By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
Romance scams never seem to stop. Scammers often target elderly individuals due to their isolation or loss of a spouse. This can make them eager for companionship and new relationships. They are not even aware the new "love of their life" is nothing more than a scammer or a group of scammers looking for money and not love. Read "ROMANCE scams" to find out about one escrow officer's closing situation.
Handling the payoff of a lien secured by real property is one of the primary responsibilities of a settlement agent. The payoff also causes the most losses because there are so many things that can go wrong. If the payoff check is lost in transit, then the lender pays the property taxes from the impound account — resulting in a shortage. Or perhaps the borrower places a stop payment on the most recent payment not accounted for in the payoff statement. These are only two examples. To complicate these risks even more, fraudsters often try to intercept payoffs. The story titled "PRESTO chango" demonstrates just how they attack.
In 2002, real estate capital gains withholding in California was added to legislation on the last day of the legislative session in an attempt to balance the state budget. At that time, it was estimated to accelerate collection of $285 million in additional state revenue, since withholding is paid at closing to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). Find out more about withholding by reading "CALIFORNIA real estate withholding."