AMC sues Owner of Fraud Database and Website

Allison Tussey —  June 25, 2007 — 22 Comments

eAppraiseIT, LLC filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Brevard County Florida against Pamela Crowley, an appraiser that runs a website at www.mortgagefraudwatchlist.org and acts as a moderator on Appraiser’s Forum (www.AppraisersForum.com)

The lawsuit includes causes of action for defamation per se and tortuous interference with advantageous business relations and seeks injunctive relief and damages.

The lawsuit alleges that Crowley publishes a website that contains ‘false, injurious and defamatory statements’ about eAppraiseIT’s business practices, in particular, EAppraiseIT the complaint references the following alleged statements:

I have many stories coming in from appraisers all over the nation regarding EAppraiseIT demanding that they do what is unethical at the least.

LSI, eAppraiseIT, AppraisalPort, and many others ARE: unlocking your appraisal reports, ‘converting’ them to something else, delivering them completely unlocked, doing whatever they want with and to the data along the way. At this point I very strongly suggest that ALL appraisers SHOULD IMMEDIATELY STOP SENDING ANYTHING IN TO ANY OF THESE AMCs!!! The evidence I already have that is being delivered to various Federal and State law enforcement and regulators, and others with much more coming in regularly, would make your eyes pop out of your heads.

[o]ne of the best examples of the power and results of what I’ve been doing is what happened with eAppraiseIT pressuring an appraiser to raise the value and finding out that they DO unlock each and every appraisal delivered through them! Without the contacts I’ve been able to collect, I don’t know that anything could have happened.

Please know that eAppraiseIT opens your appraisals to make additions to it. Knowing that, how is your signature secured anymore?

The Complaint alleges that these statements have negatively impacted eAppraiseIT‘s trustworthiness and character, caused eAppraiseIT to be subjected to distrust, ridicule, contempt and disgrace and injured eAppraiseIT‘s reputation and goodwill in the appraisal management industry.

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22 responses to AMC sues Owner of Fraud Database and Website

  1. “…. reputation in the appraisal management industry.” An AMC actually claiming they have good character and reputation??? That’s like Al Capone saying he had a good reputation in Chicago… before they arrested him. How could anybody harm a business that has a reputation that was in the mudd way before someone actually spoke up? Very sad when scammers like exxxxx sue nice people

  2. This is similar to the news posting a picture of a man that is a suspect in a crime and to call police if you spot him. You have not personally witnessed that individual commiting a crime but you have been warned to watch out for them…you probably would not go and ask them to babysit for you if you spotted them would you? The public has every right to know about suspicious activity. I create and maintain the exclusionary list for a large mortgage broker, our list however is strictly for internal use only. Although some may think it a good opportunity to sue when a third party suggests that you dont do business with a company, it is most certainly important to get the point across. If she has the evidence to support what she has posted about the company she should come off ok. Especially if its complaints from people that have personally dealt with that company and found that their practice methods are questionable and unethical. The solution to a large part of these problems is there needs to be a NATIONAL EXCLUSIONARY website. Where both lenders, brokers AND borrowers can reference who they should and should not do business with. But unfortunately the resources to support and maintain such a direly needed hub of information spawning from arrests, indictments, complaints and lawsuits is more than any one person is able to take on. I really and sincerely hope that she comes off ok as she is only one of many who are trying damn hard to help protect others from falling victim to the painfully sharp rise of scams and unethical practices in the mortgage business nationwide.

  3. I think they should try managing MDs or CPAs for a change. I love the fact that management companies want half the fee for doing nothing more than sending the order back and forth. They do not have the license, designation, liability insurance, etc. etc. The consumer ends up with a half price product for a full fee. Try telling other professionals you want to do that. Why don’t they manage attorneys and termite companies while they are at it?

  4. eApraiseIT’s claim: “these (Crowley’s) statements have negatively impacted eAppraiseIT‘s trustworthiness and character, caused eAppraiseIT to be subjected to distrust, ridicule, contempt and disgrace and injured eAppraiseIT‘s reputation and goodwill in the appraisal management industry.”
    Like as if their own behavior and lame product hasn’t already done this! Maybe they should sue First American for their bad reputation?

  5. Good article and comments

  6. Here is an email that the editor of WRE Magazine sent me concerning a lawsuit against FNC & Appraisalport:

    We have talked to the attorney handling the case and he has told us to tell anyone interested in joining the case (you aren’t the first to write in) that because this is a class action, a plaintiff needs to do nothing proactive. The court will simply “certify” the class and at that point all appraisers who have used AppraisalPort are automatically part of the lawsuit, unless a plaintiff proactively “opts out” of the class.

    If you would like additional information, please let me know and I will pass your message to the attorney.

