in this issue

Amanda Clower, Escrow Operations Director for Alamo Title in Grapevine, Texas, received a contract on a small, dilapidated trailer that was basically being treated as vacant land, selling for only $15,000. She personally knew the buyer for more than eight years; she had a transaction coordinator that would help find buyers/sellers and then handle most of the communication.

Amanda spoke to the seller, utilizing the contact information (phone number and email address) provided on the contract. It seemed like a slam dunk. Title came back clear except for delinquent taxes, and those were being paid through closing. The transaction closed and funded. 

Fast forward to a month after closing when Amanda received a call from the seller saying she went to pay her delinquent taxes and the tax office told her the property was sold. The seller stated Amanda would be receiving a call from a Johnson County detective. 

Based on the call it seemed the seller realized she could sell her property for more than $15,000 and was having seller's remorse. NOPE. That was not the case! 

Amanda received a voicemail from a Johnson County detective. They played phone tag throughout the day. They finally connected around 7:00 p.m. and talked for FOUR HOURS! 

It turns out the seller was a fraudster who had presented fake identification, and the actual owner was in the hospital having surgery at the time of the closing. After peeling back layers and discussing the situation, Amanda and the detective were able to unfold two other transactions, currently open in the office, that might also be fraudulent. 

The detective set up a time to get a statement from the buyer (who closed and was insured), to clear any ties to the fraud. The meeting was successful, as the buyer was not involved in the fraud. 

During the meeting, they called Amanda on speaker phone to discuss the other two files currently in escrow. It was determined the other two transactions were also fraudulent. As a result, Amanda and her team resigned as escrow agent and refused to close and insure either transaction. 

According to the detective, real estate fraud was only the beginning; the woman perpetrating the fraud had committed identity theft, forgery and elder abuse. She even snapped inappropriate pictures of the true owner to use as blackmail against the property owner. 

The fraudulent grantee on two deeds took pictures that were intended to show a relationship with the prior owner. It was an attempt to claim they were in love, and the real owner wanted her to have the properties. The prior owner passed away in November 2021; the deeds were filed in January 2022. These inappropriate pictures were taken as his health was failing. 

During the next few weeks, a real estate agent listed the two properties. The listings were withdrawn after three days when the detective connected with the real estate agent and filled her in on the situation. 

That did not stop the fraudster, she negotiated a sale to a common investor in the area. Amanda connected the detective with the escrow officer and manager at the investor's office. 

This is where it gets good. The detective showed up MID-CLOSING and arrested her! She is being held on a $450,000 bond. Additional charges against her are forthcoming.

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