Bulletin: SA2012012

Date:
April 04, 2012
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
Special Alert - Vacant Land Scam; Salvador Anzo

Dear Associates:    

The Office of the Attorney General of the State of Nevada recently issued an Alert describing a vacant land scam.  The Alert names Salvador Anzo as the mastermind of the scheme, and the locations of the operations in Nevada and California.  However, this type of fraud can take place anywhere and can be perpetuated by anyone.

This scheme involves the purported sale of vacant land.  The perpetrators advertise the property in a local newspaper.  They impersonate the real, out-of-state owners and communicate solely by phone, fax, email, regular mail, etc.  They do not appear at closing.  They use fraudulent government identification, forged signatures and false notary stamps.  They instruct the settlement agent to wire funds to an account in the name of someone other than the seller/record owner.

Unimproved land appears to be most suitable to this type of scheme.  However, unoccupied structures, including abandoned homes, may also be amenable to this type of fraud.

Click here to view the Nevada Attorney General’s Alert.  

You may be able to impede or thwart this scheme by adopting some or all of the following:   

1. Exercise caution if you are unfamiliar with the seller and if the seller does not appear in person.

2. Consider as potential factors the absence of a real estate broker (who may be able to identify the seller) and/or if the property is unimproved or improved but unoccupied.

3. If the seller is unable to appear in your office, require the seller to go to a Stewart Title office or to an attorney in the seller’s locale to execute and acknowledge the closing documents.

4. Compare the seller’s government-issued identification to the land records and the tax records, and question any inconsistencies. Consider requiring additional forms of identification – for example, passport, credit cards, utility bills, etc. - to verify the seller’s identity and address.

5. Require that funds be wired to an account that is registered in the name of the seller/record owner. Consider requiring a copy of a recent bank statement or other evidence to confirm that the bank account actually belongs to the seller/record owner.

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THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2012004 Reducing Fraud and Forgeries in the Execution of Documents
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None