    Thank you,

    Cary Barker

    WRE Assistant Editor

  7. I do not do business with eAppraiseIT. I thought about it once but did not feel comfortable about it. I also do not do business with their parent company. I did (and still could), but I did not like what the parent company did to appraiser (and their fees–including mine) when they merged with/bought one of my steady clients.

    I know Pam can come across rough at times. She is very outspoken about what she believes. I am convinced that public statements made by her were backed by some sort of proof.

    I look forward to the results and wish Miz Pam well.

  8. I don’t know about opening appraisals but I quit doing business with EappraiseIt because of pressure to change reports and their low fees. As far as I am concerned they are not the type of orginization I want to do business with and they do not provide a service the mortgage or appraisal industries. That’s my opinion

  9. Bottom line: The action has merit and the defendant has assets.

    There is a growing trend of piercing the perception of anonymity of bloggers and holding them accountable for their actions. Particularly those with assets.

  10. If you think it has merit you are on another planet. If this ever gets to court and the respondent receives support from other appraisers the plaintiff will lose beyond their imagination. What will attorneys do when management companies try to take over their business? How about trying to ask your doctor for half his fee when you refer him a patient. Unlocking appraisals is a federal offense punishable per federal law. If an AMC is doing that or it can be proved that they tried to influence the appraiser to raise the value goodbye AMC. I can tell it will be no problem to prove these facts. I know I have been on the receiving end of AMCs and have been in this business for 37 yrs.

    Robert Mitchell, SRA

  11. Appraisers push for real estate fraud rules
    Testimony before Senate subcommittee reveals pressure placed on
    appraisers to inflate valuations.
    By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer
    June 26 2007: 4:18 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — It’s called “hitting the number” – or
    inflating a home’s value – and real estate appraisers who don’t do
    it often enough can find it hard to make a living.

    In prepared testimony Tuesday before a Senate subcommittee on
    mortgage industry abuses, Alan Hummel, spokesman for the Appraisal
    Institute said “Appraisers face pressure from various parties
    involved in mortgage transactions. They are told to doctor their
    appraisals or else never see work from those parties again.”

    Hummel blamed poor regulation of mortgage brokers and lenders, and
    weak or nonexistent enforcement of real estate practitioners.

    Unscrupulous mortgage brokers should be singled out for special
    blame, according to Mike Evans, a fellow of the American Society of
    Appraisers.
    “Mortgage brokers are on commission,” he said. “If the deal doesn’t
    go through, they don’t get paid. They don’t care about anything but
    making the deal.”

    And the deal can run into trouble if a buyer thinks the home is
    worth less than the selling price. “If the appraisal comes in below,
    they can’t get the deal done,” said Evans. That’s when the mortgage
    brokers and real estate agents may hit the warpath. “They have to go
    out and beat up the appraisers,” said Evans, who said he’s been
    threatened himself, “and find one they can twist.”

    The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) addressed the
    issue last year, changing its bylaws to prohibit pressure on any
    other players in the transaction, including appraisers.

    “NAMB opposes any effort by a mortgage originator to pressure or
    influence the work of an appraiser,” NAMB director Denise Leonard
    testified Tuesday.

    According to Joe Falk, Legislative Committee Chair for NAMB, there’s
    a fine line between discussion and pressure. Many brokers will
    question appraisers if valuations come in lower that brokers think
    appropriate. Appraisers may feel pressured under those
    circumstances.

    He conceded that there are some rogue brokers out there who have
    used coercion and threats to try to get a higher appraisal, which is
    one of the reasons that NAMB has taken a harder line against
    pressure of any kind.

    It’s been said that overvaluing helped push prices up during the
    boom and has made home buyers more vulnerable during the current
    slump. If a home was bought for $200,000 that was really worth
    $180,000 and prices have now dropped 5 percent, its value is
    $171,000. Owners may owe much more than the property is worth.

    Appraisal fraud’s damage can reach beyond the individual. The
    potential foreclosures can have serious impacts on entire
    neighborhoods.
    According to a study by Dan Immergluck, a Georgia Tech associate
    professor of city and regional planning, foreclosures lower the
    property values of neighboring homes located within an eighth of a
    mile by about 1 percent per foreclosure.

    Clusters of foreclosures can destabilize fragile neighborhoods – the
    vacant houses can attract squatters, drug dealers and scavengers –
    and send them on downward spirals.

    As long as prices were quickly appreciating up, many of these
    problems didn’t surface but with the housing slump, they’re bubbling
    up.

    The remedy to most appraisal fraud, as far as Evans is concerned, is
    greater scrutiny for mortgage brokers.

    “When they start getting sued – just like appraisers do – they’ll
    start cleaning up their act.”

