As promised in a previous title tip, this week's Title Tip
of the Week discusses the "Red Flags of Forgery", so that you
don't fall into one of these simple
by John Howe, President
The following is a list of the "Red Flags of Forgery"
in real estate transactions. It's not a complete list of all the ways a
person could commit a forgery or a fraud in a transaction, but
hopefully these examples will make everyone more aware of the signs to
watch for so you or your clients don't get burned.
A release of lien is brought to the closing table -- It is always wise to
check with the lien holder to verify that the lien in fact has been paid and
that the release is valid.
There is a quit claim deed in the chain of title with no related transaction
-- It is wise to try to find out the reason for the transfer by quit claim
deed before you proceed. Is someone trying to fradulently take title to
the property and sell it out from under the real owner?
There is a release of mortgage in the chain of title without a related
transaction -- Same as above, but someone is trying to commit a fraud on the
prior lender? Of course sometimes people really do just payoff their
mortgages, but more commonly a mortgage is released when
the borrower refinances, or sells their home to purchase another.
Handwritten deeds that don't seem to make sense -- Most deeds these days are
not handwritten, either they are prepared by an attorney or the parties
may get a standard form deed and fill in the blanks. Look carefully at
the deed to see who prepared it, the preparers name must be on the document
for it to be recorded.
Written or oral direction to the title company to disburse the sellers funds
to someone other than the parties to the transaction -- This should open the
door to a lot of questions. Pay close attention to the answers and body
Capacity of seller or borrower may be questionable -- Do all of the parties
appear to be of sound mind, do they fully understand what is transpiring?
Carefully check identification, make a legible copy, enlarging it may
help -- Are the people who they say they are? Look at this
carefully. Make sure "New Girlfriend" isn't trying to
pass as "Wife" to help her boyfriend get rid of the
Variations in signature -- Compare current ones versus signatures on
prior documents in the chain of title. Does the seller's signature
match their signature on the mortgage they took out when they bought the
property? If a Power of Attorney is presented for the seller, does
that signature match the prior mortgage?
A recent series of transfers between family members -- This is a touchy
issue, but must be investigated. Who is possibly being defrauded
out of their interest in the property?
Be alert to the above and trust your experience and instincts. Listen
carefully and totally to the answers to your questions, and watch
eyes and body language.
questions can be directed to Benchmark Title at 618-239-3750. Please feel
free to call or email:
Serving you from three convenient locations:
1124 Hartman Lane
Shiloh, IL 62221
Escrow Fax: 618-239-3707
Title Fax: 618-239-3757
Fax Orders: 618-310-1589
President: John Howe
318 North Main St.
Columbia, IL 62236
4215 S. State Rte 159
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
Manager: Sara Sowell
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started out in title insurance 20 years ago as a proofreader. She
worked her way up through the ranks as a proofreader, typist, and title
examiner, and across the country, having worked in title
insurance in California before returning to the Metro East. Lisa
joined Benchmark in 2002 and today is a member of Benchmark Title
Company's Commercial Division where she examines the chains of title and
prepares commitments on commercial properties. Lisa lives in
Belleville, has 5 children, Sonya, 24, Carena, 22, Michael 19, Kelsi,
8, and McKensi, 3, and a grandbaby, Aubry,
1. Lisa can be reached at 618-239-3750 or by email at email@example.com.