Monday, November 2, 2009
Fraud Watch for Homeowners
Article by BOB TEDESCHI
Post by Shawn Chandok
MORTGAGE fraud continues to expand, in both the number of incidents and the methods that criminals use to strip equity from homeowners and lenders. Now a new online service offers free help to keep homeowners safe from an emerging form of fraud known as “house theft.”
Like other real estate Web sites, this new service, called ePropertyWatch.com, provides informal home appraisals and other information to help track neighborhood real estate activity. But unlike the others, it also monitors public documents associated with a home and promises to alert homeowners to possible criminal activity, like a forged deed that purports to transfer a home’s title in order to release an existing mortgage.
In this form of fraud, thieves take “ownership” of the home so they can “sell” it to nefarious associates who have taken out another loan on the property. The “seller” then splits the sale proceeds with the fraudulent buyer.
Industry analysts called ePropertyWatch’s service a useful tool for homeowners, though it is being offered only in major metropolitan areas right now.
EPropertyWatch is owned by First American CoreLogic, a company based in Santa Ana, Calif., which, among other things, collects real estate and mortgage data from municipalities and sells it to businesses.
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