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  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    Default Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: TN

    My husband's name was forged as a cosigner on a student loan several years ago, and we just found out about the forgery a couple months ago. We filled out all Fraud Affidavit forms, filed a police report (the police said they cannot do anything as the statute of limitations has passed), and sent in signatures from within the year, as SM requested. A few weeks later, SM called my husband saying the signature "looked like his", and that the primary borrower claims he signed the application. We decided to send the documents (his cancelled checks plus the loan application with the forged signature) to a professional forensic handwriting analyst. She sent us her professional opinion that his name had been forged, and that she would testify in court to this fact. We sent those documents to SM and when my husband called inquiring about the status of the loan now that we have shown proof of forgery, they said they would "get back to us." It has been a week and nothing yet.

    My questions:
    1) Now that forgery has been proven, SM has no choice but to release him from this loan, correct? They tried to argue with him (before we had the signatures analyzed) that it was a "he said, she said" case and that she (the perpetrator) said my husband had signed. Now we have shown proof, admissible in a court of law, that she lied and indeed has committed forgery.
    2) Is it possible that SM will force us to take this issue to civil court to have a judge decide the matter for us to be able to be released? It seems like overkill, seeing as he is just listed as a cosigner, and since taking this to court would just cost everyone money.

    Thank you for your help!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    Quote Quoting TMH
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    We decided to send the documents (his cancelled checks plus the loan application with the forged signature) to a professional forensic handwriting analyst. She sent us her professional opinion that his name had been forged, and that she would testify in court to this fact.
    That may be your understanding, but I expect that her testimony would in fact be quite different.

    First, I doubt that you had the original promissory note for her to examine - just a photocopy - right? Questioned document analysis of a photocopy is very limited. Also, if we're talking about a single signature, that's an extremely small sample size. If the signatures are similar - that is, the argument is that somebody attempted to copy your husband's signature onto the loan agreement - she can give her opinion that, based upon the signature on the photocopy does not appear to match the samples you provided. She may even express that in odds, but she's not going to express it as a certainty. If the signatures are dissimilar she can state the signature does not match that of your husband, but that's not the same thing as concluding that the signature was not written on the form by your husband. It's possible to have a signature look dissimilar from your regular signature for a number of reasons, including illness, injury or even as part of a plan to later deny signing.
    Quote Quoting TMH
    It has been a week and nothing yet.
    Banks often move at the speed of glaciers.
    Quote Quoting TMH
    Now that forgery has been proven, SM has no choice but to release him from this loan, correct?
    Nothing has been proved. If the lender accepts the analysis and joins your analyst in the conclusion that the signature is not your husband's, presumably they will drop their claim against him. If they find her analysis insufficient, presumably they will not.
    Quote Quoting TMH
    Is it possible that SM will force us to take this issue to civil court to have a judge decide the matter for us to be able to be released?
    Yes. Your husband can bring the borrower into any litigation.

    Are you indicating, at the end, that the borrower is current on the loans?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    Hi,

    Thanks for your response. Yes, we only had a photocopy, but apparently SM never even received an 'original' anyway, since the form was faxed in and they accepted that as their original copy.

    The borrower is not current on the loans, and this will be the third month of non-payment, which means from our understanding that it is about to be reported as a delinquent account to the credit reporting agencies. That is why I am feeling pressure to try to get this taken care of, because even if we go to court and eventually get removed from the loan, my husband's credit will be negatively affected until this is over.

    From your experience with these types of cases, is it likely that SM will release my husband from this loan without making us go to court based on the handwriting analysis, or is it more likely that they would try to force this into court? If that were to happen, how long do cases like this typically take to resolve, and will it be costly on our part?

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    A photocopy of a fax, probably a 72 DPI fax, is not a strong starting point for any type of handwriting analysis, let alone one relating to a single signature.

    You will have to wait and see if the lender finds your expert's report to be persuasive.

    Lawsuits of the type you're describing are not common, and even when a type of litigation is common we can only speak in broad ranges. Except to say that litigation is almost always costly. If you spend less than five figures in a contested lawsuit, that would be pretty amazing these days.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    My husband spoke with the loan company this morning, and they did not contest the validity of our expert's findings regarding the signature being forged. However, they still don't want to release him because they are arguing that they sent letters to his house when the loan began, and that they had a copy of his driver's license, and if they sent letters and got a copy of his driver's license faxed in with the application, how can he prove he didn't know about this loan? (which seems to me an irrelevant argument since they didn't contest our expert's report that the signature was forged, and they have on record the borrower saying that my husband signed the loan himself - not that he told this individual to sign on his behalf or anything like that).

    To give more details to the story, my husband lived with this person for several years, thus, this person had easy access to all of his personal belongings, and since they lived together, interception of the mail couldn't be any simpler, even though SM also can't "prove" they sent anything, and they certainly can't prove my husband ever received those documents.

