Title Insurance National Information Exchange, LLC
Stopping mortgage fraud and title insurance fraud through the cooperative use of internet technology.
The Title Insurance National Information Exchange, LLC, or TINIX, has been formed to assist the title insurance and mortgage lending industries in reducing fraud.
How do we do it? Through the cooperative use of technology.
Our concept is simple. Here are a few case studies to illustrate how TINIX works.
A DOUBLE TAKE ON THE DOUBLE SALE
Weeks can pass between the filing of a property record and its appearance in computerized registries used by title-search companies. Swindlers take advantage of this gap to engage in what is known as the “double sale.” They sell a property to one person and, before the sale appears in the recorder’s computerized records, sell the property to someone else. The following is an illustration of how a “double sale” is initiated and how TINIX can save the day.
Mr. Smith owns 1234 Main Street. On September 22 he enters into a contract with Ms. Jones to sell his property for $105,000. The closing is scheduled to take place on October 30. On September 24 Mr. Smith orders title through Acme Title Agency. Acme is a title agent for Surety Title Company.
Pursuant to the Surety Title handbook, Acme has established an account on the TINIX.org web site. Denise, the title agent who is processing the Smith to Jones title order at Acme, registers the title order with TINIX the same day she receives the title application. Denise logs on with her user name and password. She enters basic information regarding the title order such as the parcel ID number, common address, price, and the names of the sellers and purchasers and the lender.
When Denise hits “enter” the TINIX database goes to work. It sees there are no other title orders pending on the property. Denise receives an email confirming she has placed her order and that no other title orders are pending. The property registration Denise just entered with TINIX stays in the active file database for a minimum of six months. In the meantime, Denise obtains a title search and sends out the title commitment for the Jones purchase.
On October 1 Mr. Smith enters into a second contract to sell 1243 Main Street, this time with Mr. Rogers for $115,000. The closing on this transaction is scheduled to take place on October 31, the day after the Jones closing. This time, Mr. Smith orders title through Metropolis Title Agency, an agent for True Value Title Company.
As things stand now, Mr. Smith will walk out the door with $215,000, and either Ms. Jones or Mr. Rogers will end up not owning the property for which they paid–or borrowed–good money. Either Surety Title or True Value Title will have a six figure loss, and Acme and Metropolis will both suffer the inconvenience and expense of an investigation.
TINIX to the rescue!
Fortunately, Metropolis, pursuant to the True Value Title Handbook, also has established an account on the TINIX.org website. Steve, the title agent who is processing the Rogers title order at Metropolis, registers the title order with TINIX. Steve logs on with his user name and password and enters the parcel ID number, common address, price, and the names of the seller, purchaser, and lender.
Steve hits “enter” and the TINIX database goes to work. The database crosschecks the information Steve entered against all active title orders registered with TINIX. A match appears on three of the four fields entered by Steve. TINIX identifies the matches and immediately sends Steve an email notifying him that there is a pending title order on the property. Included in the email sent to Steve is the contact information for Denise at Acme Title.
At the same time, TINIX sends a similar email to Denise at Acme Title alerting her that a new title order has just been placed on 1234 Main Street and providing her with the contact information for Steve at Metropolis Title. Emails are also sent to Surety Title and True Value Title.
Steve and Denise respond to the TINIX notification emails by contacting each other and investigating what type of transaction each title agencies is processing. They learn Mr. Smith is selling the same property to two different buyers simultaneously. Their agencies and underwriters are pawns in a “double sale” scheme. Steve and Denise can notify law enforcement and cancel the closings. Surety Title or True Value Title save over $100,000.
WREAKING HAVOC WITH THE HELOC SCAM
As with the “double sale” the HELOC scam can mean thousands of dollars lost and relies upon the same weakness in the public recording system. Instead of selling the property to two different purchasers and pocketing the proceeds, a HELOC swindler will obtain a home equity line of credit on the property just prior to selling the property to a bona fide purchaser and borrow the entire line. Again, the gap period between the recording of the HELOC and the recording of the deed of sale allows this fraud to be successful.
Take the case of Mr. Smith, but instead of contracting to sell the property to a second buyer, he instead goes to First National Bank on October 1 and applies for a $50,000 home equity line of credit. If First National Bank approves the loan Mr. Smith will draw down the entire $50,000 line. Because he obtained the line after Acme Title’s search was completed, Acme knows nothing about the $50,000 encumbrance. Because the Jones deal has not even closed, First National Bank has no notice of the pending sale.
If the HELOC is recorded before the Jones closing, Ms. Jones will not get clear title and Surety Title will have to pay off the $50,000 HELOC. If the HELOC is not recorded until after the Jones deed, First National Bank will be out $50,000. Either way, Mr. Smith has walked off with $50,000, and either a title company or a lender is left owing $50,000.
TINIX to the rescue!
First National Bank also subscribes to TINIX. Their processor, Robert, logs onto TINIX.org and registers the HELOC application. As soon as he hits “enter” the TINIX computers go to work and discover that there is already a title order pending on this same property.
TINIX sends an email to Robert and to Denise at Acme Title warning them of the simultaneously pending transactions. Robert calls Denise, or Denise emails Robert and they compare notes. Upon communicating each other’s pending transactions they realize a fraud is afoot. They put a stop to the transaction and/or call the FBI. Mr. Smith’s plans are foiled, and a $50,000 loss is averted.
MAKING THE FRAUDULENT FLIP A FLOP
The fraudulent flip occurs when property is purchased, then falsely appraised at a higher value, and quickly resold. The public records are no match for the swift swindler. By the time the first sales price appears in the public records, the property has already been sold for twice its value. Sometimes, a single property can be flipped three or four times between associates with no money changing hands, each time raising the supposed appraised value of the property.
Using the Smith to Jones case study:
Mr. Smith’s buyer, Ms. Jones, is in on the fraud. She plans to flip the property to a false buyer named Mr. Walker. Second National Bank is loaning Mr. Walker $200,000 in reliance on a falsified appraisal. After the closing Ms. Jones walks off with $95,000 more than she paid earlier in the day, and Second National Bank is out $200,000.
TINIX to the rescue!
When title is ordered on the Jones sale at Consolidated Title, their processor, Jean, registers the order with TINIX. Jean inputs the parcel ID number, common address, price, and the names of the sellers and purchasers and the lender. The TINIX computers whirl, and emails go out to Jean, Robert, and Denise notifying them that multiple transactions are in progress on the property. Red flags wave.
Jean contacts Robert and Denise to investigate the multiple transactions. They discover that Ms. Jones is buying a property for $105,000 and then reselling it to Mr. Walker for $200,000 the same day. Jean immediately notifies Consolidated and Second National of the potential fraudulent appraisal and the transaction is cancelled, or, better yet, the title agents, title underwriters, and lenders decide to put an end to the criminal careers of Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Walker. They notify the FBI, and the would-be swindlers go to jail, saving their next set of victims from hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses and perhaps dissuading a few others from attempting similar frauds.
THE BENEFITS OF USING TINIX
By requiring title agents and lenders to register with TINIX everyone wins. For legitimate buyers, sellers, and borrowers, the small additional title charge gives them the peace of mind that an unknown mortgage will not appear on their title. For the title agencies, the headaches and liabilities associated with title claims are avoided. For the underwriters and lenders, large losses are avoided. A few minutes and a few dollars can save tens of thousand, hundreds of thousand, and, over time, millions of dollars in title claims and bad loans.
|© 2006, Title Insurance National Information Exchange, LLC, all rights reserved. |
TINIX is a trademark of the Title Insurance National Information Exchange, LLC. Patent pending.