5/22/2009: Security News Brief: Texas Landowners Lose Their Land To Massive Fraud Scheme:
Hundreds of Texas landowners may be forced to battle in court to get their own properties back after investigators announced the landowners may have been victims of a massive fraud.
Authorities believe one or more people executed fraudulent sales of the properties in question by forging sales documents and submitting fake buyers, WFAA-TV reported.
By the time the real land owners were made aware of the transactions, they had already been stripped of their rights to their properties land and of the minerals within them.
Victim Hector Macias said in his case it all happened within hours.
"All you need is a notary and a fake signature and they can take your property," Macias told WFAA, but getting the lawful title back could take several months and thousands of dollars.
The FBI, U.S. Postal Service and the Tarrant County District Attorney's office were all investigating the scam.
Second News Brief Update:
FORT WORTH - Hundreds of landowners in North Texas may have had their property stolen without their knowledge.
Investigators believe a massive fraud has taken place involving forged sales documents and fake buyers.
Daniel Ayala Sr. and Pedro Hererra signed over their properties for the sum of $10 on February 19, according to documents. Ayala's sons were understandably stunned to hear about it.
Daniel Ayala Sr. and Pedro Hererra have both been dead since 2003.
Both signatures on the sales documents appear to be by the same hand, and look remarkably like the signature of "Mary A. Rodriguez," a woman with an address in Miami, Florida.
Rodriguez's name appears on dozens — if not hundreds — of recent property sales in Tarrant County that were completed with forged documents.
By the time victims find out, their land has already been sold and valuable mineral rights stripped out.
"They've sold it. They've sold the mineral rights already. That's it," said real estate agent, Hidie Maldonado after viewing official documents.
It all happened within hours to land owned by Hector Macias. "All you need is a notary and a fake signature and they can take your property," he said.
Macias has been told it could take several months and thousands of dollars to get the lawful title to his properties back.
The fake signature on his deal also looks a lot like Mary A. Rodriguez's, who may also be using the name "Maria D. Gomez."
According to sales documents, both women live in Miami, but authorities doubt if they even exist.
The FBI, U.S. Postal Service inspectors and the Tarrant County District Attorney's office are all investigating the scheme which could involve hundreds of victims and millions of dollars.
Source: Morning Security News Brief via Internal Company News Wire- Washington