Since deeds, once properly filled out and processed, do become legally-binding documents, serious consequences exist when that legality is tainted or manipulated. According to the American Bar Association’s Code of Professional Responsibility, all lawyers are forbade from falsifying any documents such as a deed. An altering of information after the original date of its composition would be an expressed violation of ethics.
Forged deeds represent the most common form of real estate fraud. This is done most frequently in situations where the original owner is deceased, yet able to construct documents. Most often, criminals will acquire and produce authentic-looking documents, forge the owner’s signature, and convey the title to themselves. Following this, the crook will then submit an application for a home equity loan, which essentially borrows money with the property as collateral. With this instant money graced upon them, they are free to move onto the next unsuspecting victim.
It is not until foreclosure papers are found that anyone would be the wiser in most cases. When it comes to deeds, another unethical practice is that of verbal falsification. Once you have reached the transaction stage it is vital that you see a physical deed in writing. In some instances, you may be duped into paying up front to and individual who isn’t even the true owner of the property. Scam artists will say anything to get you to pay them with little proof substantiating their claims.
So, what exactly can you do to combat real estate fraud attached to deeds or the lack thereof? There are a few steps you can take depending on the state in which you reside. For the most part, however, you can proceed in terms of the following: acquire a certified copy of your deed, notify an economic crimes unit, and then contact a lawyer immediately.
The quicker you move about these steps, the better your chances are for rectifying your name and record. There are many warning signs that may also help prevent you, as a homeowner or potential buyer, from falling prey to such fraudulent practices. These include a non-purchasing spouse, non-cash payments, inconsistent income or credit reports, as well as many others. In reference of those considering such fraudulent practices, they would be wise to note that its illegality is more than just words on a paper. Individuals guilty of such an action, are often imprisoned for a minimum of ten years.