What to Know
- An NBC10 investigation found that between 2013 and 2017, the city averaged 72 fraud reports per year. That number climbed to 136 in 2018.
- More than 110 have been stolen so far in 2019.
- The city Records Department, which tracks deed transfers, only ensures appropriate paperwork has been turned in and notarized.
111 victims so far this year, 132 victims last year.
That's how many people in Philadelphia had their houses or properties stolen from right under their feet.
"I was like, 'Wow, how can this happen?'" Curtis Simmons told NBC10 in February 2019.
Simmons was one of those homeowners whose deeds to their property was stolen without them even knowing.
For years, the city averaged 72 stolen deeds a year. The recent spike, and stories by NBC10 Investigators, prompted city officials to implement safeguards.
The most common form of the scam is perpetrated by fraudsters who steal house deeds, often by forging sales documents and notary stamps, then sell the houses to an unaware third party.
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By the time the actual homeowner becomes aware of what has happened, the deed could have swapped hands multiple times.
A new "Fraud Guard" website run by the City of Philadelphia now lets property owners register for an email alert if their name or property appears in a document filed with the City Recorder's Office.
For more information or to sign up for deed fraud protection, click on THIS LINK, which takes you to the City of Philadelphia's new website. You can also report suspicious activity or stolen deeds.