All too often, real estate crime starts with a forged deed. The process is simple. A blank deed is filled out claiming that the property owner is transferring the property to someone else. Once the document is notarized and a fee is paid to the recorder of deeds, the document is part of the official record of ownership. Armed with a fraudulent deed, con artists can take out big mortgages and disappear.
But one county office has decided to fight back with a first-of-its-kind alert system from Xerox (NYSE: XRX).
Lisa Brown, the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds in Pontiac, Mich., has launched a new program that alerts property owners about potentially fraudulent activity such as forged deeds and deceitful liens.
Working with Xerox, the office added a new Property Records Notification (PRN) system to its document search engine, making it possible for users to receive an alert whenever a document pertaining to a particular property is recorded.
“Few property owners check their property records on a regular basis because most are unaware of this threat,” Brown said. “This free service, which is the first of its kind in the United States, makes it possible to receive up-to-date information about a property, making it much more difficult for con artists to go undetected.”
To access the free notification system, users in Oakland County simply sign up at http://ocmideeds.com/Alerts.
Brown said the service is part of her commitment to ensuring the official record of ownership is accessible – but also stays intact. The county launched Super Index, its document search engine, in 2014, and is the second county in the United States to do so. Powered by Google and Xerox, Super Index makes it simple for property owners and professionals to search millions of filed documents by name, address, property identification number and other types of information.
“Instances of deed fraud are on the rise, affecting more and more people in the United States,” said Louis Schiavone Jr., managing director for Xerox Local Government Solutions. “The PRN feature takes Super Index to the next level, alerting property owners about potential fraudulent activity, which can help owners stop a crime before it escalates.”
“Fraud schemes like deed fraud can be committed in an unbelievably small time frame, making it all the more important to catch and report it as quickly as possible. Each new advance in technology that allows us to identify fraud as it happens is a great step in preventing one more person from becoming a victim,” said James D. Ratley, CFE, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Xerox Public Sector Solutions helps government agencies transform their operations and business processes to better serve their constituents. Driving innovation through analytics, research and data, Xerox works with 1,700 clients at the federal, state, regional and local level in all 50 states and 34 countries around the world.
Xerox is helping change the way the world works. By applying our expertise in imaging, business process, analytics, automation and user-centric insights, we engineer the flow of work to provide greater productivity, efficiency and personalization. We conduct business in 180 countries, and our more than 140,000 employees create meaningful innovations and provide business process services, printing equipment, software and solutions that make a real difference for our clients – and their customers. On January 29, 2016, Xerox announced that it plans to separate into two independent, publicly-traded companies: a business process outsourcing company and a document technology company. Xerox expects to complete the separation by year-end 2016.