In 2008 I wrote about the growing problem of deed fraud, and criminals using the public records recording system to take over ownership of property. Another serious instance of this crime was recently discovered in Texas. A 62-year-old Fort Worth man, Norris Lynn Fisher, was arrested Friday on a mail fraud charge that is part of a larger scheme tosell forged warranty deeds that netted more than $1 million from more than 100 Tarrant County properties.
Fisher identified properties by looking for vacant homes with unpaid back taxes or liens and acquired the property by forging affidavits of heirship from deceased property owners, the complaint said. Investigators said Fisher then filed a forged warranty deed transferring the property to a fictitious buyer. Both the signatures of the true owner and of the notary usually were forged, then filed with the Tarrant County clerk, according to the complaint. Fisher concealed his involvement with the scheme by transferring the property several times to non-existent buyers before selling it to one of his own businesses, the complaint said.
Property owners have a limited amount of time to discover that their real estate has been stolen, which can be a problem for absentee owners.