Friday, November 18, 2011

fraud in the chain

A title insurance company was forced to pay a man more than $90,000 after a woman fraudulently signed the man's name to papers, in effect deeding his property to another person without his knowledge or consent, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Ticor Title Insurance Company filed a lawsuit Nov. 7 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Yvette Reed, Diane Lee, Joseph Reed, Alfredo Vallejo Jr., RLI Corp., CNA Surety and All-American Escrow and Title Services.

Read more in Madison Record.

The owner of this property had an owner policy and so was able to have the title insurer defend the title and settle with a defrauded owner.  We have chats with folks all the time who are trying to understand the value of title insurance, especially after they have gone to the courthouse and looked at documents and decided that maybe there is no need for the insurance.

Just the other day I had a chat with a consumer getting ready to plunk down over one million dollars in cash for a home that had been constructed a few years ago.  His logic was that he would be the second owner and it was in a reputable plan so how risky could it be?

I explained that the biggest sources of claims against title insurers are those that can't be found in a competent search by a professional.  These are FRAUD, ERROR, and MALFEASANCE.

In the case outlined in the article, a notary enabled a fraud.  The fraud wasn't in the current transaction.  It was in a past transaction.  Unless a title examiner had reason to suspect the fraud, the deed on record would be considered legitimate.  Once the damaged person - the victim of fraud - stepped forward and made a claim of ownership, the insured property owner was able to file a claim and have his title insurer take over the matter.

If the home owner had neglected to purchase an owner policy, the owner would have been entirely alone facing the defense of ownership.  They would have had to hire an attorney and file suit against their seller - a long and costly affair.

Our cash plunking consumer made the right choice and decided to purchase the insurance.  ;)

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