By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
When Fraud Insights was launched in January 2006, we thought we would run out of content at some point. Here we are 200 issues later with more content than we can publish. As claims awareness and prevention are a top priority for the Company, FNTG's National Escrow Administrators are committed to providing an insightful and interesting newsletter that keeps our associates aware of fraud and forgery occurrences, that result in claims and loss of revenue to the Company.
In addition to raising awareness, it is our goal to provide associates of FNTG with tips and tools that will aid in the detection and prevention of fraud. Through the newsletter, we provide improved processes and procedures for all operations to embrace. In addition, we reward associates who are able to discover and thwart a potential loss. The rewards are provided if the heroic story is published in Fraud Insights. The rewards are $1,500 per story, and to-date the Company has awarded $302,500!
We highlight both bad practices and good practices in this edition. The first story occurs at a title company around the corner. The buyer's agent opened an order for the sale of a vacant lot in the amount of $80,000. The property was held in the name of a limited liability company (LLC). The buyer was represented by a real estate agent who presented the purchase and sale agreement to open the escrow, along with an earnest money deposit in the amount of $2,400. The property was owned free and clear, and a quick close was requested. However, the closing was delayed when it was difficult to track down the seller for signing. Read through the red flag warnings and answer the question, "WOULD you close and disburse?"
The second story highlights an example of good, solid practices. Title insurance companies have risk mitigation practices in place to assist in minimizing claims due to fraud and forgery. Title officers thoroughly examine the chain of title. They compare signatures contained in a chain of title (such as those found on a deed of trust or mortgage) to those found on the purchase agreement, to discover whether or not they match. They also ensure the legal documents were properly notarized and any transfers of the property were insured by a known and reputable title insurer. For details about what additional requirements must be met when a transfer of title occurs without the issuance of a title policy, read "UNINSURED deed."
Criminals are drawn to the easiest and best way to get paid. Cryptocurrencies are the most commonly requested form of payment. The cryptocurrency is decentralized virtual money, secured by cryptography. It is a popular method to receive payment for illegal activities because it is quick and easy — and privacy wallets make it difficult for law enforcement to follow the money trail. Anyone, anywhere in the world who has an internet connection can send or receive this type of currency. Read this month's latest ransomware article titled, "WHY cryptocurrency?" to discover additional information.