By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
"DISBURSING funds to unrelated third parties – the plight continues" provides additional details to the scheme that continues to successfully syphon thousands of dollars from industry escrow trust accounts. The thieves are getting smarter with each attempt. The scam started with the sale of a boat. When settlement agents balked at closing the sale of a boat it morphed into an option to purchase real estate, and now it is a sale with an early release of funds upon inspection of the property. Review the Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement and escrow instructions being used in every fraudulent transaction, so you can arm yourself and your company against the crime.
During a purchase closing in Illinois, an ex–husband of the seller was listed in a mechanic's lien even though he never held title to the subject property as an owner. Read "MECHANIC'S lien fraud" to find out how an escrow officer discovered a number of fraudulently filed mechanic's liens that eventually led to the arrest of the would–be contractor.
The risk of theft of property and customers' non–public information became a near reality for one unlucky title company. Their courier company had a car stolen with keys to all of its branches inside. Read "STOLEN keys" to find out what happened next.
Although the real estate industry fought hard to have the word "optional" removed from the charge description reflected on the Loan Estimate as required by the CFPB's proposed rules, they were unsuccessful in convincing the bureau of the harm the word brought to the consumer and possibly the entire transaction. The industry pleadings actually ended up backfiring in that the CFPB's final published rules not only require the word "optional" after the owner's policy premium charge on the Loan Estimate, but on the Closing Disclosure as well. Read all about it in "OWNER'S title insurance – part I."
Be sure to answer the monthly CFPB question to ensure you understand the effects of the new rules in your market area!