Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Title Agency Abruptly Shuts Down As Criminal Probers, Auditors From State Regulator, Insurance Underwiter Look For Million$ In Missing R/E Escrow Loot

In Farmington, New Mexico, The Daily Times reports:

  • Several million dollars appear to be missing from title and escrow accounts at New Mexico Title Co., a police detective said Tuesday, as the investigation widens into possible wrongdoing at the Farmington business. "It's going to be a pretty large and complex investigation," said Farmington Police Sgt. Brandon Lane.

  • The New Mexico Division of Insurance is auditing the business with the help of the title company's insurance underwriter, First American Title Insurance Co. A report is expected as soon as this week. Once that report is completed, Farmington police will determine if criminal charges are warranted, Lane said. Investigators are working to discover the extent of funds missing, but the initial investigation suggests it could be more than $10 million, he said.


  • On Friday, the state's Financial Institutions Division obtained a restraining and enforcement order to prevent documents at the business from being destroyed or altered. First American Title Insurance won a similar court order giving auditors access to the business. In its complaint seeking the court order, the Santa Ana, Calif.-based insurance company said its auditors were barred from entering the business and examining documents on Feb. 1.


  • New Mexico Title Co. closed abruptly on Jan. 30 when it stopped accepting title work and interim manager Quentin Smith sent employees home. For days afterward, a phone message said that the business was closed. Customers began to stream in to inquire about their escrow accounts and the status of their real estate transactions.

  • Several New Mexico Title Co. customers told The Daily Times they had not received expected disbursements from escrow accounts, or that their payments to escrow accounts were not properly credited.

For more, see Millions missing: Investigation widens into NM Title Co.

Thanks to Deontos for the heads-up on the story.

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