Three homeowners in Los Angeles County are warning against deed fraud after they claim a man filed fraudulent deeds on their properties, claiming they all belonged to him.
One homeowner, Alois Phillips, said she discovered what happened when she was trying to sell her home and her real estate agent ran a title search to confirm she was the legal owner.
It’s no secret that we’ve seen a fast-moving pandemic housing market over the past couple of years with sellers hoping to get top dollar. Now normally when you sell your home, part of the process is doing a title search, which looks at public records to make sure you are the legal owner of your property. Well, I spoke with one homeowner who was just about to finalize the sale of her home when she said she discovered a stranger took possession and she had no clue.
Navigating the steep steps to her Los Angeles home, Alois Phillips says the past ten years here have been nothing but good memories.
"We’ve had you know, countless birthday parties, family gatherings out here, it’s just a nice place to live" says Alois Phillips.
It’s where Phillips who is an attorney raised two children, putting her hard-earned money into the property, but now her daughters are grown so she and her husband are looking for a place that’s easier to move around.
"Bringing groceries up and you know, anything else that has to come up from down in the car is challenging and I’m trying to plan for my later years."
So Phillips put up her home for sale and lined up a buyer in April, but when her real estate agent ran a title search to confirm she’s the legal owner, she said a stranger’s name appeared.
"I was the one the bought this house. I pay the taxes, I pay the mortgage and I have not transferred this property to anybody over the last ten years that I’ve had it and so she (real estate agent) said: 'Well he owns your house'," she said.
Phillips claims she’s a victim of real estate fraud. That a man named Deshaun Patrick filed a phony Grant Deed with LA County stating that he owned the property and gifted it to himself.
Phillips filed a police report and says she is not the only victim. In addition to her home, Patrick filed Grand Deeds on at least two other properties over the last year. According to LA County public property records, all three homeowners including Phillips filed civil lawsuits against Patrick to prove they are the true property owners.
Real Estate Attorney, Tiffany Krog represents one of the other homeowners. She said her client was trying to sell the house when discovered Patrick’s name on the deed.
"He went to his property to see what was going on and he discovered that there were multiple people living at the property and they had also turned on the utilities." said Tiffany Krog.
Krog says they were physically removed and a judge canceled the fraudulent grant deed, but that Patrick is appealing the decision.
Spectrum News1 reached out to Patrick and although he didn’t respond to an on-camera interview request, he stated over the phone that he was given all the properties as part of an inheritance for his estate and that they all belong to him. No criminal charges have been filed against Patrick, but the LA County District Attorney’s Office says its reviewing all three cases. Krog warns homeowners to look out for this type of fraud.
You should check your title from time to time because when they record these fraudulent deeds, you will not get a copy. They have the copies, the recorded copies, sent to their own address - Real Estate Attorney, Tiffany Krog
She also recommends installing security cameras and alarms, especially for those who own properties but don’t physically live there. Phillips states that she’s not leaving her home any time soon and is frustrated with the time-consuming and costly legal battle she faces to prove her home is - hers.
"It’s time off from work. It’s time away from family. It’s sleepless nights."
For a home, Phillips says that she’s paying for, even though on paper it belongs to someone else.
The lawyer I spoke with in the story says this type of fraud is becoming more common so she urges homeowners to make sure they check their property records periodically.
Update: Four days after the story aired on July 23, Deshaun Kim Patrick, the man accused of forging grant deeds on several Los Angeles homes, was arrested and charged by the LA County District Attorney’s Office on five felony counts.
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