HUD Key Codes: What They Are And Why They Are Changing

Secretary Ben Carson Takes Action Upon HUD Key Codes Being Abused

This entry is part 44 of 44 in the series All The Usual Suspects

For years, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has utilized the same key codes for their properties. And while these key codes were only designed to service FHA insured properties, the entirety of the Mortgage Field Services Industry took the liberty of using them as their own. In fact, multiple members of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) have released the key codes to the general public. Foreclosurepedia has contacted Eric Miller, NAMFS Executive Director, multiple times, in an attempt to get these key codes taken down to no avail. NVMS, a NAMF Member, continues to publicly display the HUD Master key codes of their Clients. In fact, MFS Supply, originally founded as Mendamir Locks by the current CEO of Safeguard Properties (SGP) Alan Jaffa and controlled by SGP’s current Director of Community Initiatives, Michael Halpern, clearly displays and sells pre struck HUD Master key code keys not only for HUD, but for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack, US Marshals, and a plethora of other financial institutions.

For years, Foreclosurepedia has argued that making HUD Master Key Codes available to anyone is a serious threat to US Government assets. Fact of the matter is that with a set of keys available for a dollar a piece from MFS Supply, criminals are capable of entering into virtually any foreclosed property in the United States or its Territories. Simply think about the ability to walk into your neighbor’s home and remove anything you want when they are gone. And tragically, when things are stolen, NAMFS Members never address the underlying problem: It’s own Membership not only sell the keys, but publish the keycodes! It globally fosters a national security threat. The ability for terrorists to have ready access to hundreds of thousands of properties throughout the United States and its Territories by simply paying one dollar, per key, is unacceptable.

Richard Law, founder of the Society of Field Inspectors (SOFI) is a man whom has been in the Industry for over three decades. In fact, Law was present for the 2003 NAMFS Meeting with HUD in Washington, DC, where John Ward and others were in attendance. For months now, SOFI and Foreclosurepedia have been lobbying HUD to address the actions being taken by NAMFS Members by and through both the publication of key codes and the outright selling of the samesaid. During that process, discussions occurred between HUD and both SOFI and Foreclosurepedia. In conjunction with these discussions with HUD, Law took the extraordinary step of sending a certified package to HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s personal residence. Inside of that package was a 10 page letter and 12 HUD keys. It started off like this,

I purchased the enclosed set of 12 HUD master keys on E-Bay on April 20, 2017. These keys are the master keys that will unlock the front door and open padlocks on HUD pre-foreclosure and REO properties. The price was $24.99 and the shipping was free. There is also a 17-key HUD Master Key Set on E-Bay for $24.99. I have no need to have a set of these 12 HUD master keys as I have no need to know nor am I authorized any access to the HUD asset pool. Rest easy as I will not be visiting any HUD properties with HUD master keys in my pocket. I simply ordered the 12 HUD master keys on E-Bay with a credit card and I received them by mail in a few days. They are now yours to protect.

Contrary to popular belief, Secretary Carson received both the keys and the 10 page document from Law. And to quote HUD, the message was [heard] loud and clear. Here is what HUD had to say, earlier today,

Your package was received by the Secretary’s office, and I can assure you that the message was communicated loud and clear.  In fact, the keys you had sent were tested on approximately 50 different properties spanning several HOCs, and I can positively affirm that they did in fact open a large volume of those properties.  I had previously forwarded and expressed my concerns to HUD HQ SFAM based on Mr. Williams’ original email to me.  However, I can say undoubtedly that your letter/package helped expedite the changes that were already underway.

And let me couch this in a manner which the Foreclosurepedia Nation has come to expect, over the years. This was not a low level intervention. This was a Cabinet level Secretary, in the Trump Administration, whom took a long, hard look at something and acted decisively. Secretary Carson is a man whom, as a doctor, has held life and death in his hands — literally. While jovial and outgoing, he is a gentleman whom is accustomed to wielding his intellect in a manner not dissimilar from the scalpel. His analytical mind comprehends a vast amount of information and acts upon in rapidly. I mean, let’s walk through this, for just a moment. The package was delivered a mere handful of weeks ago. After it was inspected and opened, individuals were dispatched out to examine properties in multiple HOC’s. That means that a plan of attack was formulated; phone calls, emails, and authorizations for things like vehicles, per diem meal allotments, files pulled — you get the point. That took both a marshalling of power during the infancy of his Secretaryship and an allocation of funds. Secretary Carson’s baptism under fire was successful in two ways. First, he took a risk and prevailed. Second, he found new avenues through which to garner strategic intelligence necessary to further both HUD and the Trump Administration’s promises to Make America Great Again. We will get more into that, in a moment.

