Identity Theft

Protect Your Money from Wire Fraud Schemes – ALTA Video

Buying and selling a home is an exciting time, but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers . The American Land Title Association wants homeowners and sellers to be aware that criminals are using wire fraud schemes to steal money meant for home purchases or the proceeds from the sale of the property. Watch this video for four tips to protect your money and advice for what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam.

See the ALTA VIDEO HERE

OCC Adds Information for Third Party Vendors

On June 7th, the OCC added bulletin 29 to third-party relationships to clarify the way lenders should interact with third party vendors, to us, that means how lenders deal title and closing providers.

    Get the entire OCC bulletin here

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As a part of the lengthy bulletin, it stated the lender is responsible for ongoing monitoring.

Ongoing Monitoring
Ongoing monitoring for the duration of the third-party relationship is an essential component of the bank’s risk management process. More comprehensive monitoring is necessary when the third-party relationship involves critical activities. Senior management should periodically assess existing third-party relationships to determine whether the nature of the activity performed now constitutes a critical activity.
After entering into a contract with a third party, bank management should dedicate sufficient staff with the necessary expertise, authority, and accountability to oversee and monitor the third party commensurate with the level of risk and complexity of the relationship. Regular on site visits may be useful to understand fully the third party’s operations and ongoing ability to meet contract requirements. Management should ensure that bank employees that directly manage third-party relationships monitor the third party’s activities and performance. A bank should pay particular attention to the quality and sustainability of the third party’s controls, and its ability to meet service-level agreements, performance metrics and other contractual terms, and to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
The OCC expects the bank’s ongoing monitoring of third-party relationships to cover the due diligence activities discussed earlier. Because both the level and types of risks may change over the lifetime of third-party relationships, a bank should ensure that its ongoing monitoring adapts accordingly. This monitoring may result in changes to the frequency and types of required reports from the third party, including service-level agreement performance reports, audit reports, and control testing results. In addition to ongoing review of third-party reports, some key areas of consideration for ongoing monitoring may include assessing changes to the third party’s
• business strategy (including acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures) and reputation (including litigation) that may pose conflicting interests and impact its ability to meet contractual obligations and service-level agreements.
• compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
• financial condition.
• insurance coverage.
• key personnel and ability to retain essential knowledge in support of the activities.
• ability to effectively manage risk by identifying and addressing issues before they are cited in audit reports.
• process for adjusting policies, procedures, and controls in response to changing threats and new vulnerabilities and material breaches or other serious incidents.
• information technology used or the management of information systems.
• ability to respond to and recover from service disruptions or degradations and meet business resilience expectations.
• reliance on, exposure to, or performance of subcontractors; location of subcontractors; and the ongoing monitoring and control testing of subcontractors.
• agreements with other entities that may pose a conflict of interest or introduce reputation, operational, or other risks to the bank.
• ability to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the bank’s information and systems.
• volume, nature, and trends of consumer complaints, in particular those that indicate compliance or risk management problems.
• ability to appropriately remediate customer complaints.
Bank employees who directly manage third-party relationships should escalate to senior management significant issues or concerns arising from ongoing monitoring, such as an increase in risk, material weaknesses and repeat audit findings, deterioration in financial condition, security breaches, data loss, service or system interruptions, or compliance lapses. Additionally, management should ensure that the bank’s controls to manage risks from third-party relationships are tested regularly, particularly where critical activities are involved. Based on the results of the ongoing monitoring and internal control testing, management should respond to issues when identified including escalating significant issues to the board.

California Man Gets Two Years in Title Theft Scheme

   

press release

11/20/2016

Daniel Deaibes was sentenced recently to 24 months for his role in a scheme to steal title to Southern California homes and then “sell” the properties to unsuspecting buyers – before the buyers realized who the true owners were.

From September 2012 through their arrest in November 2014, Deaibes and his co-conspirators, including co-defendants Mazen Alzoubi and Mohamed Daoud, fraudulently sold or attempted to sell at least 15 homes worth more than $3.6 million that actually never belonged to them. On at least 10 occasions, they were successful—earning illicit proceeds of nearly $2.2 million.

Deaibes pleaded guilty in March 2015 to participating in the fraud and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant. As part of this plea, Deaibes admitted that he used aliases to deceive escrow and title officers into believing that he was “John Moran,” and that he was the true owner of property that was being marketed for sale. In fact, “John Moran” did not exist, and Deaibes and his co-conspirators planned to fraudulently sell the properties, divert the proceeds to their own bank accounts, and then quickly disburse the money overseas. On at least three occasions, Deaibes, posing as “Moran” and presenting a fake driver’s license, appeared before notaries to sign title documents and property deeds.

To make it appear that they owned these properties, the co-conspirators generated forged deeds that made it appear the true property owner had sold his or her home to a sham real estate “investment” business the co-conspirators controlled. They forged the true owners’ signatures on the deeds, and used forged notary stamps to make them appear legitimate. In reality, though, the true owners were entirely unaware of the pretend sales. Once the fraudulent documents were recorded in the chain of title, Alzoubi (using aliases and stolen identities) listed the properties for sale, posing to buyers, escrow companies, and title officers as the new owner. In this way, the co-conspirators collected all the proceeds of the sale, and the true owners were left with nothing.

