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Fraudsters Faking Texas Property Sales with False Deeds

By Mike Wheatley | May 10, 2011

A frightening new real estate scam is growing in popularity right now, and it’s one that is going to force both buyers and owners of vacant properties to have to keep on their toes.

 

scam alert
Real estate scam alert. Courtesy of Raid Aide

 

 

Particularly if you own a whole bunch of properties, it would be worthwhile scouting them out every now and then just to make sure nothing fishy is going on. Otherwise, you might one day swing by your home only to come across a happy, well looked after home with smiling new owners, especially if your property happens to be in Harris County in Texas.

What’s worse is that this scam isn’t even a new phenomenon. For more than six years now, con artists and fraudsters have been operating an ingenious scam – forging property deeds for vacant properties in the county, and then taking the deeds to various local courthouses, before seizing the properties and listing them on the market.

 

real estate fraud
Real estate property fraudsters on the rise. Courtesy of John Gesa

 

 

Over the last six years, more than 70 houses – and these are just the ones we know about – have been affected by the real estate fraud.

The scam is a huge problem for authorities in the area right now, with dozens of victims on both sides of the fence.

Many property owners have been unable to recover ownership of their properties.

Authorities in Texas have labeled the outlandish real estate fraud as “Harris County’s largest ever deed scam”, and so far, only one person has been convicted in connection with the crimes, despite more than three years of investigations  by the Texas attorney general, and over $6 million in penalties being doled out.

 

Property deed scam
Property owners need to be vigilant of the scam, say industry experts. Courtesy Residential Settlements

 

 

“The majority of the homes remain in legal limbo,” states attorney Nick Abaza, who is acting for several of the scam’s victims.

“The problem is compounded by the fact that many of the properties were bought in cash, which means owners are highly unlikely to be able to recover what they have lost.”

 

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected]
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