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|House Stealing !!!
Here’s how it generally works:
… The con artists start by picking
out a house to steal—say, YOURS.
… Next, they assume your
identity—getting a hold of your
name and personal information
(easy enough to do off the
Internet) and using that to create
fake IDs, social security cards, etc.
… Then, they go to an office
supply store and purchase forms
that transfer property.
… After forging your signature and
using the fake IDs, they file these
deeds with the proper authorities,
and lo and behold, your house is
There are some variations on this
… Con artists look for a vacant
house—say, a vacation home or
rental property—and do a little
research to find out who owns it.
Then, they steal the owner’s
identity, go through the same
process of transferring the deed,
put the empty house on the
market, and pocket the profits.
… Or, the fraudsters steal a house
a family is still living in…find a
buyer (someone, say, who is
satisfied with a few online photos)
…and sell the house without the
family even knowing. In fact, the
rightful owners continue right on
paying the mortgage for a house
they no longer own.
It can get even more complicated
than this, as learned in a recent
case out of Los Angeles. Last year,
a real estate business owner in
southeast Los Angeles pled guilty
to leading a scam that defrauded
more than 100 homeowners and
lenders out of some $12 million.
She promised to help struggling
homeowners pay their mortgages
by refinancing their loans. Instead,
she and her partners in crime used
stolen identities or “straw buyers”
(people who are paid for the
illegal use of their personal
information) to purchase these
homes. They then pocketed the
money they borrowed but never
made any mortgage payments. In
the process, the true owners lost
the title to their homes and the
banks were out the money they
had loaned to fake buyers.
So how can you prevent your
house from getting stolen? The
best you can do at this point is to
stay vigilant. A few suggestions:
If you receive a payment book or
information from a mortgage
company that’s not yours, whether
your name is on the envelope or
not, don’t just throw it away. Open
it, figure out what it says, and
follow up with the company that
From time to time, it’s also a good
idea to check all information
pertaining to your house through
your county’s deeds office. If you
see any paperwork you don’t
recognize or any signature that is
not yours, look into it.
If you want further information on
this topic you can visit the FBI's