Scammer Tried to Sell Home He Didn't Own, Police Say

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Suburban Chicago police are hunting for a man they say tried to sell a home that wasn't his. The case is hardly an isolated one, with reports coming from hard-hit foreclosure states of similar acts. Empty or rented homes are the easiest targets, says the FBI.

Police in Campton Hills, Ill., have issued an arrest warrant for Daniel Kellogg, accusing him of changing the title of the house that he was renting to his name and listing it with a real estate agent. Kellogg also allegedly bounced some rent checks and sublet the home to other renters, pocketing the cash

Kellogg is scheduled to report to prison on Aug. 11 in connection with unrelated burglary charges, according to The Associated Press.

While it doesn't appear that Kellogg was ever the rightful owner of the property, the FBI says that doing what he's accused of doing has become a popular -- and easy to perpetrate -- scam. Legal forms to transfer ownership of a property are available at most office supply stores and all a thief needs to do is learn the property owner's name and address -- especially easy to do for a tenant renting the house, but the information is also readily available online.

The falsification of homeownership has been a big problem in Florida where many homes are vacant due to foreclosure.

The FBI says that it behooves homeowners to periodically check their deed records at the county courthouse to make sure nothing looks suspicious. Homebuyers are also urged to have a title search done to establish who owns a house that they are considering purchasing. They should also invest in title insurance to ensure that that search is thorough and valid. Title insurance pays for any disputes that arise after you buy the property. To transfer a title legally requires notarized documents that are later recorded and filed with the county. Most real estate agents routinely run a title search before accepting a listing.

The median sale price of a single-family home on Campton Hills is $430,000, according to Blockshopper.com -- suggesting that scams aren't limited to lower-income areas.

See homes for sale in Campton Hills, Ill., at AOL Real Estate.

Also see:
The Most-Expensive Bank-Owned Home in America

Tiny House Movement: Get in on the Ground Floor
Bank of America Donating Foreclosed Homes


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