Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ex-Mortgage Broker Pocketed $1M+ By Acquiring, Selling Vacant Lots, Abandoned Properties Using Forged Deeds, Say Fort Worth Feds

In Fort Worth, Texas, the Star Telegram reports:

  • For more than two years, authorities say, former mortgage broker Norris Lynn Fisher toured Tarrant County looking for vacant lots and properties that looked abandoned. When he found one, he would forge a deed to transfer the property to fictitious owners, repeating the process several times before selling it to one of his companies, investigators said. In that way, Fisher netted more than $1 million by fraudulently acquiring more than 100 Tarrant County properties, according to a 19-page criminal complaint unsealed Friday after Fisher was arraigned in federal court on a mail fraud charge.(1)


  • A man told an investigator that his name had been forged on a fraudulent deed and transferred to a fictitious woman in Los Angeles and then forwarded to a Fort Worth post office box rented by Fisher. In renting the box, Fisher identified himself as secretary-treasurer of J-Tex Construction Inc. That forwarding tactic was used in many of the deed transfers, as was the use of forged signatures on notary seals affixed to the deed, investigators said. Seven notary stamps were found during a July 2009 search of Fisher's Fort Worth home, the complaint states. At least one was linked to forged notary signatures, investigators said.

  • Many of the victims were elderly, including 84-year-old Margaret Jennings who learned that she no longer owned her late father's land when she tried to pay her taxes. "The lady told me two other people bought that land," Jennings said. "I said they didn't buy it lawfully, but she said they owned it. "I've been worried a lot about it. It made me sick that my daddy worked so hard for that little piece of land."

For more, see Ex-broker accused of fraudulently acquiring more than 100 Dallas-Fort Worth properties.

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Fort Worth, Texas Man Arrested For Stealing more Than $1 Million In Real Estate From Rightful Owners (Federal Complaint Charges Norris L. Fisher with Mail Fraud).

(1) According to this story, the criminal complaint alleges that Fisher usually targeted vacant lots with unpaid back taxes or liens, and in some cases, Fisher acquired property by forging affidavits of heirship from deceased property owners.

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