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IN COOK, DU PAGE IL COUNTIES, Scam Artists Target Homeowners Transfering Property Interest!


The criminal act seems simple, yet so devious!

Find out who owns a particular property through public records.  Draw up, forge, and have notarized a phony Quit Claim Deed, which transfers, without warranty, any interest a person may have in a piece of real estate to a third party. 

Collude with an unethical mortgage broker and appraiser to write a mortgage on the property, for an inflated amount.  Draw an equity line or cash-out re-fi against your "new property acquisition."  Get the loan proceeds, then RUN!

Several months ago, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore discovered one of his cousins had been cheated out of her home in such a scheme.  Although the County Recorder's Office began mailing notification post cards to homeowners confirming property transfers via Quit Claim Deeds in 2007, some enterprising scam artists begain rading mailboxes for the cards before the were in the hands of the duped homeowners. 

Many had no idea of what was going on, or that they were in line for losing their house, and ruining their credit!

Moore is asking for additional staff and training to catch the scammers.  However, it is difficult to catch them all, with over 5,000 documents being recorded daily in Cook County - the county which includes the City of Chicago.

The Recorder of Deeds in neighboring Du Page County is hunting quit claim scammers as well.  Since September, of 2005, the Register of Deeds in Wayne County MI, which includes the City of Detroit, has fought a successful campaign to root out these mortgage fraud artists.

"We have a 100 percent conviction rate," said Bernard Youngblood, the Wayne County Register of Deeds. "We have convicted 40 individuals and returned about 100 properties to the rightful owners."  Here, a special task force of deputies actually seek out and sit in on suspected fraudulent property closings, and nab the bad guys before the closing gets funded.

Many big lenders are, frankly, embarrassed by the scam, and do not report many of the crimes that have occured.  In one situation, a fraudulent buyer transferred the deed of a home in upscale Grosse Point MI, and took out a cash-out mortgage for double its estimated $1 Million value.  He never made one payment, and the house soon went into foreclosure - and the true owner, still paying his own mortgage payments to his lender, never had a clue!

Here, in Chicago's Kenwood Neighborhood on the city's South Side, one house was transferred three times using a legitimate deed drawn up in 1996, but forged and recorded in 2006.  When the new owners purchased the abandoned house at a foreclosure auction earlier this year, their inspection yielded a human skeleton - the body of the previous owner's son - inside the home!

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds office does not train it's clerks to spot fraudulent deeds, but are now being taught how to spot back or post-dated documents, and to flag recordings paid with cash rather than check, as possible bad deeds.  However, the office lacks enforcement authority, so they can't nab scammers at the counter.

Please read the Chicago Tribune article discussing this growing concern.  It appeared in last Saturday's Chicago Tribune, in an article written by Susan Chandler.


Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:52 PM by Dean's Team


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