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Deed fraud: Do you really own your property?

Dayton houses

Montgomery County initiates efforts to protect property owners from deed fraud.

A national crime is becoming more prevalent in Ohio. It is a type of fraud impacting private and commercial property owners.

"We cannot stand by and just allow people to come in and steal properties," Montgomery County Recorder Stacy Benson-Taylor said, referring to deed fraud — when someone illegally takes a property owner’s deed.

Benson-Taylor said in 2021, nearly two deed fraud cases were identified per month. Now she says her office is handling about three cases per week.

Most were connected to Quit Claim Deed Transfers. Other cases involved non-certified notaries.

"What I have found in the last six months is that a lot of these notaries are not real notaries," she explained. "I don't know if you know this, but you can get a notary stamp off of Amazon without any credentials. And so what you have to do is you have to be proactive and make sure that the notary that is notarizing your document is listed on the secretary of state's website."

Another red flag indicating someone has stolen your property deed is if you don’t get a tax bill.

Now Benson-Taylor’s office is promoting the Fraud Alert Notification System. It is a free service that alerts property owners of any suspicious activity regarding their home, commercial building or land.

"We're working closely with our prosecutor's office. We're working closely with the investigator to try and identify who these people are," Benson-Taylor said. "That is not an easy task. That is not an easy task because everybody doesn't always know who's selling them the property. And so we have to be diligent. We're also working to report these notaries sometimes."

Learn more about deed fraud in your area by going to your county recorder’s website.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937)-952-9924