Friday, November 20, 2009

Forging Deeds And Stealing Homes

A new scam has popped up that can make it easy for someone to steal your house! A scammer goes to your local city hall where they look up your property records. The scammer then purchases a property transfer form for $10, forges your signature and files the paperwork with the city or county recorder’s office.

In many states, the recorder’s office is not required to authenticate the identities of buyers or sellers. In states where they require IDs, the crooks are creating fake IDs.

The “new owner” of your home can sell it at a discount to a cash-paying buyer (who is also scammed) or they can use the collateral in your house to get a new loan while taking a lot of the cash value out of the house.

The scammers are targeting homes that are paid for because it’s easier to get a loan from a lender when there is no existing mortgage.

A reporter for the NY Daily News was actually able to buy the Empire State Building with doctored documents. (He immediately transferred it back, as he was just investigating the possibility of doing this.)

So…what can you do to protect yourself?

1. Occasionally check your records with your registrar’s office.

2. If you receive a new mortgage payment book, contact the company that sent it immediately.

3. Demand that your deed-recording office uses software that alerts homeowners whenever a transfer is made on their property.

4. If you discover your home was stolen, contact your local and state law enforcement officers.

(Reported AARP Bulletin)

No comments: