County leaders launch anti-fraud campaign

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 9, 2016


MACOMB COUNTY — Two elected officials in Macomb County have joined forces to keep residents safe from fraud.

Macomb County Treasurer Derek Miller and Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh teamed up to launch a joint anti-fraud campaign meant to make Macomb County real estate transactions among the safest in the nation by reducing the risk of real estate fraud. 

The program, reportedly the first of its kind in the state, was launched in January and creates an automated notice that is mailed out to property owners anytime that a new deed, mortgage or other document is filed with the county register of deeds.

According to the FBI, Michigan is one of the top states where real estate fraud occurs.

“We are protecting the American Dream for those who choose to Make Macomb Your Home,” said Sabaugh. “I want to make Macomb County real estate transactions the safest in the nation, and protect private property rights, by reducing the risk of real estate fraud.”

A driving force behind Miller’s decision to join this campaign was a desire to reduce the amount of fraud committed against purchasers under land contracts and other rent-to-own transactions.

“We have observed an uptick in Wayne County of fraud committed against non-traditional purchasers,” he said. “We want to be proactive and make sure this doesn’t become a problem here in Macomb County. It is my duty to assist taxpayers to stay in their homes. That is why I launched the new ‘Keep Macomb Your Home’ campaign, and that is why I am joining our county clerk in this important anti-fraud campaign.”

Sending a notice to homeowners every time a lien or other document is recorded allows property owners to detect potential fraud quicker in Macomb County than anywhere else. Some county registers, including Macomb County’s, offer email alerts, but those alerts require a homeowner to sign up.

Now in Macomb County, a homeowner need not take any action beforehand in order to receive the new consumer protection notices via U.S. mail. Miller has joined this effort and will be providing up-to-date taxpayer addresses and other contact information to the Register of Deeds Office to ensure that these notices are received by the proper parties.

Under many of these contracts, the sellers are contractually required to maintain the taxes. However, while the purchaser is making all of their payments, the seller sometimes allows the home to go into tax foreclosure with no notice ever being received by the purchaser.

Under the new anti-fraud program, Miller and Sabaugh said notice of property tax liens and foreclosure deeds are included in the notice sent to both the registered taxpayer and the property address, allowing all parties to receive notice of potential fraud. They said this will allow notice of any foreclosure action to purchasers under land contracts.