  12. LawyerX used a fake email address. I wonder why?

  13. What’s the big deal? Appraisors are completely useless to begin with. They add no value whatsoever and contribute nothing to real estate transactions. They simply do what they are told (hit the number) or you get one that will. Their role has become completely marginalized to where they are now just a piece of paper needed to complete the file check list.

  14. I know for a fact that eAppraiseIT has unlocked my pdf files, added their watermark and changed the security settings. Complaints have been filed with my states bank commisioner and the state appraisal board.

    Pam has my support all day long. I sent her a check.

  15. Patrick have you ever heard of a spellchecker?

    Per your comment go to divorce court or a probate without an appraisal and see where you end up. If you have any money to lend I am sure they are many people who want to talk to you, since you feel appraisals are unnecessary.

    There are plenty of bad apples in every business and the appraisal business has more than its fair share. If you control the pressure brought on appraisers by lenders, etc this situation would be much different and there would be little fraud involved.

  16. The fact is that there are alot of Honest Appraisers out there doing the job as they should. Appraisers protect the lender and also the borrowers if their job is done correctly..

    However, many lenders don’t want to know the truth..They just want the deal to work so they can get paid….That is the bottom line..FOLLOW THE MONEY…And that trail will NOT lead you to the average appraiser…

    As far as these AMC’s go..They do data mine appraisal reports,, and in my view, they do this illegially. They also over charge the consumer for the appraisal fee and usually have a newly licensed appraiser doing the work for next to nothing….As if competence matters…

    The average appraiser does not have the same representation in Washington as the MBA, NBA or those REAgents.

    All we have is the Appraisal Institute who is irrelivant at best and does nothing to protect or advance the average appraiser..

    I support Pam and her stance on Mortgage Fraud and appraiser pressure..

    But the main question to be asked is this,,

    Who ownes these AMC’s, who really benefits?

    The answer is NOT THE CONSUMER…

  17. A simple procedure,used by VA since 2003, has the appraiser call the client when there is a value issue.The client has 48hrs to provide add’l support, appraiser then comments on the data, completes the report. Takes a lot of wind out of the sail. Maybe a national appraiser rotation list (like VA) would help.

  18. Kudos to Ms. Crowley, I wish I had more time to join here in her quest against worthless AMC’s. The AMC’s are supposed to be in business to foster appraiser independence, however from my experience it has been business as usual. Eapprraiseit in particular has become the Wallmart of AMC’s. I have received assignments from Eappraiseit instructing me to contat them immediately if there are value issues, also a USPAP violation in my view. I also beleive that eappraiseit has outsourced some of their ordering and processing to the East Indies, not a crime, but un-American in my view.

  19. Let’s see eappraiseit cut my fees almost in half, insisted I have a turnaround time in 48 hours, was very difficult in many aspects including giving my email address to a local lender who was instrumental in me not receiving his assignments anymore because as the LO put it ” didn’t hit the numbers about 50% of the time”. Also, I have been yelled at, scolded, insulted and instructed to add/delete items in my reports. Perhaps, eppraiseit needs an overhaul and a reality check as a reminder of what they are supposed to do.

  20. My Husband and I live in Michigan and we refinance our house with AMC Mortgage and they had the appraisr jack the price on the house because i had it re done this put summer and it was like 10,000 dollars different then when they did then my new mortgage company. If i did not re do the mortgage this past summer i would of been paying like 11% interst on my house and the payments would of went to 1000 dollars a month and that did not include the taxes or insurnce for the house. So I am not for sure how to go about taking care of this. I know we got a paper in the paper saying that there is a class action sutie right now and we filled out the papers

  21. I complained to my bank that uses an AMC known as Lenders Services. Had two appraisals done for a major lender on my home. I paid for the second appraisal. The AMC stated that a second appraiser could be hired if I agreed to pay for the appraisal. I paid $400 for the appraisal and my townhouse was worth $330,000 by the second appraiser. I was very happy with the results. The AMC said the bank had accepted the higher value that the second appraiser valued my home at. I never did get the first report but was verbally told by the lender/loan officer that the first value was totally inaccurate at t$275,000. All I can say is that you can still get the value you want even with an second company handling the process for the appraisal on my home. I had advised many of my friends what happened to let them know that when a home is valued don’t challenge the last report, complain to the bank, state that AMC or service provider they use were very nasty, even if not which means I had to blame the first appraiser and insist that I have another appraisal done on my home but not from the same original provider. I was happy with my outcome and suggest other do the same. Did I forget to tell you that I am also a realtor, but in this case I was a homeowner?

  22. peak performance October 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

    This type of thing happens all the time on the internet, shame she’s getting done for it though!

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