NEW! Fraud Prevention Pilot Program

​Chester County officials launch new intergovernmental fraud detection program


 

Chesco Recorder of Deeds and Register of Wills target property transfer scams


 
West Chester (February 26, 2020) - Fraudulent scams committed against seniors and disabled Pennsylvanians is an annual $1.2 billion criminal enterprise carried out by merciless predators preying on the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens. The scams come in many forms ranging from telemarketing cons to outright theft of home equity and personal property. The scammers include total strangers, family members, trusted care givers, legal guardians and more. 
 
One particularly egregious type of crime targeting incapacitated seniors and disabled home owners involves the fraudulent transfer of their property without the informed consent of the property owner, their legal guardian or the court system that is empowered to protect them. 
 
In Chester County, a new intergovernmental pilot program designed to protect incapacitated seniors and disabled residents from falling victim to the fraudulent transfer of their property is being launched by the Chester County Recorder of Deeds, the Chester County Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court. The county officials are coordinating efforts to allow their offices to track and compare county guardianship orders with proposed deeds to help identify if an incapacitated person’s property is transferred illegally.  Data obtained from this pilot program will help quantify elder abuse in Chester County and will be shared with all relevant agencies to help protect potential victims.
 
According to Chris Pielli, Chester County Recorder of Deeds, despite a previous fraud initiative,  his office continues to experience questionable real estate transactions that may be taking advantage of incapacitated property owners. “We know for a fact this type of fraud has been attempted in Chester County, but because systems were not in place to identify property owners who have legal guardianships, we do not know the scope and frequency of property transfer fraud here. The current fraud initiative in place does not adequately address this type of fraud.  Our pilot program is designed to compile data we can provide the courts and other officials empowered to address this problem,” Pielli said. 
 
Michele Vaughn, Chester County Register of Wills, pointed out that property transfer fraud in Philadelphia  reached epidemic levels moving the Philadelphia City Council to pass legislation authorizing the Philadelphia Records Department to require identification and proof that property transfer requests are legitimate. “We have to take the intergovernmental steps needed to safeguard to the property and rights of people who need our protection the most here in our county,” Vaughn said. 


Operation Fraud Guard



What is Fraud Guard? Fraud Guard is a simple way to help prevent property fraud. Register your name and when a document is recorded with your name, you will be notified via email.


As part of the Chester County Recorder of Deeds’ Anti-Fraud Initiative, the Recorder of Deeds Office is reviewing potential scenarios of real estate fraud and the statutes governing the ROD’s recording guidelines. Our office has observed that certain real estate transactions have been used to take advantage of elderly and/or disabled persons. In an effort to be proactive, the ROD will attempt to review certain documents deemed indicative of potential real estate fraud and will attempt to notify landholders of transactions against their property, as set forth in the policy.