in this issue

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

Free and clear properties owned by absentee or deceased owners are prime targets for fraudsters, who see an opportunity to obtain title to the properties by fraudulent means. Then they strip the equity in the properties by obtaining cash–out loans pledging the property as collateral. These schemes leave the real property owner or their heirs, with one or more cloud on title and potential legal bills to reclaim property which was theirs all along. Unless the fraudster is stopped by a hero like Andy Vigil, Title Officer for Lawyer's Title. Read "HAVE no fear, captain title officer is here!" for details of his heroic tale.

Absentee owners are the target. Imposters acting as the owner of a property which is not the owner's primary residence are regularly trying to pledge the property as collateral for a cash–out loan or even sell these property rights out from under the owner. Fortunately keen title officers and settlement agents all over the country are detecting these scams and stopping the would–be thieves. Read "TAX bills are the key" to find out what Cape Coral Title Insurance Agency, Inc. out of Florida did to thwart this theft.

In this and previous issues we have discussed the risks associated with absentee property owners, but what about absentee buyers? What is their scam? Perhaps we will never truly identify the risks because we never seem to receive their closing funds and therefore never close. Maybe that is the risk? Are they hoping the settlement agent overlooks that detail and records the deed without the money? Nga Tran, Closer for Fidelity National Title in Seminole, Florida, shared her story. Read "ABSENTEE buyer" for the details.

From time to time a notary may receive a request to view or obtain a copy of an entry in their journal or other evidence the signer appeared in front of them. The notary should be sure to consult with their state's laws and codes for the proper way to respond. Read "REQUESTS for a journal entry" for this month's tip on notary know–how.

Be sure to answer the monthly notary question to make certain you understand the tips shared to increase your "NOTARY know–how"!

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