure the high-risk companies, and if necessary, find a company to finance the premium payments. Boser was required by law to collect the premium payments from the clients and pay them over to the insurance companies. Instead, she pocketed some of the payments, created false insurance certificates, and led the high-risk companies to believe they were insured. In some instances, the insurance companies cancelled the insurance for lack of payment, but Boser received the notice and hid it from the insured. The insurance premiums were tens of thousands of dollars — in one case more than $100,000. Boser used the money for her personal expenses, including spending a great deal of money at a casino resort.
Boser had clients across the country — many small family owned businesses that placed a great deal of trust in Boser. Court records detail the frauds regarding an Illinois-based property inspection business, and Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas-based businesses that maintain foreclosed homes. Some of the clients only learned their insurance policies had been cancelled when they contacted the companies about renewing the policies. The investigation was triggered when the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office received complaints. Both the FBI and the Criminal Investigative Division of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner are involved in the investigation.
For nearly five years, Foreclosurepedia pursued the matter with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. And during those five years, Eric Miller did everything in his power to sweep the issue under the carpet. The problem, though, was those three months he chose to keep victims in the dark. And this has come to be both a pattern and a practice of Eric Miller. Take for example Miller’s continued refusal to produce the NAMFS IRS 990 income tax form required, by federal law, to be presented to the public upon request.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington updated the following for Boser’s upcoming trial,
Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge James L. Robart – CRD: Ashleigh Drecktrah; AUSA: Lyndsie Schmalz; Def Cnsl: Michael Nance; Court Reporter: Nancy Bauer; TELEPHONIC STATUS HEARING as to Vicki Boser held on 4/5/2021. The court and counsel discuss the status of this matter. The court resets the trial date for Thursday, 10/7/2021; Pretrial motions due by 8/26/2021. Defendant remains on bond. (AD) (Entered: 04/05/2021)
And as the investigation continued, it became apparent that NAMFS and Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS) were cherry picking how they background check people which calls into question the veracity of the ABC Number AGS deploys. As many remember, Eric Miller convened a special meeting to rubber stamp the ABC Number with former Wells Fargo acolyte Jim Taylor cracking the whip. Many, including the Chairman of the meeting at the time, described the process as a gun to the head in order to pass the mandate.
Karla Deane was was employed as a processor by Boser at InsuranceTEK. In a licensing appeal, Boser was called as a witness to testify on behalf of Deane in August of 2016. In fact, Deane had been convicted of Trafficking In Stolen Property in the Second Degree four years earlier. Her relationship with Boser was solidified as her mother worked for Boser. According to NAMFS and AGS, this would be a crime in which she would be forbidden to work in the Mortgage Field Services Industry. And as in many cases such as the hiring of Melissa Shankin as Operations Manager at Five Brothers whom had a felony Possession of a Controlled Substance as well as tax liens, the federal convictions of family members for fraud and investigations about militia ties at Buczek Enterprises, the Breaking Bad theft of a motor home by Jay Goscinski, Mickey Snow with the felony Arson conviction — you get the point. The reality is that NAMFS members are given the wink and a nod when it comes to compliance.
The pattern and practice of Eric Miller and NAMFS itself has been called into question dozens of times going all the way back to the 2003 meeting between NAMFS founder, John Ward, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Multiple NAMFS members have committed fraud to the tune of millions of dollars against innocent victims with the latest catastrophe ending up in the involuntary bankruptcy of National Field Network (NFN). And instead of that fraud being punished it has only been rewarded by other fellow NAMFS members. For NAMFS members to continue supporting the rampant fraud throughout the Mortgage Field Services Industry is an atrocity. And as history will reflect as both Labor and Management stood by witnessing the financial terrorism unleashed by NAMFS members, Foreclosurepedia was the only one whom ever fought for the victims.
Foreclosurepedia has been a Friend of Labor for the past decade partnering with the IAFST to assist those through our No Contractor Left Behind Mission. All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of Foreclosurepedia.