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NEWS
December 26, 1994
Letting the foxes go back to guard the chicken house, as one official put it, is a mild way of describing the state's lax regulation of title insurance companies. Agents convicted of stealing escrow funds deposited by home buyers can return to their old tricks, and state regulators can't do much about it. Even if the Maryland Insurance Administration tried to crack down on crooks in a business handling millions of dollars of citizens' money, the application for licenses to sell title insurance is so inadequate the agency may not even know who's selling for the company.
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BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | November 2, 2012
An Ellicott City title agent was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for stealing $684,000 from escrow accounts that were intended to pay off mortgage lenders, according to prosecutors. After being released from prison Sandy P. Kim, 43, will face three years of supervised release, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, Kim will also have to forfeit the money she stole. Beginning in 2006, Kim took money from escrow accounts maintained by her company, EK Settlements, according to her plea agreement.
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NEWS
July 12, 1994
The recent bank foreclosure on their Eagle Ranch farm may have ended the subdivision development dreams of Frank and Sharon Duncan in Harford County, but it provides a cautionary tale of misunderstandings about the the coverage of title insurance in real estate transactions.The couple borrowed on their farm to develop another rural parcel near Darlington, but their sale of lots was blocked by the claims of a son of a previous owner. That stopped the cash flow they counted on to finance the mortgage payments and accruing interest on the loans.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | September 14, 2012
An Ellicott City woman pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday for misusing more than $1.5 million in mortgage closing funds, federal prosecutors announced. Harriet M. Taylor, 56, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for comingling mortgage lenders' money that should have been in escrow accounts with the operating accounts of two Columbia title insurance companies, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. Taylor co-owned and managed the companies, Regal Title Co. LLC and Loyalty Title Co. LLC, the statement said.
BUSINESS
By KENNETH HARNEY | May 6, 2006
Have you ever looked at the fees associated with a home purchase and wondered: Why am I paying so much for title insurance? Why do I have to pay $1,000 to $2,000 for coverage when payouts on claims involving actual title defects are minuscule? A congressional subcommittee held a landmark hearing in late April on that very subject, along with a related question: To what degree do illegal tie-ins among realty agents, mortgage brokers, homebuilders and title agents inflate the premiums that consumers pay at closing?
NEWS
By Mark Guidera and Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer | December 18, 1994
In early October, Paula Wagner bought her dream house, a $140,000 home in Catonsville that she now may lose because of alleged thefts by Joseph E. Goldberg Sr.A few days after the purchase, the lender for the seller of the house informed Ms. Wagner that the seller's loan had not been paid off by Mr. Goldberg's firm, Land Title Research, where the property settlement took place.Ms. Wagner faces a foreclosure on the house in February because Mr. Goldberg allegedly took the funds she paid for the )
BUSINESS
By Michael Gisriel | June 12, 1994
Q: Why should I purchase title insurance if there has been only one previous owner [since the land was subdivided]?) Brian Pollack, White Marsh A: Owner, as well as lender or mortgage title insurance, is always recommended for those purchasing a house. There is a one-time premium paid at settlement at rates set by the state. (In Maryland, the rate for owner's and lender's title insurance when purchased together is $3.50 per thousand dollars of coverage.)Title insurance covers you forever against losses from a defect of title.
NEWS
By Mark Guidera and Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer | February 25, 1995
A key state lawmaker proposed legislation yesterday to bring tighter controls to Maryland's title insurance business, including measures aimed at preventing those who have mishandled clients' money from engaging in the business."
BUSINESS
By Ken Harney and Ken Harney,Earthlink | April 27, 2007
Title insurance typically is a mandatory and large cost for most home purchasers and mortgage refinancers - often in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. But is it priced too high for what you actually get? Equally important: Do widespread referral relationships among real estate brokers, title agents and mortgage companies restrict price competition, create anti-consumer conflicts of interest, and discourage buyers from shopping for lower-cost title insurance and closing service options? The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan watchdog agency of Congress, made an in-depth examination of the title industry over the past year and came up with some unsettling findings: "Multiple characteristics of current title insurance markets, as well as allegedly illegal activities by a number of those involved in the marketing of title insurance, suggest that normal competitive forces may not be working properly, raising questions about the prices consumers are paying."
BUSINESS
By Michael Gisriel | November 20, 1994
Q: What are the differences between a "lender's" and an "owner's" title insurance policy? If I buy a house, should I purchase the owner's policy?Mike Bennett, BaltimoreA: As their respective names suggest, the lender's title policy protects the lender against any title defects or claims against the property -- up to the promised amount of the mortgage.The owner's title policy insures the property's owner against any title claims or defects up to the full purchase price of the property -- this amount is adjusted for inflation over time.
