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Court orders halt in foreclosures

March 26, 2011 at 12:15 PM

CHICAGO, March 26 (UPI) -- A Cook County, Ill., court has temporarily halted at least 1,700 mortgage foreclosures because of altered documents, officials said.

The order was issued after Fisher and Shapiro LLC, one of three law firms hired by mortgage servicers to handle foreclosure actions, reported affidavits in the cases had been changed after they were signed, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The delay doesn't mean the homeowners won't lose their homes, but it could give some of them time to make other financial or living arrangements.

The changes included the addition of lawyers' fees, insurance and preservation costs, inspection fees and taxes. Foreclosure fraud has sparked investigations by all 50 state attorneys general.

"It's similar to robo-signing in that it's a high-volume pattern and practice of cutting corners, expediting the process through making false representations," said Daniel Lindsey, an attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. "The fallout is this order and some delay, and maybe (it will) help some people figure out some alternatives."

The Tribune said it was unable to get a comment from Fisher and Shapiro or from its attorneys.

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