Property Appraiser Jerry Holland is taking steps to ward off a threat that has been getting South Florida residents swindled out of their homes.
As unlikely as that seems, it too often happens in South Florida, where there are a lot of absentee owners of second homes.
Thieves will file quit claim deeds with fraudulent notarizations and forged owners names and essentially take ownership of the property.
They may then sell or rent the house and get away with their loot before the legal owner realizes what has happened.
Home owners can recover their property but it may be expensive and time-consuming.
Holland said he could recall only one case of property fraud in Duval County, about 18 months ago. But that was enough for him to take steps to prevent more.
The court clerk’s office now provides alerts when there is a change in property ownership. To sign up, go to https://www2.duvalclerk.com/property-fraud-alert/.
Home owners in Duval will receive an alert within 48 hours if any change is noted.
Holland said Duval’s tax rolls show about one-third of the homes in Duval are investor-owned. Many of them may be vacant, which is an opportunity for thieves.