In 2017, title companies uncovered a large-scale national fraud scheme targeting distressed properties and borrowers. In the scheme, criminals would obtain information about a loan in default or already in foreclosure. The wrongdoers then create and record fraudulent instruments related to the loan in the land records. The fraudulent instruments may vest title to the perpetrators, which can allow them to sell or refinance the property.
When Baltimore County resident Bill Wiesand set out to help his daughter buy a home, he never imagined he’d risk losing thousands of dollars as the subject of a targeted cyber scam. A few weeks before the settlement, Wiesand, 65, received an email from the agent selling the home that said the title company required an immediate $10,000 deposit “to ensure a smooth and early closing.” She included wiring instructions and a routing number for the title company’s bank account.