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CBS Chicago’s Mike Puccinelli broke a story that we were proud to be a part of: though we are used to getting calls about suspected property fraud, never had we received a call about a crime in progress. In this situation, the scammer was changing the locks on an elderly woman’s home, and told her he now owned it, and that she had to leave.
Luckily the victim called our Fraud Unit, who was able to work with the police and FBI to keep her from being forced out of her home.
According to the story:
He was so convincing and the documents appeared to be authentic, so he wasn’t arrested until last month. Despite the rather sophisticated means of hijacking homes, police investigators say there’s really no hiding what the fraudsters are.
“Thieves, burglars and financial parasites,” says Sgt. John Lucki, financial crimes commanding officer for the Chicago Police Department.
Victims trying to force a fraudster out of a hijacked property can rack up expenses, he says.
“It can pretty much tie up your financial existence,” he says.
That’s why the Cook County Recorder’s office is stepping up its fraud-detection efforts by actively promoting its free property-fraud alert system. It notifies an owner when a document is recorded against their property.
If homeowner’s think they have become a victim, Yarbrough said:
“They can call our office. We are happy to help.”