An escrow officer for Fidelity in Burlingame, California, received a phone call from a homeowner. The homeowner said the escrow officer's name was on her closing statement issued by Chicago Title Company. The homeowner said she initially called Chicago Title Company in San Francisco asking for the escrow officer by name. The receptionist at Chicago Title said the escrow officer did not work at that office, looked her up in the global address list and gave her the escrow officer's correct number at Fidelity National Title.
The homeowner was calling with questions about her refinance closing statement. Although the escrow officer was named on the statement, she has never worked at Chicago Title in San Francisco. The escrow officer asked the homeowner to scan and send her the closing statement to review, as the transaction did not sound familiar.
When she received the statement, the escrow officer called Chicago Title and confirmed the escrow number on the statement was one of theirs and that their order had closed on August 19, 2015 — but it was not for the subject property or this borrower.
The escrow officer had the title department run the property address to see if there were any open orders for any of our brands on the subject property and there were none. The escrow officer called the homeowner with more questions.
The homeowner said she had received the statement from her mortgage broker, John. She had recently had a baby, so John brought the loan closing documents to her to sign in August and then notarized them himself. The homeowner was not provided with any copies at the time of the signing, and had questions about when and where to make her first mortgage payment on the new loan.
The escrow officer was puzzled, so she sent the information to her manager who consulted with the National Escrow Administration team. They confirmed the statement was fake and could not have been created by any of our escrow production systems.
The escrow administrator attempted to call the mortgage brokerage listed on the statement. John answered the phone. The administrator asked for the owner of the mortgage brokerage. John was curious as to why the administrator was calling and asked many questions. The administrator said she was making a sales call from a title company. John said he would have the owner call her back. Obviously, he never did.
The escrow administrator suggested the homeowner contact local law enforcement right away. In the meantime, the title department searched the public record to make sure a new deed of trust had not been recorded for the loan. Luckily no liens had been recorded since 2007. The homeowner confirmed her existing mortgage had not been paid off and she would make her monthly payment on her old mortgage.
The next day the homeowner's dad called the escrow officer. He was very upset over the actions of the mortgage broker. He had more questions for the escrow officer, and expressed his appreciation for her help and apologized for taking up her valuable time. The father mentioned during the conversation that he was at the loan signing with his daughter and her brother.
They had a 6:30 p.m. appointment with John and the notary, but the notary never showed up. They rescheduled for two hours later. John came back without the notary, but told them since he was a notary he could witness the signing. When they asked for copies of the loan documents, they were told by John he would send them out later. They have been asking for these documents for several weeks but the closing statement was all that they were sent.
According to the father, John told him the brother received a letter at the signing stating the existing mortgage was now paid in full, which simply was not true. The homeowner and the father indicated they had contacted the police, as well as an attorney. They fear what John will do with all the private information he collected from the homeowner during the application and signing process. They want to make sure he does not steal the homeowner's identity or compromise her credit.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Although not a closing performed by the Company, the escrow officer and her management team did all they could to determine if the transaction was legitimate, determine if a new lien had been attached to subject property and find out if the existing mortgage had been paid as a result of a possible new loan. It was the right thing to do for the consumer and the Company.