In a full-fledged opinion by Justice Acosta, the First Department determined questions of fact existed about whether a mortgage loan (to Henry) was issued (by “Accredited”) with knowledge of fraud underlying the transaction. Accredited alleged it was an “encumbrancer for value.” After noting Accredited failed to submit evidence of its alleged “encumbrancer for value” status in admissible form (no official or certified title search was submitted), the First Department addressed evidence of Accredited’s knowledge of the underlying fraud:
Even assuming that defendants had established bona fide encumbrancer status, they would not be entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff has set forth evidence that defendants had notice of the underlying fraud. * * *
…Accredited approved a $500,000 loan to Henry—a “buyer” who had no intention of purchasing a home and appears to have been coerced into attending the closing—without any proof that he had an ability to repay it. Indeed, the record is devoid of evidence to suggest that Accredited examined Henry’s paystubs, tax returns, or credit history before approving his loan application. These suspicious aspects of the transaction present issues of fact pertaining to Accredited’s knowledge of the foreclosure rescue scam.
The faulty appraisal also raises an inference that Accredited had notice of the underlying fraud. Although Accredited reduced the loan amount after becoming aware of the overstated appraisal, the fact that the initial appraisal was overstated would lead a reasonably prudent lender to investigate further to determine whether the prospective borrower was involved in a transaction free of fraud. * * * Miller-Francis v Smith-Jackson, 2013 NY Slip Op 07821, 1st Dept 11-21-13