Fraud Busters Receive Rewards!

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

Welcome to the fourth edition of Fraud Insights, your key source for the latest news pertaining to fraud and forgery in the real estate industry.

A Texas closer recently received a $500 reward from the Company for taking extra steps to validate a power of attorney presented at closing. Not once, but twice, Vanessa McCann from Alamo Title used the Internet to verify notary information. She made contact with the notaries on both occasions and found the notary information as well as the signatures of the persons granting powers were actually forged. Get the details surrounding the events in this edition of Fraud Insights.

Also, discover how a purchaser in a transaction was able to produce falsified identification using the Internet. Yes, for the low, low price of $29.95, a purchaser using one of our Oregon offices admittedly produced falsified identification at signing.

Did you know that we have a Loss Mitigation and Prevention Team for internal acts of misappropriation? Learn more in this edition of Fraud Insights about what team members do and how and when to contact them.

Do you have a story to share or feedback about Fraud Insights? Please e-mail your comments to

A special note to our agency managers and sales representatives … please feel free to redistribute this e-newsletter to your agents and their closers!

Caught in the Act!

An Alamo Title branch closer, Vanessa McCann, single-handedly caught sellers trying to use not one, but two forged powers of attorney! 

The story goes … the granddaughter had a power of attorney (POA) for both of her grandparents, but could not provide the original for recordation.  Vanessa explained that we would then require another be executed and brought to us to record prior to the closing of the transaction.

The granddaughter brought the new POA to Vanessa a few days later.  The notary seal looked odd to her so she tried calling the grandparents to verify that it was their signatures on the new power of attorney – she was not allowed to talk to either of them. 

Vanessa then called her operation’s manager, Taresa Hale, to discuss.  Taresa reviewed the documents and also felt the grandparents’ signatures were possible forgeries.  Vanessa had already looked up the notary information on the Internet.  There was no phone number listed for the notary, so she sent an overnight delivery to the address that was listed on the Internet.  The next day the notary whose name appeared on the POA called and said she did not notarize the document. She followed with a written statement of that fact.

Vanessa was informed by the granddaughter that she had yet another POA, and she had taken it straight to the courthouse and filed it.  Vanessa obtained a copy of the recorded POA.  A different notary appeared on the document.  Vanessa sent an overnight package to the name listed.  Again, when the notary called Vanessa she had not notarized the document.  In fact, the second notary works for the State of Texas and was very upset and will be following through with criminal charges.

After further discussion with our county manager, Vanessa sent a letter to all parties declining to close on this transaction. 

The Company is very proud of Vanessa for following through on her instincts, asking questions and keeping the Company from closing on a transaction that would surely have resulted in a future claim.

Special Note: Vanessa and her manager reported the details of the incidents to their state underwriters who immediately issued a special alert to keep our other offices, agents and sister companies from closing on this same transaction.


Fake IDs for $29.95

For the low, low price of $29.95 anyone can purchase fake identification over the Internet – but are they willing to admit it?

One of the Company’s offices in Oregon was processing a purchase transaction. The buyer was purchasing an investment property. When the buyer came into the office for his signing, he did not have sufficient identification. The buyer proceeded to explain to the closer that he was in the U.S. illegally. He did not have sufficient identification because he assumed a stolen identity while living in California and his driver’s license issued in the assumed name was revoked.

The closer explained to him that for her to notarize his closing documents, he would need a proper ID that met the state’s notary regulations. He left our offices and the closer thought that she would never see him again. She presumed the file would be cancelled. Much to her surprise, a few days later the borrower returned to her office. He presented her with an Oregon driver’s license. He told her that he ordered it online, it only cost him $29.95 and stated he used someone else’s credit card to purchase the fake ID.

The closer refused to notarize the transaction based on the knowledge she had gained from the purchaser and sent a notice to all parties that our Company would be resigning as escrow agent and title insurer.


Loss Mitigation/Fraud Hotline

Every employee is required to report suspected fraud or wrongdoing to the Loss Mitigation and Prevention Team.

The Loss Mitigation and Prevention Team (LMP Team) is a division of FNF’s Audit Services Department that investigates allegations of fraud, which we define as an act of misappropriation (theft) of operating or escrow/trust funds, money or property by an employee, agent or employee of an agent. Mortgage fraud situations should be forwarded directly to the Claims Department.

Use the Fraud Hotline to report acts of internal misconduct. The Company maintains a toll-free number, 800.441.6552, for its employees to report internal acts of fraud against the Company.

This toll-free number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all employees of the FNF family of companies. The call is anonymous, so the employee does not need to be concerned if the report is about suspicious activities by an associate or a supervisor. This hotline is operated by “The Network,” an independent company. When a call is placed, a specially trained interviewer documents the caller’s concern and relays the information to the Loss Mitigation and Prevention Team, who will conduct an inquiry/investigation into the matter.