Alzoubi, the ringleader of the fraudulent scheme, assumed multiple fake identities to keep the scheme going. He also posed as real people, pretending on one occasion that he was an attorney for one of the true owners. (Unbeknownst to Alzoubi at the time, he was talking to an undercover federal agent.) As a result of his greater role in the scheme, Alzoubi was charged with, and in January 2016 pleaded guilty to, aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison in addition to his sentence for the fraud and money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for November 7, 2016, at 9:00 am, before Judge Bashant.

Mohamed Daoud also pleaded guilty, in July 2015, admitting that he helped Alzoubi launder the proceeds of the scheme. They used Daoud’s company, “Norway LLC,” to pretend to acquire title to some of the properties. Daoud received approximately $270,000 in proceeds. In December 2015, before he was sentenced, Daoud fled the country and is now a fugitive.

Most of the properties the co-conspirators “sold” were post-foreclosure properties owned by banks or institutions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are governmentsponsored enterprises with a mission to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the United States housing and mortgage markets. As part of this mission, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase residential mortgages in the secondary market, enabling lenders to replenish their funds to finance additional single family loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can become the property owners if they own the mortgage loan at the time a home is foreclosed.

“Schemes like this one undermine the public’s confidence in their most personal and important investment, their homes,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “I am committed to prosecuting people who continue to prey on the victims of the devastating mortgage meltdown, and sending those criminals to prison.”

“This scheme was designed to literally rip home ownership right out of the hands of innocent victims, and for those victims the costs were far greater than a title to a house,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge, Western Region. “This scheme is callous and the perpetrators deserve the punishment set out for them. FHFA-OIG remains committed to our relentless pursuit of individuals who try to profit from the aftermath of the housing crisis.” “

Fraud targeting a family’s home, the heart of a family’s financial investment, has a ripple effect through our nation’s economy,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “The FBI is committed to investigate and uncover schemes by those who defraud homeowners.”

In addition to his jail sentence, Deaibes was ordered to pay $1,819,591 in restitution to the victims of the fraud.

 

First American: Loan Application Defect and Fraud Risk Declines

Press Release 7/31/2016

First American Financial Corporation, a leading global provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions, today released theFirst American Loan Application Defect Index for June 2016, which estimates the frequency of defects, fraudulence and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications. The Defect Index reflects estimated mortgage loan defect rates over time, by geography and by loan type. It’s available as an interactive tool that can be tailored to showcase trends by category, including amortization type, lien position, loan purpose, property and transaction types, as well as state and market comparisons of mortgage loan defect levels.

“The Defect Index has fallen 5.3 percent over the last three months, and this trend shows no sign of abating. The index has been reaching new lows this year, continuing its long-term trend. Since its inception, the Defect Index has been consistently trending lower, apart from the increases in risk in 2013 and early 2015,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American.

“There are two factors driving the long-term decline in the Defect Index, the impact of improvements to the systems and production standards mitigating risk throughout the lending industry, and the continued strength of refinance application activity due to low mortgage rates. According to the MBA, refinance activity is up slightly on a year-over-year basis. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage was 3.57 percent, compared to 3.6 percent in May,” said Fleming. “Our research finds that refinance applications are inherently less risky than purchase applications, so defect and fraud risk declines as refinance applications become a larger share of the overall mix of loan applications.”

The Defect Index for refinance transactions declined 3.2 percent month-over-month, and is 15.5 percent lower than a year ago. The Defect Index for purchase transactions declined 1.2 percent month-over-month, and is down 11.1 percent compared to a year ago. Since defect risk for both purchase and refinance transactions peaked in late 2013, defect risk on refinance transactions continues to decline much more than defect risk for purchase transactions, declining 40.0 percent as compared to 23.7 percent for purchase transactions.

“We expect the declining loan application defect risk trend to continue into July, as the impacts of ‘Brexit’ and global uncertainty keep rates low, triggering an increase in the volume of lower risk refinance loan applications,” said Fleming.

June 2016 State Highlights

  • The five states with the highest year-over-year increase in defect frequency are: Maine (+14.0 percent), North Dakota (+13.6 percent), Missouri (+10.0 percent), Montana (+5.3 percent), and Alaska (+2.8 percent).
  • The five states with the highest year-over-year decrease in defect frequency are: Michigan (-31.4 percent), Florida (-21.8 percent), Delaware (-19.5 percent), Connecticut (-17.8 percent), and New York (-17.6 percent).

June 2016 Local Market Highlights

  • Among the largest 50 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), the only one market with year-over-year increase in defect frequency is: St. Louis (+9.9 percent).
  • Among the largest 50 CBSAs, the five markets with the highest year-over-yeardecrease in defect frequency are: Detroit (-35.9 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (-23.5 percent); Miami (-22.7 percent); Louisville/Jefferson, Ky. (-20.3 percent); and Orlando, Fla. (-20.2 percent).

