Can Someone Sell My Home Without My Knowledge?

Sadly, and surprisingly, the answer is yes. Scams are becoming all too common and range from phishing and hacking to false billing and identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were nearly 2.8 million frauds reported in 2021, with consumers reportedly losing a record-breaking $5.8 billion. While you have likely received a fraudulent text message to deposit money into an account that you don’t even have, there is a more sizable scam that is gaining popularity: stealing homes.

Deed fraud has been happening for quite some time, but over the years, criminals have gotten better at duping the system. A real estate attorney who studies deed fraud cases said one study from a title company estimated that 90% of deed fraud is conducted by a family member or friend of the victim, while the remaining 10% are criminals who are unknown to the victim.

Typically, the scam is carried out by a person who files a fraudulent quit claim deed, which lacks a warranty of title, with falsely notarized paperwork. The deed is doctored up to appear as if the current owner is selling their property to the scammer, and then the scammer tries to resell it. All without the actual owner’s knowledge.

Cuyahoga county in Ohio is trying to put a stop to deed fraud. So far, they have implemented a free property alert system to give homeowners a head’s up whenever anything has been recorded which affects their property. In addition, the county is in the process of adding new protocols that would be required when filing a quit claim deed.

In general, it seems that most targeted properties are those in disrepair, vacant homes, properties with delinquent taxes and houses belonging to a deceased owner’s estate. Nevertheless, no one is exempt from falling victim to deed fraud. ProTitleUSA offers a Vesting Deed Search which provides the most recent deed filed for a property. We recommend this service to anyone who wants to ensure that they are indeed the rightful owner of a property.