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Fraud Alerts
National Agency Warns Homeowners of Online Deed Fraud

July-16-07

A national vacation home rental agency, is issuing a warning to homeowners regarding how easy it is for criminals to steal your home. The County Website and a simple form is all a criminal  needs.


With this rising scam, criminals search publicly accessible county websites, find out which homes are not owner occupied (including Florida vacation rental homes) and who owns them, fill out inexpensive deed forms with forged or copied signatures, and have themselves declared the new owners of the property. Once this somewhat simple process is complete, the new so-called owners of the property may either resell it to unsuspecting buyers or take out a new mortgage, eventually disappearing with the money. The actual property owner is left with a legal battle on his or her hands, once the fraud is brought to light.


Sadly, there is currently no foolproof way to prevent quit claim deed fraud, but there are measures that can be taken to avoid the problem. First, owners of Florida vacation rental homes may wish to establish a land trust that can hide the actual owners’ names from public record. This makes it more difficult for a criminal to forge a signature, and will likely make the property less appealing to a thief.

Second, all owners of Florida vacation rental homes should check the county websites on a weekly basis in order to catch an unauthorized change in ownership or any other inaccurate information as quickly as possible.

Finally, owners should talk to their county authorities to ensure that when a deed is filed, the county is following up to determine that the signature is authentic and that all parties are knowledgeable on the agreement. Some counties already have such measures in place, but not all.


Those looking to purchase Florida vacation rental homes should also be aware of deed scams and should be careful to review any and all documentation before making a final purchase to make sure the seller of the property does truly have the rights to make the sale.


“Deed fraud can be devastating to the owners of Florida vacation rental homes,” said Fraser Hannah, owner of http://www.traveling2florida.com/. “Don’t let someone steal your home out from under you – make sure you are aware of the problem and of the potential solutions in order to avoid a major headache down the road.”

If your property has been taken from you by deed fraud or other types of identity theft, you may have legal remedies. You should check with an attorney.

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