How to tell if criminals ‘stole’ your home

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – May 18, 2018 – In light of recent arrests in what the Broward County, Fla., Sheriff's Office is calling a fraudulent real estate ring, I want to take this opportunity to provide you with tips on how to protect yourself. With this type of fraud, authorities say homes are illegally taken without owners' consent.

The rise of technology has made it very easy to create fraudulent documents that can be easily recorded in public records, and these documents can make it appear that your property was sold or belongs to someone else. As with most dangers, awareness and diligence are the best ways to protect yourself.

Since the property appraiser keeps records online, the most straightforward way to make sure you are not a victim of this sort of fraud is to check regularly. However, with the press of modern life, it can be difficult to remember to do this.

This leads to what I consider the most important method: being aware of changes.

For example, if you start getting mail addressed to a different name at your address or stop getting mail that you normally might, it can be a sign that there is an issue. Any new deed recorded in the public records triggers a slew of mail advertisements, so they are a great warning sign that something is up.

Another example can be sudden unsolicited interest from prospective real estate agents, water softener or similar home service-related companies, or even prospective tenants showing up at your home. If anything sets off your "gut-check alarm," go online and check the property appraiser for changes – and then check it again a few weeks later to confirm.



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