By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
If you read no other stories in this edition, please read "BOAT for sale." We want to share the tell–tale signs of a fraud that has caused severe losses in our industry. Do not be the next victim. Arm yourself with the tools you need to detect the crime before it happens.
Who thought back–dating documents was a thing of the past? I did!! "THE pressure" is a story about a notary that admitted she gave into the pressure of a mortgage broker and back–dated a borrower's signature by two days. Read the story to find out how our astute, experienced escrow officer discovered the crime.
We have not written a story about fake identification cards being presented at a signing in a long while — thank goodness! But, do not let your guard down. There are still signers out there that believe our notaries do not have the tools or the skills to recognize a fake identification card when it is presented.
One such seller guessed wrong when he showed up at Fidelity's Salem, Ore. office. Read "LITTLE black box" to discover how the escrow officer recognized the identification as a fake and confirmed her suspicions with a black light.
If you deducted and paid 10% FIRPTA Withholding to the IRS at closing at the direction of the buyer and seller, and nothing bad happened…you got lucky! Nine out of ten withholding payments settlement agents remit to the IRS on behalf of our principals' end up a mess that cannot be easily rectified. It is true even when the settlement agent has followed the instructions provided by the principals and remitted the funds and forms, accurately and timely.
"FIRPTA withholding nightmare #7" describes one of those nine! The escrow officer THOUGHT she knew what she was doing, only to discover she did not — causing a loss exceeding $65,000.