January 12, 2015, Pontiac, MI - In an ongoing effort to fight real estate fraud, Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown, along with Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, asked the Oakland County Circuit Court to accept their amicus briefs in specific cases where property owners are being defrauded.
"There have been cases of fraudsters paying delinquent taxes on a property, and then essentially claiming the home as their own and stealing it from the rightful owner," Brown said. "These briefs will ensure that the Court has full knowledge of this scam and ensure that property owners' rights are protected."
Several quiet title actions pending in Oakland County Circuit Court deal with a real estate scam in which a person with no previous interest to a property, also known as a "stranger to the title," pays delinquent taxes and then places a lien, which often is the first step in a scheme to steal a home from the rightful owner. These fraudulent actions are forcing homeowners to spend money to defend their own property.
An opinion last year from the Michigan Attorney General's Office affirmed Clerk/ROD Brown's position that a person without a previous interest in a property cannot claim title to the property simply by paying back taxes. Consequently, the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office refuses to accept liens filed by individuals with no interest in a property, "strangers to the title," simply because they paid delinquent property taxes.
"My office has been working with the County Treasurer's Office to head off this fraud before it becomes a problem for the property owner, and the briefs are another step in that battle," Brown said. "I plan to continue working with the Treasurer, the courts and law enforcement to protect our residents from scams that aim to steal their property. I also hope to work with the Michigan Legislature to ensure the law adequately protects homeowners against real estate fraud."
In yet another effort to crack down on real estate fraud in Oakland County, Brown is working on a new fraud alert system that she anticipates will go live in the next few months.