Beware of official-looking envelopes you receive in the mail, especially during the holidays — they may be nothing more than dressed-up ruses to empty your wallet, L.A. County Assessor Jeff Prang warns.
Prang this week sent out a notice to area media reminding residents about scams and common real-estate fraud, with scammers preying on the unsuspecting property owner by way of unsolicited, official-looking mailers.
Prang said that, typically, these official-looking letters claim to offer services for a high cost — when, in fact, such services are free or of very little expense through routine government channels.
“Property owners should closely examine any official-looking mailers,’’ Prang said. “They should be aware of deed scams and unsolicited mailings designed to look as if they’ve been issued by a government agency. My website, assessor.lacounty.gov, has tips about similar scams, and I encourage everyone to learn about these fraudulent practices.’’
A recent example, Prang’s office pointed out, was a woman who transferred the deed to her property into her name, following the death of her husband. The cost of the transaction was $12 — $2 for a copy of the deed and $10 to certify the deal.
But soon after, as was detailed in a recent Los Angeles Times article, the woman received an official-looking envelope from something call the “Local Records Office.” It offered the same service as the woman had just transacted — but for $89.
The truth in such offers is often found buried in the fine print, Prang said.
Prang said he has combined many of the most common real-estate frauds on his website. Among them: Foreclosure rescue, mortgage elimination, equity skimming, equity fraud, fraudulent loan origination, land fraud and rental fraud.
“Unfortunately, there are individuals that try to prey on those that are trusting, especially during the holiday season,’’ Prang said. “We are here to help, and you can contact any one of my five district offices or my main office with any of your questions.”
The nearest assessor’s offices to South Pasadena would be in South El Monte and Downtown L.A.
The South El Monte office is located at 1190 Durfee Ave. Telephone: (626) 258-6001, Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Downtown L.A. office is located at 500 W. Temple Street, Room 225, Los Angeles. Telephone: 1-(888) 807-2111 or (213) 974-2111, Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.