Where in the Application is the Defect Risk?

“In the post-crisis housing finance landscape, the attention paid to the borrower’s ability-to-pay and emphasis on issuing loans that have a reasonable and sustainable mortgage payment has increased. In other words – income matters,” said Fleming. “Within the Loan Application Defect Risk Index, we also measure specific risk categories, including defect, misrepresentation and fraud risk associated with the reporting and documentation of income in a mortgage loan application.”

“If the income is being inaccurately measured or misrepresented intentionally in the loan application, the borrower’s true ability-to-pay and the sustainability of the mortgage are incorrectly measured. Interestingly, the trend in income-related defect risk offers some good news. The risk related to income is down 3 percent over the last three months and more than 10 percent in the last year,” said Fleming. “This beneficial decline in income-related defect and misrepresentation risk is a benefit of the technological and process investments made by the lending industry to meet compliance and regulatory requirements. The result is better measurement at the loan application level of the borrower’s ability-to-pay and more accurate identification of sustainable mortgages.

“Income-related misrepresentation and fraud risk is declining, as loan underwriting standards have become more disciplined and as the lending industry have made compliance and regulatory driven investments,” said Fleming. “We continue to improve our ability to accurately project a borrower’s ability-to-pay and the sustainability of a mortgage — a benefit to consumers and lenders alike.”

Next Release

The next release of the First American Loan Application Defect Index will be posted the week of August 22, 2016.

Methodology

The methodology statement for the First American Loan Application Defect Index is available athttp://www.firstam.com/economics/defect-index.

Disclaimer

Opinions, estimates, forecasts and other views contained in this page are those of First American’s Chief Economist, do not necessarily represent the views of First American or its management, should not be construed as indicating First American’s business prospects or expected results, and are subject to change without notice. Although the First American Economics team attempts to provide reliable, useful information, it does not guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. © 2016 by First American. Information from this page may be used with proper attribution.

About First American

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a leading provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions that traces its heritage back to 1889. First American also provides title plant management services; title and other real property records and images; valuation products and services; home warranty products; property and casualty insurance; and banking, trust and investment advisory services. With revenues of $5.2 billion in 2015, the company offers its products and services directly and through its agents throughout the United States and abroad. In 2016, First American was recognized by Fortune®magazine as one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. More information about the company can be found atwww.firstam.com.

Due Diligence Required of ALL Closing Staff

We all use auxiliary help when times are busy.  Signing agents and temporary help.  But beware; are you giving “non-employees” dangerous access to personal information that you are responsible for?

The DOJ has issued a press release regarding  a temporary employee who’s job was simply copying loan documents. In that capacity, she  stole personal  information belonging to over 250 would-be home buyers and used that information to obtain fraudulent credit cards.

Use due diligence in the hiring and overseeing of all of your help and assure they are properly licensed.   Even non-employees require oversight in the title and closing business.

Department of Justice Press Release – Temporary Help Steals Information to Get Fraudulent Credit Cards        Read article here at the Department of Justice Website

Insurance Conference Focuses on Cyber Security and Big Data

All Insurance companies are concerned with data privacy and security, especially title insurers and closers who deal with Privacy Laws and the Gramm Leach Bliley Act.  There should therefore be particular interest in the  second annual Global Insurance Symposium, May 26-28 in Des Moines, will include sessions on cyber security, big data and innovation.

Speakers include Thomas Sullivan, associate director of the Federal Reserve board of governors; Daud Vicary Abdullah, president and CEO of the Global University of Islamic Finance; and insurance commissioners Ken Kobylowski of New Jersey, John Huff of Missouri, Ted Nickel of Wisconsin and Kevin McCarty of Florida.

Sponsors include the Iowa Insurance Institute, the Federation of Iowa Insurers, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Iowa Insurance Division.

For information, click here or follow @ReachDSM on Twitter.

Woman Appears in Court Stealing Attorney’s Credentials

I have mentioned recently how easy and rampant identity theft is.   It is simple to obtain false identification, and virtually perfect ID’s are available from China on the internet. But here we have a woman in Utah who  set up a bogus law firm, using the identity of a real lawyer, using the Bar Association number of real lawyers and appearing in Court to represent unwitting clients This Deseret Newspaper article from Salt Lake City, Utah explains how even  the Courts have be fooled by fake attorneys.

“Attorneys in Utah have to give their name and bar number when they appear in court, but are not required to show a photo identification. There have been problems in the past with people falsely representing themselves as being a licensed attorney in Utah and taking people’s money, Stirling said. But she said the Utah State Bar had not heard of a case of someone actually going into a courtroom impersonating a real attorney and handling real court cases.”

Can you imagine being convicted of a crime, after being represented by a bogus attorney? The clients she represented were  without proper representation, and will have to be re-opened and re-tried.

Info On Home Closing

Home Closing 101: An Educational Initiative of the American Land Title Association