CLERK & COMPTROLLER INVESTIGATION LEADS TO FRAUD ARREST
Review of Questionable Quit Claim Deeds Uncovers Suspected Plot to Illegally Transfer Properties
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (May 27, 2011) – An investigation into questionable quit claim deeds, initiated by the Clerk & Comptroller’s internal Division of Inspector General, has led to the arrest of a Wellington man suspected in a county-wide fraud scheme.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kesner Joaseus, 41, on May 26, 2011, on a charge of organized fraud. Joaseus is accused of falsifying quit claim deeds resulting in the illegal transfer of several homes in Palm Beach County from the legitimate owners to his business, K & R Investment Capital. Kesner allegedly targeted vacant or foreclosed homes, renting the properties after the quit claim deed transfers, according to the probable cause affidavit. The Clerk’s internal investigation triggered a more in depth criminal investigation by the Sheriff’s office.
“If a document appears to be filled out properly, Clerks are required by law to record all documents as they are presented to us, protecting the integrity of the original record,” said Clerk Bock. “But sometimes facts present themselves that trigger an investigation by our IG. And, that’s what happened in this case.”
The Clerk’s office was first alerted to the suspected fraud in November 2009, when an employee with the county’s Water Utilities Department contacted the Clerk’s Recording Department to discuss what she believed was a questionable quit claim deed.
Simultaneously, a couple came to the Clerk’s office alleging that their signatures had been forged on a quit claim deed. Their home was part of a foreclosure case that hadn’t been finalized. They had stopped to check on the property, only to find that the locks had been changed and someone else was living in the house. The quit claim deed showed that the property had been transferred to K & R Investment Capital.
The Clerk’s Recording Department and IG identified as many as 31 quit claim deeds that had been transferred to K & R Investment Capital, a West Palm Beach company that listed Joaseus as the president. Those findings were turned over to law enforcement for the criminal investigation into whether the documents were falsified.
Clerk Bock urges citizens to be diligent about checking their own property records online to minimize the possibility of fraud.
“Much like you check your credit report to make sure that you haven’t become the victim of identity theft, Palm Beach County residents should proactively check the official records to ensure that all mortgages, deeds, liens and other recorded documents are accurate,” said Clerk Bock.
Property records can be reviewed by using the Clerk’s online Official Records search, which is available on this website, www.mypalmbeachclerk.com. Anyone who finds fraudulent documents should file a report with their local law enforcement agency. Information about public records privacy and identity theft is also available online or by calling (561) 355-2996.
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents. In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.
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