What is home title fraud? How common is it?
Home title fraud, title theft, and deed fraud all mean the same. It is a crime that occurs when someone fraudulently replaces your name on the title to your property with their name. Home title fraud is gaining traction as information about people becomes more accessible online. It is difficult to know how widespread this crime is because authorities have not separated home title fraud into its own category.
What causes home title fraud?
Property transfers hands through a deed that names the grantee and is signed by the true owner/grantor under the presence of a notary. Before the grantor and notary sign the deed, the notary will ask the grantor to produce proper identification. Thus, to carry out title fraud for homes, the fraudster will first need to gather your personal information.
The internet is an easy source from where to pull your personal information. Phishing schemes is another source. You should always be on guard whenever someone requests your sensitive information, especial through phishing schemes.
Once armed with your personal information, these fraudsters assume your identity and create fake identification and social security cards. Taking on your identification the fraudster will then notarize the deed. Needless to say, the deed will have your forged signature.
Other fraudsters are more extreme. They forge the entire deed, including the notary page and stamp. After the deed is notarized, the fraudster will record the deed at the local county’s recorder’s office for a nominal fee. County recorder offices, such as the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office, normally do not inspect the documents submitted for recording for fraud.
The properties that are vulnerable to home title fraud are those that have accumulated substantial equity. Especially those properties that are vacant, owned as a vacation home, or held for investment purposes. For one, the fraudsters need the equity to bait their next layer of victims, i.e., those victims whom the fraudsters will “borrow” money from or “sell” the property to. Second, people who own these types of properties are usually inattentive to the day-to-day management activities and, thus, unlikely to notice any document that would tip them off to fraud. For this reason, the elderly is the most vulnerable demographic for this type of crime.
Fortunately, there are solutions for dealing with this type of real estate fraud. Often times the deeds are void because a fraudulent or forged deed is void even if there is a subsequent bonafide purchaser for value. At Schorr Law, have seen some of the most unimaginable examples of real estate title fraud – but there is always a solution.
For help with your home title fraud, or general real estate fraud matter, please contact our attorneys at Schorr Law today. You can call us, send us an email, or message us through our contact form. P: (310) 954-1877 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Contact Us Form