With all of the tens of millions of dollars which NAMFS and the Industry as a whole have invested, it is ironic how a writer in a county with one stop light and the founder of a Society were able to change the entire landscape of both pre and post conveyance FHA insured homes. Foreclosurepedia averages roughly $63 per month in financing and I am unaware of any donations made to SOFI.

 

For years, I have stated that I have never found anyone interested in changing the Industry, for the better, unless it profited them. In fact, many of my conversations I have with people revolve around, “If we do that, it will cost us money.” You see, it is that slave mentality that keeps Labor from ever organizing. What costs people money is their refusal to invest a single penny or even a few minutes a day in that which betters their lives. Get involved. Learn the Issues. Act upon them. Whether you are NAMFS or the International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST); whether you are Management or Labor; whether you are a Field Service Technician or a Processor, commit to start making your voices heard TODAY!

This is not simply another blue ribbon panel discussion which HUD is engaging in. The days of anyone, anywhere, at any time, being capable of accessing FHA insured properties are rapidly coming to an end.

HUD is currently taking steps to eliminate the master key locksets from circulation, and has already taken steps to permanently stop using a large number of the keycodes that are currently in circulation.

Secretary Carson is taking no prisoners. And the days in which anyone was capable of interfering with HUD operations with a wink and a nod, are coming to an end just as quick. Let us continue upon the Letter which Secretary Carson read,

The HUD master key codes have been showing up on Craigslist. I saw an April 2017 Detroit and Chicago contractor job postings where all the current HUD master key codes were listed in the Craigslist job posting. The Craigslist postings also send the job seekers to a non-secure application link at a website where again, all of the HUD master key codes were listed. Most locksmiths can create a HUD master key when they are provided with the key code. Having the key codes easily gets you to the master keys. Key codes are like communications crypto keys. When you know the codes, you have complete secret access.

Access. That is part of what it is all about. What is also important is the regulating of access and the proper documentation thereof. I am not speaking of background checks, here. I am speaking of knowing whom did what and when they did it in a real time aspect which I will get into in a White Paper to be released after the Holiday Weekend. And I want to belabor the fact that, right now, even changing the key codes, alone, is not the solution. It is a good, first step, which HUD states they are underway with,

New procedures are also being put into place regarding the frequency of lockset changes, as well as restricting the availability of the locksets/keys themselves.  In my discussions with HUD HQ SFAM, following communication from the Secretary’s office, their intention was to get all of the high risk inventory rekeyed by [Redacted].  However, due to a national backorder caused by all of the FSMs ordering at once, it likely will be closer to late-[Redacted] prior to all of the current inventory being rekeyed.

The high price which HUD has paid, is not simply when properties are broken into and HUD then pays an over-allowable. In fact, that over-allowable is highly inflated as Minority Females and Labor must pay a kickback to the National, Regional, or Otherwise Unspecified Order Mill illegally by and through a Mandatory Discounting. The liability in which NAMFS Members have laid at the feet of HUD, upon FHA insured properties, should send chills up the spine of the Trump Administration, as the Letter to Secretary Carson continues to demonstrate,

An assault, rape or murder in a vacant HUD home by a criminal with unauthorized HUD master keys would open a real can of worms for HUD. There would be investigations on HUD security. There would be media reporting. The security of the HUD pool of assets is out of control. HUD has no idea of who has access to all of the HUD pre-foreclosure and REO homes. There are no logs or records of who has HUD master keys. You must assume that everyone has access to HUD master keys or HUD master key codes. The key codes are not classified, but they are very sensitive. I believe that the key codes don’t change very often. In the 1990’s, I keyed a lot of HUD knob-locks to [Redacted] over a 10-year period. The [Redacted] padlock key code has not changed in 25 years. The security of the HUD pool of assets is very important. I want to emphasize that the set of 12 HUD master keys enclosed with open the front door and padlocks of HUD pre-foreclosure and REO homes. Some of the enclosed master keys may also lead to VA, Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac properties.

