Spike in Deed Fraud An Epidemic in Major Cities

Spike in Deed Fraud An Epidemic in Major Cities

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful New House.As advances in technology continue to develop and an increasing number of Realtors place properties and sales records online to enhance the transparency of real estate transactions, a spike in deed fraud has become an epidemic in some major cities. The rising threat has begun to target unsuspecting homeowners in cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit.

A recent report about Sybil Patrick, whose beautiful brownstone home was sold for $750,000 without her knowing, clearly portrays the prevalence of this issue. Four people were arrested for allegedly forging deeds for Mrs. Patrick’s property. They had allegedly targeted approximately 30 other residential properties in the Manhattan area.

Unfortunately, possible criminals have access to an abundance of information due to the deeds, mortgages and other important relevant documents that are commonly stored online and open to the public. Scam artists collect personal information like signatures, addresses, emails and phone numbers in order to access private information and fraudulently place properties on the market. They often sell well below market value and accept cash offers quickly to make their profit before homeowners ever suspect anything. In may cases, legitimate Real Estate lawyers and real estate brokers get involved without realizing that criminals are performing these acts.

Despite the growing number of fraudulent home listings and sales, many are still pushing for records that are online because these documents’ availability to the public make the details needed for real estate transactions easily accessible and speeds up sales. As an added precaution to help protect unsuspecting homeowners, New York’s Department of Finance is currently automatically notifying innocent homeowners anytime a deed is recorded on their property. Additionally, any suspicious activity is reported to local officials for investigation.

Noted as the fastest growing white collar crime in the country, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough has worked tirelessly to try to help do something about deed fraud. She has petitioned the legislature asking for more power for Recorders’ offices throughout the state to enable them to help stop any suspicious filings. Additionally, she has launched an impressive alert system at cookrecorder.com, and even sought the services of a national expert to inform employees about the white collar crime commonly referred to as “paper terrorism.” In order to launch the alert system, homeowners create a PIN and then are able to go online to review information about their property.

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