Cook County Cracks Down on Dirty Deeds

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    Cook County Commissioners pass an ordinance regulating con artists who record forged deeds in order to steal a home outright. Lisa Parker reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014)

    The Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance cracking down on con artists who record forged deeds in order to steal a home outright.

    "Clouding a title" is easy work for scammers. All they need is $40 to get phony paperwork officially recorded. It is already a felony in Illinois. But those who are bold enough to attempt this fraud in Cook County will now face steep fines.

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    "When you start talking about $5,000, $10,000,k $25,000 -- that's a lot of money and we're also going to throw you in jail too," says Cook County Recorder Karen Yarbrough.

    Yarbrough spearheaded the effort shortly after taking office.

    "It will be a deterrent to these lawbreakers, who are generally habitual offenders," she says.

    Yarbrough has a catchy comparison she uses to get a non-believers attention: In Illinois, it is easier to steal a home, than it is to steal a car.

    "It's fraud, you know. They're taking people's homes," Yarbrough said.

    NBC 5 Investigates first reported on this issue in fall. The ordinance went into effect immediately.

    There is an easy way to combat this crime. Sign up for the Recorder's Property Fraud Alert. You load your property PIN, and the office lets you know if any changes are made to your title.