• 57°

Beware: Company targets Carter County area through deed scam

BY TY BUTLER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
In this day and age, scammers have become more prevalent by twisting the truth and tricking unaware customers through online schemes and advanced selling techniques — Elizabethton residents are not immune to this deception, as a new scam has massively hit the area.
A California-based company is targeting local residents, charging a negligent fee for property deeds. Unbeknownst to some, individuals can obtain the same deed through their local courthouse for free.
Jarrod Ellis, the Register of Deeds at Elizabethton’s Carter County Courthouse, detailed the scam.
“When people transfer property, this company sends letters in the mail, saying that they can obtain a copy of your deed for $95. The problem is, those same people can come in here and get a copy of their deed for free. It’s a part of being a taxpayer,” said Ellis.
And though the scam has exploited many individuals, police departments across the nation are unable to pursue the fraudulent act, as it is a legal con.
The company is able to find entry into the property owner’s information through online records and an easy internet search — names and addresses are public records, which allows for this scheme to disguise itself as a legitimate request.
Ellis states that the shady dealing is a way of taking advantage of unsuspecting citizens for a quick buck. According to the courthouse worker, numerous Elizabethton residents have come into contact with the scam, but only a few have attempted to dig deeper into the mysterious request.
“They are accessing this information, printing the information and charging people. If they send out thousands of envelopes to residents, that’s easy money. In the last two months, we’ve had around 50 people contact us,” Ellis said.
The company also attempted to target Ellis through mail requests, however, thanks to his prior experience and expertise in the field, Ellis was able to quickly identify the scam and discard the request. For those who are less familiar with the antics, it can be a slippery slope to legal fraud.
Though the scam has freshly taken over the Carter County landscape, the act is very common nationwide, and has been used for numerous years to separate homeowners from their wallet. If one were to receive this mail, he/she should then contact the Carter County Courthouse at 423-542-1825 for further assistance.
There is little denying that the world has become more complex, as internet providers openly give access to records, allowing for personal information to be spilled across the cyberspace terrain. Scammers have evolved and are flourishing in a nation full of citizens who are willing to pay bills in order to stay out of trouble.
There is no “buyer-beware” label on these strategic cons, it is now up to citizens to take a closer look into the shady schemes and uncover the truth. Thankfully, experts like Ellis are here to assist when the time comes.
“We have a hard copy and paper copy of every deed from 1796 through today. If someone needs a deed, we have it. If someone gets this mail, just give us a call and we’ll guide you in the right direction,” Ellis said.