Kenosha County Register of Deeds JoEllyn Storz is encouraging property owners to register for a free service aimed at preventing real estate and mortgage fraud.
The county’s Land Notification system provides property owners with email alerts any time a real estate document is recorded against their name, business or property.
While this system has been available for several years, a recent instance of apparent fraud in Kenosha County led Storz to make a renewed call for signups.
In that case, Storz said, the owners of a summer home in western Kenosha County became aware that their property was for sale after a neighbor shared a photograph of a real estate agent’s For Sale sign in the front yard.
Storz said the property owner then discovered an online listing of the property, complete with interior photos. This listing, which was fraudulent, was reported to the Twin Lakes Police Department and is currently under investigation, Storz said.
“This sort of crime is not uncommon in other parts of the country — particularly in larger cities — where a property that appears to be unoccupied is put on the market for sale by someone other than the actual owner,” Storz said. “Fortunately, the owner of the property in question in Kenosha County caught the scam before it got too far. Otherwise, it’s possible a sale could have been made and the scammer could have taken the money and disappeared.”
Those who register for the Land Notification system will receive an email if any sort of transfer, mortgage or other lien is recorded with the Register of Deeds Office.
People may sign up for the system by clicking the “Land Notifications” button on the Register of Deeds Office website, www.kenoshacounty.org/522/Register-of-Deeds.
Registrants can enter a property owner name or the parcel number for one or multiple properties. Storz noted that people with a common name such as “John Smith” may receive many alerts for unrelated property, so they would likely want to enter specific parcel numbers.
“It’s easy to sign up, it’s free. It will not prevent you from becoming a victim of fraud, but it will give you timely notifications so you can take immediate action if needed.” Storz said. “I encourage people to sign up.”