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Mortgage & Deed Fraud Unit

In response to the serious problem of a rise in fraudulent property activity, Wayne County Register of Deeds Bernard J. Youngblood reached out to Prosecutor Kym Worthy and then Sheriff Warren Evans in 2005 to initiate a solution. As a result, the Wayne County Mortgage and Deed Fraud Unit was formed.Housed at 400 Monroe in Detroit, the Unit takes citizen complaints through its reporting "HOTLINE" at (313) 224-5869. The "HOTLINE" accepts calls 24/7 and voicemails concerning fraud are returned in a timely fashion. Citizens may also submit a complaint online.

Once a complaint is received by the Unit, a determination is made as to whether the complaint is of the nature that the Unit is designed and equipped to handle. If it is determined to fall within the Unit's parameters, an investigation is initiated and assigned to a detective. Following the investigation, prosecutors make a decision if criminal charges may be brought. These cases are typically factually intensive and require a great deal more time to investigate and prosecute than an ordinary stolen car or simple larceny case.

All members of the Wayne County Mortgage & Deed Fraud Unit have been trained in document research, specializing in document investigation. The initial investigation is done in the state-of-the-art land records system installed by the Register of Deeds, which became fully functional in February 2007.

Since 2005 the Unit has:
  • Inquires: 8,295
  • Cases Opened: 1,970
  • Search Warrants: 1,070
  • Arrest Warrants: 408
  • Convictions: 284
  • Stolen Homes Returned: 321
  • In 2015 alone, returned $531,000
Successes such as these have resulted in the Wayne County Mortgage & Deed Unit gaining international recognition from organizations, elected officials, and news media. Community officials from across the country have contacted the Wayne County Register of Deeds interested in replicating the innovative operation of the Wayne County Mortgage & Deed Unit.

What is Deed Fraud?
  • Deed fraud occurs when someone forges someone else's signature on a document transferring any interest in real estate. It also includes when someone transfers property they do not have a legal right or interest in. The forged document does not have to be recorded for forgery to occur
  • Forgery is a felony punishable by a maximum of 14 years in prison. If the forged document is recorded at the Register of Deeds and/or presented as true to anyone, the person recording or presenting the document also may be charged with the felonies of Uttering and Publishing and/or Recording a Fraudulent Conveyance - both punishable by a maximum of 14 years in prison
What is Mortgage Fraud?
  • Mortgage fraud occurs anytime someone obtains money from a mortgage company by misrepresenting ANY material fact [including using a fraudulent deed] in the process of applying for a mortgage. Mortgage fraud also occurs when there is an exchange of cash outside the settlement statement officially signed at the closing

The Deed Fraud Unit does not handle:

  • Emergencies

  • Landloard-Tenant Issues

  • Looking up who owns a property

  • Squatters

  • Probate or Estate concerns

  • Civil Court proceedings

  • Property Tax issues

  • Any kind of legal advice