How To Steal The Empire State Building

from the 90-minutes-and-a-fake-stamp dept

Consumerist points us to a story about how The Daily News newspaper in New York was able to quickly forge some documents and get the deed to the Empire State Building handed over, no questions asked. Apparently, there's really no verification process at all. As the paper points out, while most folks probably would notice this with the ESB, for plenty of other buildings it's an effective scam for someone who wants to take out a bogus mortgage (and then disappear). You would think, in this day and age, there would be a somewhat more involved process and checks before simply handing over the deeds on any building, let alone a landmark like the Empire State Building.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 8:26am

    Heh, at least next time you buy the Brooklyn Bridge, you may very well be getting the real deed to it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 8:31am

    What we need is a Verification Department. That would entail a department head, department manager, an administrative assistant and several clerks to actually do the work. Shouldn't cost more than a few million $ for a city the size of NY.

    Oh sure, checks could be made much easier and cheaper than this; but then how would the city justify it's enormous/bloated/inefficient budget?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 8:45am

    I doubt there's any real risk here. I'm pretty sure most mortgage companies do a title search before handing over a check.

     

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    Baloney Joe, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    Um, the deed is like the title to your car...If you have it you own it, title searches would show you as the owner...

     

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    RevMike, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    Baloney Joe - "Um, the deed is like the title to your car...If you have it you own it, title searches would show you as the owner..."

    Um, not quite. A deed is evidence of ownership, but it is not indisputable evidence. Realistically, the true owner may have a bunch of extra hassles, but won't lose their property as a result of a fraudulent deed. It is possible that a someone who accepted the deed as security for a loan or someone who "purchased" the property from the fraudulent deed holder might get victimized, but it is unlikely in most cases.

     

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    Michial, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Deed/Title is nearly meaningless

    Just having the title to a car does not mean ownership of that car. Having the title to the car would make it possible for you to scam someone into buying a stolen car.

    I had exactly this situation happen. I had a Jeep in storage that I was restoring, someone got ahold of the title, then they stole a Jeep of the same year. Sold the stolen jeep with my title...

    When I went to license my Jeep I was told I couldn't because I wasn't the owner. $700 in attorney fees, and a couple of police reports later I had my Jeep's title back in my hand and in my name. The owner of the stolen jeep was arrested and then released once he proved what happened, and eventually the conman (a car lot none the less) went to jail. I eventually even received my $700 in legal fees back as restitution.

    No lender is going to lend money on a deed without doing a title search, and if your stupid enough to transfer the deed into your name before applying for a loan then you deserve the time in jail.

     

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    Rose M. Welch, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 2:59pm

    When I purchased my home, we paid a bit extra for an escrow attorney to go over the history of the property to look for any possible errors, such as a divorce with past owners or anything else that may have made the title disputable at all. And my house was purchased for $64,000.00 which is small beans compared to virtually everything else.

     

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  9.  
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    Joseph Young, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 5:02pm

    Have American criminals taken up this idea yet?

    In the UK, we’ve had similar problems with lax procedures: Land Registry axes online deeds. The problem with criminal tenants is an ongoing one. A tenant lives at the property’s address, so has the opportunity to intercept mail addressed to the landlord sent to that property.

     

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    ZCaprio, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    also used not to pay inheritance taxes

    its also an effective method to avoid inheritnace taxes passing property without reporting to IRS- this NYC office has been on the take for years and there is a circle of attorneys that are knowledgable of this loophole and assist clients in doing so

     

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  11.  
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    brooklyn real estate, May 20th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    That's great. I want a deed to the Empire State building.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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