Synopses & Reviews
In the depths of the Great Recession, a car dealership worker, a cancer nurse, and an insurance fraud specialist helped uncover the largest consumer crime in American historya scandal that implicated dozens of major executives on Wall Street. They called it foreclosure fraud: millions of families were kicked out of their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies that had no legal right to foreclose.
Lisa Epstein, Michael Redman, and Lynn Szymoniak did not work in government or law enforcement. They had no history of anticorporate activism. Instead they were all foreclosure victims, and while struggling with their shame and isolation they committed a revolutionary act: closely reading their mortgage documents, discovering the deceit behind them, and building a movement to expose it.
Harnessing the power of the Internet, they revealed how the financial crisis and subsequent recession was fundamentally based upon a series of frauds. In a riveting work that recalls A Civil Action, Erin Brockovich, and Flash Boys, Fiscal Times columnist David Dayen recounts how these ordinary Floridians challenged the most powerful institutions in America armed only with the truthand for a brief moment they brought the corrupt financial industry to its knees.
"This is the story, one of its characters tells us, of an unlikely 'crime scene': the real estate courts of Florida, where professional fraudsters greased the skids to kick people out of their houses in order to prop up Wall Street’s profits, while judges looked the other way. And, it is the story of a prairie fire—began by ordinary Americans who brilliantly and courageously fought back when our leaders refused to do so. All in all, it is one of the best books about the law and American life that I ever have read." Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland and The Invisible Bridge
"Chain of Title is a sweeping work of investigative journalism that traces the arc of a criminally underreported story in America, the collapse of the rule of law in the home mortgage industry. By following three victims of illegal foreclosure practices, Dayen humanizes and brilliantly illuminates a vast scam unseen by the public because it’s been indecipherable to everyone but a few industrious housing lawyers—as he shows, even judges don’t understand it. The nightmare scavenger-hunt pursued by homeowners like Lisa Epstein leads to a horror-ending: behind the dream of home ownership lies a lawless jungle, owned and operated by banks, where there are no rules to protect families and their property." Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide
"An inspiring, well-rendered, deeply reported, and often infuriating account." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Meticulously researched, enthralling, and educational, this addition to the literature of the Great Recession calls out for its own big-screen adaptation." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
David Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon and a weekly columnist for the Fiscal Times, and he writes for publications including the New Republic, the American Prospect, The Guardian, Vice, The Intercept, and the the Huffington Post. He lives in Los Angeles. This is his first book.