By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
The movie "Catch Me If You Can" is a true story based on the life and crimes of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who was an international fugitive who committed his crimes by creating and cashing fake checks; among other things. He identified weaknesses in the system and capitalized on them by cashing bad checks, purportedly to the tune of $2.5 million. Creating and presenting fake checks continues to be a problem. In some cases fraudsters use legitimate — but altered — checks by “washing” them. Fidelity National Title in Albany, Oregon, was a target of this scheme. Read "MISSING money" for all the details.
On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, escrow assistant extraordinaire Petra Castillo, with Fidelity National Title's Houston, Texas operation, greeted a walk–in customer named Ron A. Muck. He was the buyer named on the purchase contract. He was there to open escrow on the purchase of a home for $200,000 and hand–deliver his earnest money deposit. He had a cashier's check made payable to the Company for $500. That was the first red flag. Read "RON a. muck" to find out about the other red flags.
Title insurance is an assurance against an actual financial loss — up to the value of the property or the title policy limits — resulting from defects of title not disclosed or exempted from coverage in the policy. A defect could appear in the chain of title or be an encumbrance on the property. There are two types of policies: An owner's and lender's. Read "WHAT is title insurance?" to find out more about our core product.