“The mission and of the United States Secret Service is to safeguard the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems to preserve the integrity of the economy, … “ And that statement is being put to use in another instance where a Title Company appears to have absconded with funds from the public. This time, Pennsylvania’s Priority Search, Inc. is being investigated by the Secret Service for allegedly not appropriately disbursing settlement funds. After Priority Search, Inc was recommended by a local real estate agent, the transactions moved forward, and at first seemed normal, but according to Pennsylvania’s Times Leader newspaper: (see full article)
Michael Bogdon borrowed more than $170,000 to buy a house in Rice Township, and the cash was given to Priority Search around the time of the Aug. 22 property closing.
Bogdon gutted and remodeled the home since then and was in a state of disbelief when the seller showed up at his doorstep about two weeks ago to inform him that Priority Search had never turned over the money.
Some of the funds were supposed to pay off the sellers’ old mortgage, and now the sellers – who are retirees – have outstanding mortgages on both their former and new houses, Bogdon said.
After the secret service investigation announcement was made public, the number of others stepped forward with similar missing funds problems having to do with Priority Search, Inc. This was clearly not an isolated incident. But misuse of closing funds happens not only in Pennsylvania, misuse of closing funds seems to have become a weekly occurrence across the country. Many title insurance and land title professionals are now concerned with this state of affairs. Specifically, a number of professionals are currently working on, or have recently completed, state legislation to licensed settlement agents. All seem to agree it would be a good idea to know who is handling the settlement funds, and what their background is. It is unfortunate that the industry hasn’t such problems, that kudos to those were working toward a solution. I believe licensing is in the best interest of the public, and of the title industry.