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Massachusetts sues banks over foreclosures

NEW YORK — Massachusetts sued five major banks Thursday over deceptive foreclosure practices such as the “robo-signing” of documents, potentially undermining negotiations between lenders and state prosecutors across the nation over the same issue.

The lawsuit named Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., and GMAC. It was filed in Massachusetts by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

The complaint claims the banks violated Massachusetts law with “unlawful and deceptive” conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation, robo-signing, and deceptive practices related to loan modifications.

The lawsuit comes as talks have been dragging on for more than a year between major banks and the attorneys general from all 50 states over fraudulent foreclosure practices that drove millions of Americans from their homes following the bursting of the housing bubble.

In October of 2010, major banks temporarily suspended foreclosures following revelations of widespread fraudulent foreclosure practices by banks. The talks have been designed to institute new guidelines for mortgage lending nationwide. It was anticipated to be the biggest overhaul of a single industry since the 1998 multistate tobacco settlement.