Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Title Agency Owner Shows Off His 'Inner Sherlock Holmes' By Teaming Up w/ Cops To Bag Title Hijacker In Attempted Deed Snatching; Closing Table Proceedings Caught On Planted Surveillance Cameras; 6-Year Gap Between Mortgage Payoff & Lien Satisfaction Recording Date Raised Red Flags

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, WTVJ-TV Channel 6 reports:
  • Surveillance cameras were recording the action at Independence Title in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month. The cameras caught what on the surface looks like a typical closing on a Broward County property. But Fort Lauderdale Police believe the cameras caught a crime underway.

    It started as an average sale of a house. A prospective buyer found a property in Broward County he wanted to buy. The seller appeared on documents to be a trust run by Henry Ferguson, 43, of Fort Lauderdale.

    The closing got underway like most do with the necessary paperwork given to Independence Title and its owner, Kevin Tacher. One document showed the mortgage had been paid off and the other was the signed and notarized warranty deed. Tacher said he immediately saw red flags.

    Tacher said he first got suspicious when he saw a six-year gap between when the mortgage had been paid and when the document was recorded with the clerk's office.

    "The more research we did on this, the more we uncovered that just didn't make sense," Tacher said.

    He said he asked Ferguson to be able to speak to the original homeowner, Dwayne Fletcher, in order to sign the deed again, but was told he was hard to reach.

    Tacher said that's when he started to search for Fletcher himself. He said he found Fletcher where he currently lives in Port St. Lucie.

    "I was kind of really surprised. Yes, absolutely," Dwayne Fletcher said about his first phone call from Tacher.

    Tacher sent Fletcher one of the documents he had received from Ferguson. "His answer to us was, 'What are you talking about? I never signed that deed. So there's nothing for me to resign,'"

    Tacher said. Tacher then showed Fletcher the signature on the document. Fletcher told him the signature definitely wasn't his. "A million percent," Fletcher said.

    "The property was actually stolen from him without his knowledge," Tacher said about Fletcher's former home.

    Tacher contacted the FBI and Fort Lauderdale Police who filled in some of the gaps about Henry Ferguson. Ferguson had been released from prison in 2011 after serving ten years for armed robbery and other charges. He's on probation until 2031.

    Tacher then had a decision to make about how to move forward.

    "It took me a day or two to think about it and I finally decided I had to do what was right," Tacher said. "We're in business to prevent things like this from happening. We had to weigh the options about do we worry about this person coming in and the safety of our staff and our family? Or do we do the right thing? And the right thing was making sure they can get this person."

    While police detectives watched through surveillance cameras, Tacher invited Ferguson to the office to close on the deal.

    When Ferguson walked out of the title company, he may have expected a $75,000 profit on the sale of the home. Instead, police took him into custody.
For more, including the video of the local news report, see Title Company Owner Turns Detective to Uncover Fraud Case.

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