Conviction of Attorney and Title Agency CEO for $26 Million Fraud Crime Reinforces Need for Closing Agent Risk Management

According to an article published today in Mortgage Professional America, the former CEO of LandCastle Title, who also served as the managing partner of a real estate law firm, will spend 15 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to bilk his firm out of millions of dollars.

Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 53, operated both LandCastle Title and Morris Hardwick Schneider, a law firm that specialized in residential real estate closings and foreclosures. He was convicted in October of wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution.

Real estate attorneys and title professionals have access to lender funds, lender loan documents (including the note and mortgage), are charged with satisfying liens and judgments and ensuring lien priority.  They also have direct access to consumers and all of the consumer’s personal and financial information.  One a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest risk tier, settlement agents are in Tier 10.

Lenders must have a comprehensive, ongoing program of evaluating, rating, monitoring such risk as well as taking immediately steps to alter or disengage in any relationship that may cause harm.

Title and closing fraud are, by most estimates, a nearly $1 Billion dollar annual problem.  If you add in wire fraud the numbers escalate.

Ignoring this risk will not make it go away.  The Nathan Hardwicks of the industry will make sure of that.  Be vigilant and remember our motto: “trust, but verify.”

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