    Can't we argue that this contract is void ab initio since they agree the signature is not his and no one is arguing he gave them permission to sign on his behalf?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    The forgery is not proven......a handwriting expert can only testify that there are anomalies between the signatures NOT that its definitely a forgery - No expert in the world can say that signature A and signature B were written by the same person....they can say that in their professional opinion (and they must qualify as an expert to the satisfaction of the court) that its a forgery but its not etched in stone........I'll bet that its not infrequent that people claim their signature was forged to avoid paying....they will conduct an investigation.......who is SM ??

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    Hi,

    I would like to post an update on this thread, for anyone who might be reading this and is in the same situation. After persistently calling to speak to a manager, someone higher up called my husband back and told him they would have to speak to the borrower to get that person's side of the story (again). The manager called my husband back the next day and told him that SM is releasing him from the loan due to findings of fraud based on his story, the evidence, and the borrower's story (which I'm guessing must've had enough holes to convince SM that my husband was telling the truth.) SM is going to send my husband release forms to sign, and then this horrible, hellish experience will finally be over.

    The reason I'm posting this is to try to help others who may be in the same situation - someone forged your name on a student loan, and the loan company doesn't want to release you (especially when they know the borrower is delinquent). Here's what we did that I think really made a difference in getting this resolved:

    1) We hired a handwriting analyst. This proved to be a priceless decision, because it gave us a very firm leg to stand on and backed up my husband's story, while discrediting the borrower's story.

    2) We were EXTREMELY persistent. Big private loan companies like SM know that if they ignore you often enough or tell you they won't release you for irrelevant issue a, b, or c, many people will finally give up trying to get released. Our initial experience was that our "case worker" told my husband, "well, the signature LOOKS like yours, so I'm going to go ahead and close your case." After multiple inquiries, it was revealed this case worker had NO training in handwriting analysis (we also found out that SM doesn't have ANY handwriting analysts on staff), so she wasn't qualified to make such a huge decision, nor was anyone else employed there. Apparently, many people give up at this point because SM tells them "there isn't enough evidence of fraud", and people don't realize that instead of giving up, they just need to push harder. That's when we hired the handwriting analyst.

    3) When your case worker continually gives you the run-around and you have evidence in your favor, such as a report stating your signature was indeed forged, ask to speak to a manager. They will put you off and put you off, tell you the manager's at lunch, in a meeting, out, etc. for days on end, but call and annoy your case worker until they would rather pass you off to a manager than have to deal with you anymore. Then, action will finally happen. Make sure you get the manager's direct line or extension so you won't have to battle with the regular case workers anymore to be able to speak to that manager.


    Sorry for the extremely long post, but I hope putting this information out there will be helpful to others who are true victims of student loan fraud.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    What also helps is filing a police report (which I believe you did) and sending a copy of that to the lender. Also filing suit against the suspect and sending multiple copies of your signature - especially from the timeframe that the loan was made. The problem is that many many people claim to have not signed loan documents, and in the long run most of these turn out to be legitimate signatures.

    if you are getting the run-around from a student loan company, it is also helpful to contact the consumer finance protection bureau and/or the department of education's ombudsman's unit at www.ombudman.ed.gov

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    Anybody claiming forgery to get out of a loan, either as borrower or cosigner, can anticipate that the lender is going to want a timely complaint made to the police.

    I suspect that, more than anything, persistence accompanied by what the bank ultimately concluded to be righteous indignation paid off in the situation described above. (Nobody familiar with handwriting analysis is going to find a report of the type described above to be compelling, but the fact that they paid for the report may have affected the bank's perceptions.) Absolutely, if a lower level worker can't or won't help, you can try to escalate the matter to somebody who can.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Husband's Name Forged As Cosigner on Sallie Mae Student Loan

    wow this case sounds just like what my sister is going through with her husband. the only exception is that the loan in question was e-signed. apparently, the borrower asked my brother-in-law to co-sign a loan for 3k, where the borrower produced a paper application so that he can fill it out and sign it. however, he received a letter from sallie mae which states another loan amount, 14k. he called SM and said that is not the amount he agreed to, they said sorry, there is nothing they can do, he is still responsible as a cosigner. fast forward 4 yrs later, my sis demands SM to see the promissory note, and low and behold they find out that an application was filled out and e-signed 6 months later from when he filled out the paper application. they were appalled because he was unaware of this online application. the application is inaccurate and incomplete: it has a false salary, no place of work listed, time at residence is inaccurate, the e-signature is spelled wrong, his email is false and here is the kicker: the borrower listed HIS SISTER as the cosigner's reference, whom my brother in law does not even know! they have tried over and over again to get sallie mae to open a fraud case and SM excuse is that it doesnt matter, he agreed to something! the account is nearing default and the borrower suddenly is nowhere to be found. they filed a complaint with the FTC, filed a police report, and a civil suit is pending. they have sought legal council and found someone to help, but after considering the costs, they chose to self-represent and ive been helping with compiling evidence Is this a situation where my brother in law can be released? how much proof should he show to prove that he did not fill out or e-sign the application? this has also greatly affected his credit.

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