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Being vigilant about your property is important

August 23, 2019
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I have read several stories how an owner lost their home because someone made and recorded a fake deed. How would I ever know a deed like this was recorded, until the new owners are throwing me out?

-Bonnie S.

Dear Bonnie:

In a unpredictable world one thing is certain: bad people will try anything to make a quick dollar and try to minimize the risk of being caught. Fraudulent deeds have been a challenge to good owners like you, for a host of reasons. In Florida, for a deed to be recorded, it requires two witnesses and a notary stamp and signature. You can imagine how easy it is to create a stamp with a legitimate notary's information. Some fraudsters go as far to make a completely fake name and notary from another state or country. When a deed is presented to the clerk's office for recording, they are required to record it if it meets the simple requirements above. Depend-ing on the sophistication of the criminal and the circumstances that follow, an innocent buyer could end up purchasing your house, which is not for sale! To unwind this, significant costs and time may be incurred. Although a rare occurrence in Lee County, being vigilant about your property is important.

I was very interested to hear about a new program by the Lee County Clerk's office, called "Property Fraud Alert." This free service will alert a property owner when any document recorded purports to impact your property, including deeds, mortgages and other liens. E-mails are sent within 24 hours of the recording, giving you a very efficient "heads up" if your property may be subject to a fraud. This service can be accessed at www.leeclerk.org, by selecting "Property Fraud Alert." If you feel you are the victim of this or any other financial crime, the Lee County Sheriff's Office can be contacted at 239-477-1000. You may also need to contact an attorney to determine the steps needed to neutralize the fraud. I encourage everyone who owns real estate in Lee County to sign up for the free service, the next person it could alert could be you.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 18 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.

 
 
 

 

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