Publisher: Fidelity National Financial. Editor: Lisa A.Tyler | National Escrow Administrator
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), banks and gift card companies nationwide are warning consumers of a new scam where an imposter contacts a consumer requesting they immediately go buy gift cards. The contact is initiated through either…
Consumers are being called, emailed and texted to purchase gift cards. The contact is initiated by someone posing as an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Agent, technical support, family member or even as an employee’s boss… READ: Gift Card Scam
In certain markets, such as Southern California and Washington State, independent escrow agents handle real estate closings. They order the title insurance from a title insurance company that has a sub escrow division to process payments for… READ: ANATOMY of an Altered Demand Payoff
Fraud was presented to a title agent in a rather unusual way: It was a $500,000 cash sale, no loan involved. The standard Huntsville, Alabama Board residential contract listed a Mr. Squatter and his wife as buyers. Though the contract had been… READ: FALSE Pregnancy
The amount of liability of a policy of title insurance will depend upon the type of coverage. Typically, the owner’s title policy is based upon the purchase price or fair market value of the property being purchased… READ: HOW Much Does Title Insurance Cost?
Offices closing commercial transactions are not immune to the diverted wire transfer scam. In fact, in most cases they are more vulnerable since they are usually wire transferring funds in the millions of dollars. Read “MULTI-MILLION dollar loan payoff scam” to discover how a manager of a title agency recently prevented a diverted wire transfer scam in a commercial refinance transaction.
Escrow and title companies do not accept cash of any kind. There are far too many risks involved. It is unsafe for employees to accept cash at an office since they do not have a place, such as a theft proof safe, to store the cash. In addition, they do not have the means to secure the cash for delivery to the bank for deposit.
Banks are highly regulated and must report cash deposits to federal agencies. Cash deposits at a bank trigger reporting which would be done in the name of the remitter or settlement agent — not the customer. Read “CA$H money” for the last and biggest reason why settlement agents cannot accept cash at their offices.
In this month’s article on the value of title insurance, we provide a detailed description of the industry’s most commonly issued report called the Commitment. Discover what it is and what it is not in the article entitled “WHAT is a commitment for title insurance?”
For many years flipping real estate was deemed a negative term. Many thought flipping properties was illegal. The negative reputation was well earned, since most mortgage fraud cases involved someone who flipped real estate to a straw buyer who would obtain a new loan to purchase the property. The straw buyer would never make a payment leaving the lender the last one standing with an unpaid loan, which was never worth the loan amount. Clearly, that kind of flipping is illegal.
In recent years, television networks have helped highlight positive investors flipping real estate through television shows featuring real estate investors who find homes in need of rehabilitation. These investors fix the properties up and then sell or flip them to legitimate, qualified homebuyers. This all happens in a few months or less — hopefully for a profit.
Unfortunately, some people want to be real estate investors, but do not want to put in the real work. They look for short cuts and have less than honest intentions. Read “FLIP or fraud?” for details about how one man attempted to build his investment portfolio by flipping real estate.
“CALLER ID spoofing” is a story detailing one of the latest trends in the diverted wire transfer scam being perpetrated against home buyers. The fraudsters are using internet applications to blind the numbers they are using to call and text home buyers, instructing them to wire their down payment funds to an account other than the settlement agent’s or title company’s account.
Title Officers search the records and analyze the information discovered as a result of that search. They are highly skilled professionals who are experts in searching chains of title for risks. Read “PEOPLE behind a title policy” to discover how valuable title officers are to the industry.
Some thieves use a mask to conceal their identity; others lurk in the shadows. The internet offers intruders the ability to do both — virtually. Hackers lurk in hidden corners of the web tracking the progress of real estate transactions waiting for just the right time to strike. Who are their targets? Everyone is their target! The hackers’ end goal is to convince someone to wire transfer their funds to an alternate account.
The Company continues to receive reports describing attempts to divert proceeds, down payments and payoffs from real estate transactions. Fortunately, we continue to receive reports from our hardworking colleagues who have been successful in thwarting these attempts. All disbursements are vulnerable. Read “BREAKING and entering” for details of how Deborah Cash, from Ticor Title Company in Riverside, California, thwarted one such attempt.
The story entitled “DEAD or not” provides a detailed account of how an escrow officer discovered the seller in her transaction had died prior to closing. Everyone involved in the transaction was trying to cover it up, including the listing agent, selling agent and buyer’s new lender. The escrow officer used an internet search to discover an obituary posted in the name of the seller.
Generally speaking, public records give constructive notice of matters affecting title, according to the state statutes where the land is located. Read “TITLE records” for more details on where and how the search is performed.
Imagine coming into work Monday morning, firing up your computer, logging on and opening your email to find one that begins with, “Hi there, I came to know all of your dirty secrets.” This is precisely how the day began for one employee. Read “BLACKMAIL” to find out what the rest of the message said
A chain of title is the sequence of historical transfers of title to a property. It is a valuable tool to identify and document past owners of a property and serves as a property’s historical ownership timeline. The chain runs from the present owner back to the original owner of the property.
The chain of title proved to be helpful in uncovering a forgery in a recent cash-out loan transaction. The article entitled “NO takebacks” contains all the details.
In most states, both owner’s and lender’s title insurance offer different types of policies or coverage from standard coverage all the way up to extended coverage. Additionally, in many instances title insurance policies can be endorsed providing additional coverage, if the property qualifies.
Discover the different types of policies and the requirements that must be met to issue them in the article entitled “TYPES of title policies.”
The movie “Catch Me If You Can” is a true story based on the life and crimes of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who was an international fugitive who committed his crimes by creating and cashing fake checks; among other things. He identified weaknesses in the system and capitalized on them by cashing bad checks, purportedly to the tune of $2.5 million. Creating and presenting fake checks continues to be a problem. In some cases fraudsters use legitimate — but altered — checks by “washing” them. Fidelity National Title in Albany, Oregon, was a target of this scheme. Read “MISSING money” for all the details.
On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, escrow assistant extraordinaire Petra Castillo, with Fidelity National Title’s Houston, Texas operation, greeted a walk-in customer named Ron A. Muck. He was the buyer named on the purchase contract. He was there to open escrow on the purchase of a home for $200,000 and hand-deliver his earnest money deposit. He had a cashier’s check made payable to the Company for $500. That was the first red flag. Read “RON a. muck” to find out about the other red flags.
Title insurance is an assurance against an actual financial loss —up to the value of the property or the title policy limits — resulting from defects of title not disclosed or exempted from coverage in the policy. A defect could appear in the chain of title or be an encumbrance on the property. There are two types of policies: An owner’s and lender’s. Read “WHAT is title insurance?” to find out more about our core product.