New county scam alert keeps ‘an eye on your property when you can’t’

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 8:23 AM


            Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain demonstrates a new fraud alert system that will notify enrolled property owners if changes are made to certain property records. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
            Chris Stewart
Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain demonstrates a new fraud alert system that will notify enrolled property owners if changes are made to certain property records. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

Scammers could see the 253,000 parcels of real estate in Montgomery County as opportunities to defraud senior citizens and others from their property.

The Montgomery County Recorder’s Office is unveiling an alert system today that will send out an email notification if changes are made to real estate records that might indicate someone trying to fraudulently take control of another’s property.

This year alone, the county has identified six instances where a property deed was transfered out from under a rightful owner. Another six cases of deed or mortgage fraud showed up during 2017, and many more cases are likely undetected, said Brandon McClain, Montgomery County recorder.

Content Continues Below

“If you don’t have early notice, you’re stuck chasing a ghost,” McClain said. “How are you supposed to catch someone who has a 10-year start?”

MORE: County’s highest property values? Washington Twp. now tops Kettering

The Fraud Alert Notification System (FANS) will also allow family members living afar to keep tabs on the home of an aging loved one and out-of-state owners to monitor multiple properties.

“It’s going to have specific benefit for our elderly community and also for our investors,” McClain said. “This incentivizes investors to feel comfortable to spend money and invest in Montgomery County. This is oversight without intrusion, this is us keeping an eye on your property when you can’t.”

The FANS service is voluntary and free. Those enrolling can opt to receive an email, a letter or both whenever a deed, a mortgage or a lien is filed on parcels enrolled in the service.

MORE: 5 credit card skimmers found during weekend sweep in Montgomery County

McClain said deed fraud is typically carried out using a forged quitclaim deed signed with the help of an inept notary who doesn’t verify the identities of bogus signers, or one that is outright unscrupulous.

“Someone would then be perpetrating a fraud on the system by wrongfully assuming title of owner,” he said. “But they are not the true and rightful owner.”

Before becoming the county recorder in March, McClain saw similar cases firsthand as a public defender and Dayton Municipal Court magistrate. Many of those falling prey to the schemes are elderly and living on a fixed income.

“They don’t have resources, they don’t have the funds to hire an attorney to go to court, so that becomes quite a tall mountain to climb,” McClain said.

RELATED: Montgomery County Dems appoint county recorder

A defrauded property owner can expect to spend $2,500-$3,000 to get the mess untangled, McClain said.

“The most frightening thing about deed transfer fraud is that these terrible circumstances cannot be corrected absent a court order, which generally speaking is timely, costly and burdensome,” he said.

On top of a fraudulent deed transfer, perpetrators commonly put the home at further risk by using it as collateral for a loan or rent the property to someone else, McClain said.

Rightful owners often don’t know what’s hit them until hit with a mortgage foreclosure notice.

MORE: Montgomery County property values rebound from historic drop

Eight other Ohio counties — including Miami and Warren — offer a similar service through a third-party vendor, Property Fraud Alert. The service is based on a search of a property owner’s name, which could be shared by many, or missed due to variations with initials or name changes.

Montgomery County’s system is based on the specific parcel identification number, McClain said. The site was developed over the last several months in-house by Niko Infanto, a county programmer analyst, with contributions from Chris Boyd, Gail Hicks and Melissa Carito.

Fraud Alert Notification System

Voluntary enrollment in the free program begins today.

Online:

www.mcrecorder.org

In person:

Montgomery County Administration Building

Recorder’s Office, 5th Floor

451 W. Third St., Dayton

Trending - Most Read Stories

Springboro to freeze water, sewer rates

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 3:45 PM


            Terry Morris, Veolia Water’s project manager for the Springboro waste water treatment plant, talks with maintenance technician Rick Dalton inside the upgraded facility in 2011. FILE
Terry Morris, Veolia Water’s project manager for the Springboro waste water treatment plant, talks with maintenance technician Rick Dalton inside the upgraded facility in 2011. FILE

There could be an end coming to rising water and sewer rates in Springboro.

Effective Jan. 1, the city plans to freeze rates that had been seeing annual cost of living increases, City Councilman Jim Chmiel said.

