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Real Estate Fraud and a Tool to Protect Yourself

Posted: August 3, 2023

By Andrew Madden, Law Clerk

  • Andrew Madden

The rise of fraud in land transactions is increasing, and as a result, the need to adapt is vital to protect your property.  Just ask property owner Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg, a Connecticut property owner living in New York who returned to his once vacant wooded land to find it clearcut with a new $1.5M house on it.  All signs point towards Dr. Kenigsberg being the victim of somebody impersonating him, leading to the unauthorized sale of his land and the development of a home on his property. 

Across the country, scammers are committing property fraud at higher rates. The rise of artificial intelligence is making it harder to determine what is real and what is fake. This is one reason why property fraud is on the rise.  Fortunately, there are measures Wisconsin property owners can take to help protect themselves and their property. 

Many counties in Wisconsin provide land notification services of potential property fraud.  These services are designed to inform property owners of documents that have been recorded on their property so landowners can review them and verify whether they are fraudulent.  Once you sign up for property fraud alert services, you will be notified any time there is recording activity associated with your name in that county. 

This link to the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association will take you to a page that lists out the counties in Wisconsin and to get signed up, you simply need to click on your county.  

Once you click on the name of the county where you want to receive notices, you will be taken to a page where you can sign up for notices.  The following counties do not currently offer property fraud alert services: Ashland, Bayfield, Clark, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iowa, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Menominee, Pepin, Richland, Sauk, Shawano, and Vilas.  However, some of these counties are working towards providing them in the future, so check back with the Register of Deeds in those counties from time to time. 

This tool is not limited to Wisconsin; if you own property in other states, check with that jurisdiction to see if they offer a similar service.

The notices do not stop the fraud from happening, but should help you to more timely address any issues that arise.

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