Title Theft is on the RISE What is it, how do you protect yourself and wire fraud

 Title Fraud, Wire Fraud, Home theft, It's all happening and you could be next.

Learn what it is, how to protect yourself, and how to get help if it's happened to you.


Title Theft is on the RISE What is it, How do you protect yourself and wire fraud abitano.com http://blog.abitano.com/2023/08/title-theft-is-on-rise-what-is-it-how.html #fraud #title #house #crime #siliconvalley #RealEstate #wire

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 Today we have Suzanne Borg from Cornerstone Title here to talk to us about title fraud. Suzanne. Thank you, Vito. How are you doing? Good. Happy to be here. I'm so excited that you're here. This is great. Except for the fact that we're talking about a morose, bad subject, topic, right? Today we're talking about title fraud.


It's something that's happening. It is. Do you want to talk about it real quick? Sure. It is on the rise. It's something that we're seeing. We know people who have been involved in transactions, luckily caught before anything closed. But it's when the title to somebody's property fraudulently. Transfers ownership to somebody else without the true owner knowing is pretty scary.

Very scary. It's happening It is happening all across the United States and in Silicon Valley and in the Silicon Valley and as a matter of fact I just saw a news report which triggered me to ask you guys about this because it said Title fraud is on the rise and it's scary because there's a process that you have to go through and there are some steps you can take to protect yourself, right?


What typically happens in title fraud? So what we're seeing recently of late, this new trending kind of occurrence is it'll be either vacant land or a nonowner occupied, maybe vacant property house. And it's owned free and clear and you have a buyer. who wants to come in and close very quickly. So you can close quickly because there are really no hurdles. There's no mortgage payoff to order. There are no other things that can take time. So they come in with an all-cash buyer and it closes quickly. It's the one that I heard of recently. There was a fake ID involved. So they're saying that they're the owner of the record, right? They can, everybody can see it's public record who owns this property. So they have a fake ID saying I'm the seller of this property and I want to sell it. That is so scary. Yep. So scary. So it happens to, it can happen to the best of us, right? The big targets are paid-off vacant land or vacant property.


Correct. Vacant homes. Yeah, and is it typically older people I would gather? People who don't really take care of their property or could be letting maintenance. Yeah, or out-of-state owners that's another thing that would Alert you to the fact that something is going on if you're there and you're seeing activity or maybe seeing a buyer come by If you're in another state and you're not paying attention these things can happen. Yeah, so that's a good way to keep in touch with your neighbors say hey, can you do me a favor and keep an eye out? For my property, if people start trampling around or trying to move in because we have incidents of that happening as well so I guess a couple other things what else could you do to protect yourself from that or be aware of that?


So checking in on the ownership of your property from time to time and this is something Vito can help you with He has access to our property profile system, which connects to the county records. So he can pop in your property address and it will show any deeds that have been recorded. And ideally, it still shows you as the recorded owner. So reach out to Vito if you'd like him to check on your property for you. Yeah. And it literally takes me 15, or 20 seconds to send that out. As a matter of fact, once you do that, then I put you on a monthly drip where you can see the values of your house come through. And it's just a service that I provide. But it's once a year, you should be checking once every six months, maybe if you're concerned, at least once a year, give me a call or text me or email me and ask me for that property profile. So you can make sure that your name or your trust name is recorded correctly on it. So what happens if I get scammed? What's, one of the first things I should do? Call the police and I would reach out to a real estate attorney. Because title insurance while it protects you from everything from the time you close to the history doesn't necessarily help you in front of what's going on in future developments, but we do have a list of amazing attorneys and obviously, we'd get a police report for you and we have the district attorney on semi quick dial So we'll we're here to help you those types of processes just in case something does happen.


And I would say too, that's another reason to always make sure that you're working with a title company in any real estate transaction. So title companies are well versed in all of these schemes and scams that fraudsters come up with. So we're on the lookout for any potential red flags. And we work with notaries who are well-qualified as well and are checking these IDs. There are a lot of ways that we can further probe into buyers and sellers, identities, and things if there is something that feels not right. So always work with a title company and make sure that you're getting title insurance on any real estate transaction. And if you do have a seller who's trying to convince you not to use title insurance, there are a couple reasons why. That might be a red flag for you. Yep. And just be very careful if you're going to do that, or you can require that title insurance is offered. Is there anything else we have to talk about?


In the fraud vein, while we're talking about fraud, we could talk about wire fraud. There are so many different scams that are out there. It's crazy. Talk to me about wire fraud. I know that we talk about it all the time. Every time I do a transaction, I have to sign. Three or four different disclosures talking about wire fraud. What is that? So wire fraud is when we send out our wire instructions fraudsters will amend the numbers the account number the routing number to reflect Their own bank account or somebody else's bank account and then your money doesn't go to the title company It goes to some other country usually is not very easily traceable And most of the time you don't get it back. And from what I remember, this is the district attorney that was mentioning it. It goes to a straw account, which is somebody, let's say in Indiana, who is saying, Hey, I'll give you 500 if you let me use your account number. So they're involved, but they're not really involved. And then the minute the money drops into their account, it disappears and goes to Africa or India or wherever. And it's gone forever. Gone. Yeah. And there's not much you can do about it. And no kind of insurance protects you against that as a consumer. There is not. No. So we're not talking about tens of thousands. We're talking about sometimes hundreds of thousands. Yeah in this area Yeah, it could be that initial deposit when you first get into a contract Usually it's 3% of the purchase price or it could be what we call funds to close That's the remainder of your down payment, and in this area that is usually hundreds of thousands If not in the millions crazy, yeah, and it just and it does happen here.


Ways that you can protect yourself are just being aware of the email address that it's coming from, who it's coming from, verifying with the title company, usually, that's by phone, and don't use the phone number that's in the email. Ask your real estate agent, and ask your lender for the phone number of the title company.
You can Google your title company, use a third-party search engine, and get the phone number there. Pick up the phone, speak to the escrow officer, and verify the wire instructions that you've been emailed. And that's the safest way to make sure everything happens. That's it. Yep. And the other thing is you can always go down to the office in Los Gatos and go have a nice cup of coffee and then sit down with them and make sure that the accounts are correct.
It's not a requirement yet. A lot of reasons to come and say hi to these people. We love visitors, of course, but if you're out of the area, a lot of times things are done remotely, especially since COVID. We use a lot of mobile notaries. So if that's not an option coming into our office, there's still really a lot of safeguards to make sure that you're using correct wire instructions.
We recommend going old school and printing them out and then verifying them over the phone and you use a pen and pencil and write down the account and routing numbers that way we know that's not going to change. Yeah. And if something does change, let's say it's one simple number that could be a red flag. It could be. So that's just one way to look at it. But it could also be like a cornerstone title like the email comes in. Susanna Cornerstone title and it could be a corner with the R E inverted, something like a little mistake and you wouldn't necessarily catch it. It's always better to take a third step, slow down, and make sure that we're doing the right thing.


Slow down. I think that's a big one too. A lot of times, especially in our area, everybody is in a hurry. Everything needs to be done like 20 minutes ago. So just slow down, especially when it comes to your money and large amounts of money. Look at the email. If something doesn't seem quite right or something feels funny, definitely explore that. Ask your real estate agent, and ask the title company to make sure everything is being done. Correct. Thank you, Suzanne. It's always great to have you here. And I appreciate the time we took today to help educate some people. Me too. This is great. Thank you. All right. I'm Vito Scarnecchia with Abitano and this is. Suzanne Borg with Cornerstone Title. We'll see you out there.










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