“This will help get our rates back in line,” Mayor John Agenbroad said during Thursday’s Springboro City Council meeting.

Content Continues Below

Springboro has some of the region’s most expensive water and sewer rates, according to the 2018 Oakwood regional study.

MORE: Centerville names new police chief

Customers paid an average of $303.92; $160.56 for water, $143.36, according to the study using a base consumption of 22,500 gallons (or 3,000 cubic feet) over three months.

Chmiel said the cost-of-living increase assessed in recent years would be not be charged next year.

“Unless something unforeseen happens, the existing rates will remain in effect and will not go up annually with a cost-of-living increase,” Chmiel said.

The council’s finance committee met before the council meeting.

NOW: Tornado Watch issued for some; storms could bring tornadoes, high winds, hail

According to a staff report for the meeting, water fund collection revenues were up 10.82 percent over budget at the end of June. This increase is in water collections

made through utility bill payments.

Water fund expenditures were 13 percent under budget, due mainly to a decrease in use of professional services and supplies.

Overall, the unencumbered water fund balance was more than $7. 5 million. Funds unencumbered are committed to an unpaid expense.

In addition, the report indicated sewer collection revenues were up about 7 percent through June, while expenses were more than 26 percent under budget, leaving a unencumbered fund balance of more than $7.6 million.

TRENDING: Big Dayton schools changes: More than half of district leaders changed roles

“We’ve been reviewing the water fund balance,” Chmiel said in a phone interview Friday. “We’re just about done paying off the sewer plant.”

Chmiel said the council would continue to review every two years.

Agenbroad said the decision reflected the city’s strong financial condition.

“It just shows you how solvent our city is financially,” he said. “We will continue to pass that onto the community.”

Trending - Most Read Stories

Centerville names new police chief

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 3:38 PM


            Centerville has appointed Matt Brown to serve as the city’s police chief. Brown has been serving as interim chief since February.
            CONTRIBUTED
Centerville has appointed Matt Brown to serve as the city’s police chief. Brown has been serving as interim chief since February.(CONTRIBUTED)

Centerville has appointed Matt Brown to serve as the city’s police chief. Brown has been serving as interim chief since February.

MORE: Manhunt near Middlefork Reservoir

Former chief Bruce Robertson retired in February.

Content Continues Below

Wayne Davis, Centerville city manager, said the city had been looking to fill three key leadership positions for police chief, assistant city manager and economic development administrator.

He said the appointment of Brown, who has been a member of the Centerville Police Dept. since 1998, is a result of his leadership and outstanding work as an officer.

“Matt Brown is an excellent example of some who is loyal, hard-working and smart, and who epitomizes the selflessness required of a public servant in law enforcement,” Davis said in a statement. “He is a strong and humble leader who gives of himself within law enforcement circles and within the community and region. We are fortunate to have Matt on our team, and we look forward to working with him far into the future.”

Pay range for the police chief position is $99,568-$131,172, but Brown’s exact salary was not released during the announcement of his appointment.

MORE: Centerville looking to fill key leadership positions

Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Toledo and has served in the department as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant and lieutenant.

Human Resources Manager Jennifer Brumby said there was a large response to the job postings for the leadership positions.

“As expected, there was nationwide interest in these positions, and the applicant pool for each position is large,” she said.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Turner says Trump missed chance to send strong message to Putin

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 3:30 PM


            U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

Saying “Putin got a pass,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner says President Donald Trump failed to send a much-needed message to the world that Russian meddling in U.S. elections was unacceptable during Trump’s lengthy press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

Speaking on “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Turner called Trump’s failure to make a strong statement “very serious.”

“We’re talking about meddling in our democracy, penetration of the election apparatus in the various states, meddling in the various campaigns,” he said. “This is something that you would want your president to be very strong on. And clearly, the president in public was not.”

Content Continues Below

RELATED: Ohio lawmakers critical of Trump’s Russia comments; He says he misspoke

Turner’s words stand in stark contrast to those of his fellow Ohio Republicans, who have been more guarded in their criticism of Trump’s performance at the press conference. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for example, called Trump’s comments during the press conference “troubling.”

Turner said Trump failed to take advantage of an opportunity to send a message to the world that the U.S. would not tolerate Russia meddling in their elections.

