Friday, July 5, 2013

Closing Agent Faces Grand Theft Charges After Allegedly Ripping Off Premiums Paid For Title Policies Issued With Expired Insurance License

In West Palm Beach, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:

  • Homeowners and sellers from Jacksonville to Plantation were left swindled out of more than $11,000 in title insurance fees after putting their trust in a Coral Springs woman and her Boca based business, according to a Florida Department of Financial Services Fraud Division report.

    The five victims assumed the policies from Dawn Maria Smith, 44, were legitimate but investigators said otherwise and arrested her on five counts of grand theft [...].

    Despite an insurance agent license that expired in June 2009, investigators said Smith continued to act as a title insurance agent for Fidelity National Title Group Corporation/Common Wealth Land Title Insurance Corporation based in Jacksonville, according to the report.

    Investigators said Smith defrauded her victims by using falsified titles that showed the houses involved were clear of liens and other issues through 24 Hour Title, her suburban Boca business.

    Smith used an old policy number with Rollie Dudik, of Ormond Beach, to defraud him out of $1,550 in title insurance fees. But when he never got his title search or insurance policy, he contacted Fidelity only to find out there was no record of his purchase.

    An investigation into Smith was launched the same month.

    A representative with Fidelity National Title Group confirmed an investigator's suspicions, telling them she never saw any funds from Smith, the home owners and sellers in her policies.

    Smith was booked into Palm Beach County Jail on Wednesday and released the next day after posting $22,500 bail.

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