Real Estate Fraud
Real estate fraud is a growing problem in the City of Philadelphia. There are many types of property fraud and it has come to the attention of the District Attorney's Office that the recording of forged of deeds is an increasing problem. The City of Philadelphia Records Department has a Document Notice Program that attempts to combat fraud by informing property owners of real estate transactions that are registered with the City. By notifying property owners, the City is giving owners opportunities to take corrective action after their property has been transferred fraudulently.
The Records Department will notify current property owners each time a deed or mortgage is recorded by mailing them a letter giving details of the transaction. This notification gives property owners the ability to verify transactions and provides notice of possible fraud involving their property. Under Pennsylvania law, the Records Department is mandated to record all deed and mortgage documents if they are filled out completely, even if the information later proves false. This means that fraudulent documents that are completed correctly are recorded and may go undetected until a legal transaction against the deed or mortgage is initiated.
The District Attorney's Office does not handle the investigation of all of these cases. If you feel that you are the victim of a forged deed you should:
Contact the Police
Contact a civil Attorney
- The Major Crimes Economic Crime Division of the Police Department at (215) 686-3396 or call 911 to file a report with your local police district.
Report it to the Economic and Cyber Crime Unit (ECCU) (215) 686-9902
- To restore title to your property, a Motion to Quiet Title will have to be filed in the Court of Common Pleas. Regardless of whether or not the perpetrator is prosecuted, this Motion has to be filed and cannot be filed by the District Attorney's Office.
- The Philadelphia Bar Association's "LRIS" (Lawyer Referral and Information Service (215) 238-6333) maintains a list of "for fee attorneys" who will work on cases such as this and they are real estate attorneys.
- Even though ECCU does not handle individual forged deed complaints, it is important that we obtain your information. This will ensure that if an investigation is being conducted, you can be contacted by the appropriate parties.
You may want to gather any and all paperwork that will be important in civil or criminal litigation. This paperwork includes but is not limited to: Deeds (previous and current), Wills, Letters of Administration, and Mortgage documentation.