“The world knows that Putin and Russia is meddling in other countries,” he said. “We need to have the American president stand strong when we’re asking our allies’ presidents and leaders, prime ministers to stand strong.”

EARLIER: Fire Mueller? Don’t do it, Ohio Republicans say

He said while he was “disappointed” in Trump’s comments, he’s still satisfied that U.S. policy against Russia is strong, with the U.S. still standing strong on sanctions against Russia, still supporting NATO allies and still arming the Ukrainians against Russian aggression.

“That has not changed regardless of statements made in Helsinki,” he said.

Still, Turner said, “the importance of the president’s role here goes directly to the heart of our national security and that of our allies,” he said. “And the president needs to stand strong.”

He refused to criticize or explain the silence of fellow Republicans who have not been as publicly critical, saying, “I can only tell you about why I believe it’s important to have this dialogue. If Russia sees any weakness, they fill that vacuum, and you get instability and an impact lessening our national security.”

Turner, a Dayton Republican who sits on both the House Intelligence and the House Armed Services Committee, also took issue with Trump’s criticism during a Fox News interview of the U.S. having to defend countries such as Montenegro if attacked. Montenegro joined NATO last year.

Turner, a former head of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said part of the purpose of NATO is mutual defense: It’s written into Article 5 of the alliance. And Montenegro, he said, has come to the defense of the U.S. – in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. He said the alliance “enhances our national security.” He said having them in NATO “takes them out of the sphere of influence” of countries such as Russia, and helps to ensure that if a conflict arises, the tiny nation will side with the U.S. over U.S. rivals.

“We’re glad Montenegro is in NATO and yes, they’re defending us, we’ll defend them,” he said.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 10:50 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 11:44 AM


            Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation. Getty Image
Local site could be selected for federal driverless car designation. Getty Image

When the Obama administration designated its first 10 pilot sites for testing of automated vehicle technologies in January 2017, a 4,500-acre facility in East Liberty was not on the list.

This week, five Republican lawmakers and a handful of state senators including Senate President Larry Obhof, R–Ashtabula, held a press conference on Capitol Hill with a united message: Rethink that decision.

“This is a premiere facility,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs, R–Lakeville, who like other Republicans, argued that many of the 10 picked in January “don’t even have a facility, don’t even have assets. It’s a wish list.”

Content Continues Below

RELATED: 5 things experts say about self-driving cars

The East Liberty–based Transportation Research Center, the largest independent automotive testing ground in the U.S., argues it’s ready to test automated vehicles. The Logan County site broke ground last week on a $45 million SmartCenter that is being billed as the world’s biggest self-driving-vehicle test track. When it’s finished, the center will consist more than 18 miles of paved road and give researchers, automakers and safety organizations real-world tools and experience before putting driverless cars on public streets.

Ever since the Transportation Department bypassed the East Liberty site in January 2017, the Ohio delegation has been on a mission to convince Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to include Ohio on that list, bringing her to the site last April and sending two letters — one last year and one this week — urging her to add the East Liberty site to the list. Chao, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, has expressed some willingness to consider adding the East Liberty site. Jordan and Gibbs joined Reps. Bob Latta, R–Bowling Green, Warren Davidson, –-Troy and Bill Johnson, R–Marietta in speaking on behalf of the site Tuesday.

The Department of Transportation began seeking proposals for a pilot program to designate automated vehicle proving grounds in November 2016. The 10 designees were picked from more than 60 applicants with the East Liberty site among those applying. Transportation instead picked sites in Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, Michigan, two sites in California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.

Proponents of picking the TRC say that adding the East Liberty site to the list would allow the facility to receive federal research funding for driverless vehicles. Those federal dollars would be helpful to TRC as it moves forward, said Brett Roubinek, president and CEO of TRC. The center applied for the designation in 2016 but did not receive it.

Gibbs said while two of the 10 sites had begun work testing automated vehicles, some that received the designation had no physical facilities to do so. “It was really just a Christmas list,” he said, adding “it’s really unfortunate what happened.”

“How we can have the premiere facility in the country that doesn’t get on the list of 10? It just makes no sense….we should be the captain of the ship, and we really are.”

“This is a pre-eminent free-marketing center,” said Davidson. “Only the government can disrupt that. The trouble is, they have.”

Trending - Most Read Stories