NEWS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | February 7, 2012
A Davidsonville man was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison Tuesday for wire fraud stemming from a plot to defraud lenders and a title insurance company of $2.8 million, Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office announced in a statement. The sentence offers Stephen J. Troese Sr., 72, the opportunity to have time knocked off his sentence for good behavior. Troese, who pleaded guilty in October, has also been given three years of supervised release following his incarceration. According to the statement, Troese worked as a title attorney and managed several title companies that did business throughout the Baltimore-Washington region.
NEWS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | October 12, 2011
A Charles County woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to mail fraud that was part of a plan to defraud lenders and a title insurance company of $1.7 million. Brenda Lukenich, 60, of Hughesville was an escrow accountant for title companies that operated in Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. Roughly five years ago, Lukenich altered escrow account statements prior to audits - required by the title insurer - to show that accounts were balanced even though they actually were short about $3 million, the statement said.
BUSINESS
By Jay Hancock | June 20, 2010
In January 2009, as financial markets burned and the Bernard Madoff scandal broke, an alarmed lawyer asked Maryland Title Co. owner George Sybert Sr. about a bounced check from a mortgage-closing escrow account. Sybert admitted taking $300,000 out of the account. Investigators later discovered that he actually took $690,000 by forging the lawyer's name on two checks, according to documents from the Maryland Insurance Administration and prosecutors. And that was only the beginning of the grim accounting.
BUSINESS
By Hanah Cho and Hanah Cho,Sun reporter | May 30, 2008
A real estate title company in Severna Park and Ocean City was shut down after as much as $2 million from its escrow account for property settlements allegedly turned up missing, according to court documents and state regulators. Maryland Insurance Commissioner Ralph S. Tyler ordered yesterday that business licenses for Day Title Inc. and owner Deborah A. Williams be suspended and revoked. The Maryland Insurance Administration issues licenses and regulates title companies, which conduct real estate closings.
BUSINESS
By KEN HARNEY | February 24, 2008
A seemingly arcane policy change by mortgage investor Freddie Mac sheds new light on issues of much broader concern for consumers: Do you really understand where the money is flowing -- all the nooks and crannies -- when you take out a mortgage and pay thousands of dollars in fees at settlement? Is anyone required to explain to you what's really going on inside your home loan -- how it works and whether it could morph into something very different? And could any of this improve soon? Freddie Mac's Feb. 14 policy change affected a dark corner of the mortgage business -- splits of mortgage insurance premiums between lenders and insurers.
BUSINESS
By KEN HARNEY | December 2, 2007
Rigged appraisals, lax underwriting and toxic loan products may dominate the headlines, but they are hardly the only issues causing problems in residential real estate. The federal government and state regulators are targeting other housing-related misdeeds that can cost consumers big money -- especially involving kickbacks among builders, real estate brokers, loan officers, mortgage bankers and title insurers. Buyers and sellers are rarely aware of the cash changing hands, and as a result they are paying needlessly higher prices for services.
NEWS
By Mark Guidera and Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer | December 21, 1994
The state attorney general and a key state legislator intend to try to reform how Maryland regulates the title insurance industry, including barring those who have taken clients' money from returning to the business."
BUSINESS
October 17, 2004
Dear Mr. Azrael: Earlier this year, my wife and I sold our condominium in Crofton and purchased a single-family home from a family in bankruptcy in Elkridge. A Maryland judge approved the sale by the bankrupt family through a court order. Six days later, we were informed that the single-family home had been sold again at a foreclosure auction. After tracking down some of the principals by telephone, I was told that there was really nothing I could do and that I shouldn't call back because the principals involved would be too busy to speak with me. At this point, our title insurance has kicked in and a claim has been filed by a lawyer representing us to figure out what happened.
BUSINESS
By June Arney and June Arney,Sun reporter | July 25, 2007
A class action lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars in home equity allegedly bilked from hundreds of distressed homeowners in Maryland, Virginia and Washington was shifted to federal court yesterday, broadening its scope to multiple jurisdictions. The 76-page suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, targets Metropolitan Money Store Corp. of Lanham and other defendants and supplants a similar lawsuit filed in Prince George's County Circuit Court last month. Lawyers who prepared both suits yesterday asked that the state suit be dismissed.
BUSINESS
By Ken Harney and Ken Harney,Earthlink | April 27, 2007
Title insurance typically is a mandatory and large cost for most home purchasers and mortgage refinancers - often in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. But is it priced too high for what you actually get? Equally important: Do widespread referral relationships among real estate brokers, title agents and mortgage companies restrict price competition, create anti-consumer conflicts of interest, and discourage buyers from shopping for lower-cost title insurance and closing service options? The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan watchdog agency of Congress, made an in-depth examination of the title industry over the past year and came up with some unsettling findings: "Multiple characteristics of current title insurance markets, as well as allegedly illegal activities by a number of those involved in the marketing of title insurance, suggest that normal competitive forces may not be working properly, raising questions about the prices consumers are paying."
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