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Home Blog The Anatomy of Home Title Theft: The Impact of Deed Fraud on Victims

This 6-part series is written to educate stakeholders about the crime of home title theft or deed fraud.People who need to read these articles include elected officials, county clerks/recorders/assessors,detectives and prosecutors, corporate and private investigators, real estate lawyers, title and escrow professionals, and other real estate professionals including notaries public. My goal is to assist you in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of this crime.

On the one hand, deed fraud AKA home title theft is just another form of identity theft that we have to deal with in the modern world. On the other hand, no other form of identity is as financially devastating to the victim as this crime. As I will describe below, unwinding the damage caused by home title theft typically costs 1000s of dollars and can take years to accomplish, during which time the true owners cannot sell or refinance their properties…and the worst cases, they can’t even enter their properties because they have been evicted.

Emotional Impact

Fraud is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for its victims. Beyond the financial loss, the emotional impact of fraud can be overwhelming. Victims of fraud often experience a range of emotions, including shame, anger, fear, depression, and isolation.

Shame: One of the most common emotions experienced by victims of fraud is shame. Victims often feel embarrassed and ashamed that they fell for the fraud in the first place. They may blame themselves for not being more careful or for trusting the wrong person. They may feel that others will judge them harshly for their mistake, which can lead to feelings of isolation and a reluctance to seek help.

Anger: Victims of fraud may also experience feelings of anger. They may feel angry at the person who defrauded them, at themselves for falling for the scam, or at the world in general for being unfair. This anger can be all-consuming, leading to feelings of frustration, bitterness, and resentment.

Fear: Fraud can also leave victims feeling fearful and anxious. They may worry about their financial future, their personal safety, or their reputation. They may be afraid to trust others or to take risks, which can make it difficult for them to move on from the experience.

Depression: The emotional impact of fraud can also lead to feelings of depression. Victims may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and hopeless. They may struggle to find joy in the things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from friends and family. They may also struggle with sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and other physical symptoms.

Isolation: Finally, victims of fraud may experience feelings of isolation. They may feel like they are the
only ones who have ever been duped, which can lead to feelings of shame and a reluctance to seek help.
They may also feel like they have lost the trust of others or that they are no longer part of their

Removing the Fraudulent Deed from Title

In order to regain ownership of their home and protect their financial interests, victims of home title theft will likely need to file a quiet title lawsuit. A quiet title lawsuit is a legal action taken to establish ownership of a property and, in the case of home title theft, to cancel fraudulent deeds from the chain of ownership. This is a crucial step to clear the title and establish the victim as the rightful owner of the property.

The first step in filing a quiet title lawsuit is to consult with a real estate attorney. The attorney will review the victim’s case and determine whether they have a viable claim to the property. This type of lawsuit is complex and has many rules that need to be followed, so it is very unlikely that a nonlawyer could represent themselves successfully.

Once the lawsuit has been filed, the next step is to serve the lawsuit on all parties with an interest in the property. This includes the fraudster, any subsequent buyers, and any lienholders or mortgage holders. The victim’s attorney will handle this process, which involves delivering a copy of the lawsuit to each party in a manner that complies with legal requirements.

To prevail, the victim will need to provide evidence to support their claim of ownership. This may include documents such as a copy of the original deed, proof of payment for the property, and any other relevant documents that demonstrate their ownership of the property.

During the lawsuit, the defendants will have an opportunity to respond. If they fail to respond or cannot prove their claim to the property, the court will likely rule in favor of the victim and issue an order quieting title in their favor. This means that the fraudulent deed will be removed from the property’s ownership history, and the victim will be recognized as the rightful owner of the property.

It is important to note that a quiet title lawsuit can be a costly and time-consuming process. It may take six months to several years to resolve, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and it will likely cost at least $5000 and possibly 10s of 1000s of dollars. However, for victims of home title theft, it is the only way to remove the fraudulent deed from title, and until that is done, the victim cannot sell or refinance their property.

Take Steps to Repair Credit

Home title theft is a form of identity theft, and victims of this crime should take steps to protect their credit. If you believe you have become a victim of home title theft, here are steps you can take to protect and repair your credit:

1. Contact Law Enforcement: Finally, you should contact your local police department to report the identity theft. They may be able to help you identify the thief and recover any stolen funds or property.

Overall, it is important to act quickly if you suspect that you have become a victim of identity theft. By taking these steps, you can protect your credit and finances, and minimize the damage caused by the theft.

2. Contact the Credit Reporting Agencies: The first step is to contact the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and place a fraud alert on your credit report.

This will notify lenders and creditors that they should take extra precautions before issuing credit in your name.

3. Order Your Credit Reports: Next, you should order a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Review the reports carefully for any unauthorized accounts or charges.

4. File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): You should file a report with the FTC to report the identity theft. You can do this online at the FTC’s website, or by calling their toll-free hotline at 1-877-438-4338.

5. Contact Your Creditors: Contact all of your creditors and inform them of the identity theft. Ask them to close any accounts that were opened fraudulently and to issue new cards and account numbers.

6. Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit Report: A security freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report without your permission. You will need to contact each credit reporting agency to request a security freeze.

7. Consider Signing Up for Identity Theft Protection: Many companies offer identity theft protection services that can monitor your credit report for any suspicious activity and alert you to potential fraud.

8. Keep Detailed Records: Keep a detailed record of all your interactions with creditors, credit reporting agencies, and government agencies. This will be important if you need to dispute any charges or accounts that were opened fraudulently.


Home title theft is easily the most destructive form of identity because it is difficult, expensive and necessary to file a lawsuit to undue the damage. Once a fraudulent deed is attached to the title history of their home, the only option is a quiet title action, and they have to undertake this stressful and expensive process while dealing with their own heavy emotional burden that came from being victimized. Until they complete the quiet title lawsuit, they cannot sell or refinance their home, yet they must continue to pay their mortgage.

This is the fourth of six parts to the series entitled Anatomy of Home Title Theft in the Home Title Theft.

December 20, 2022 – Part One, Identifying the Target Property

January 19, 2022 – Part Two, Stealing Title with Fraudulent Documents

February 20, 2022 – Part Three, Profiting from the Crime of Deed Fraud

March 20, 2022 – Part Four, The Aftermath: The Impact of Deed Fraud on Victims

April 20, 2022 – Part Five, Investigating Property Title Theft

May 20, 2022 – Part Six, How to the Government and the Title Insurance Industry can Prevent Home Title Theft