Experts say home title fraud is on the rise
(WXYZ) – The real estate market in Southeast Michigan is growing rapidly.
According to Zillow, home values in the Detroit metro area have increased nearly 148% over the past decade.
But homeowners should be careful, as home title fraud is on the rise in cities where the real estate market is booming.
It is another form of identity theft in which a scammer sells or refinances the victim’s property, and if the mortgage is not paid, the property goes into foreclosure.
Mathew Cox is a convicted home-title fraudster who served 13 years in federal prison for defrauding nearly $16 million.
“If I liked the house, I figured this was a decent house, I would go to public records and just transfer the title from them to whoever’s ID. And then open a bank account and take out loans for the property. It’s that simple,” said Mathew Cox, former con artist, true crime writer and podcaster.
The 52-year-old says home title cheating used to be a skill, now even a tech-savvy lad could pull off the cheat.
“The truth is, you could go downtown right now and find out any amount of information about any of your neighbors. You can submit documents that no one will call to review the documents,” said Mathew Cox, former con artist, true crime writer and podcaster.
Retired FBI agent Art Pfizenmayer says most criminals use the property’s equity to purchase loans.
“Sometimes they even borrow the same property two or three times for different types of loans,” said Art Pfizenmayer, a retired FBI agent.
“I rented someone’s house once, and I borrowed half a million dollars for the house. And the house was in his name. The house was only worth $190,000 so I took out 3 mortgages at once,” said Mathew Cox, former scammer, true crime author and podcaster.
Home tile fraud is one of the most underreported crimes. Because it’s difficult to track down the scammer or the money while the lender is after the house.
“The guy who stole the money is on a white sandy beach with drinks and umbrellas while you go to court with a lawyer for $600 an hour and most of the time it takes at least 2 years. said Art Pfizenmayer, retired FBI agent.
To make matters worse, Art says the only solution for now is to have a monitoring service like Home Title Lock.
“Property theft is not covered by your homeowner’s policy, HOA, banks nothing. People think, hey, I have title insurance that was taken out when you got the key to the front door,” said Art Pfizenmayer, a retired FBI agent.
Now, Mathew says people can try to monitor their title deeds themselves, but they’ll still need legal help if fraudulent activity is discovered. This is why it makes sense to have a monitoring service like www.hometitlelock.com as it has a legal framework.