Wow. And here is the kicker, for nearly a decade now, both Eric Miller and NAMFS have been unresponsive to Foreclosurepedia’s requests to have its Membership stop selling the HUD Master Keys and to instruct its Membership to cease from publishing the HUD Master Key Codes. It comes as no surprise, though, when institutional dogma is more important than the safety and security of both US Government assets or the American Public, as the Letter to Secretary Carson demonstrates,

I emailed the HUD OIG using their hotline. They did not respond. It might be good HUD headquarters policy to require the HUD OIG to acknowledge emails sent to them. If they don’t care enough to respond, I will probably never email them again. I also sent the same email to Paul Williams at Foreclosurepedia.org and he forwarded the information to the HUD M&M contract officer who acknowledged receipt.

In fairness, both Secretary Carson and HUD did not drag their feet in addressing the issue as HUD’s statement to me revealed. And the fact of the matter is that HUD is potentially gunning for the pre-conveyance assets, as well,

Most of the initial changes are intended to be applied to HUD REO (post-conveyance) only, as time was of the essence.  However, I have confirmed that the Acting Single Family GDAS, [Redacted], also has her staff preparing a Mortgagee Letter to remedy some of the bad behaviors on the pre-conveyance side as well!  It’s worth mentioning that for new REO acquisitions going forward, FSMs will be responsible for rekeying using a different code than the pre-conveyance servicer, immediately upon acquisition.

And while not currently being addressed by HUD, the Letter to Secretary Carson delves deeper into the illegal activity being fostered by NAMFS, going as far back as the NAMFS 2003 HUD Meeting in Washington, DC,

There are a lot of serious problems in the mortgage segment of the industry that are outside of HUD. I can connect you with someone who knows about the real criminal happenings in the mortgage segment. The bank servicer Ocwen is a good example of serious mortgage segment problems. Some of the Mortgage Order Mills (MOMs) are paying the property preservation mechanic $14 a cubic yard for debris removal when the HUD cost allowable is $50 a cubic yard. The MOMs are taking 72% of the fee paid by the Government. There is a lot of bid fraud in the industry … bank and Government auditors are not digging deep enough. They only do what is easy. They miss the tricks. The fraud works this way. The Mortgage Order Mill (MOM) asks the subcontractor to bid a property preservation task on a HUD property. The bid is submitted. The MOM tells the subcontractor that HUD will not accept the bid as it is too high. There was no such communication from HUD. This never happened. The contractor is told they must do the work for a lower price and they agree. If they don’t agree, they don’t get any more work. There is no second bid paperwork in any file for the reduced price. The MOM submits the higher original bid for payment. It is paid. The auditor does not go deep enough in the audit to see what the subcontractor was paid and see that the subcontractor completed the task for a lower price. It’s a game and some of the MOMs are ripping off hard working people in the field. I brought this up at a meeting many, many years ago at HUD headquarters in DC and no one even blinked their eyes. HUD needs to have some town hall meetings or conference calls with the people who work in the field. Many of the Mortgage Order Mill (MOM) websites have non-secure application web links. Google has identified some infected with malware.

In fact, a Whistleblower’s lawsuit entitled Brown v Five Brothers, et al., which was filed several years ago dealing with several of these issues; however, HUD stated to the US Attorney’s office, that they wanted no part of the potentially billions of dollars which had been defrauded from, ironically, HUD itself. And when one calculates the tens of millions of dollars which are defrauded from Minority Females and Labor each month from fraudulent charge backs that NAMFS Members collect and never remit to HUD, perhaps this is something that Secretary Carson and his staff should look into further. Should his staff ever like the files, emails, photos, telephone recordings and a whole lot more, all they ever have to do is ask.

Or maybe Foreclosurepedia may just send that, in a package, to Secretary Carson himself.

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