A Brazilian couple’s lawsuit claims a South Florida company stole ownership of their Parkland home using a fraudulent quit-claim deed with a forged signature.
“My client never signed anything, never sold their home, this came as a total surprise to them,” said Elias Hilal, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who is representing the married couple, Hectory Ferreira and Audrey Nieman. “They are the rightful owners and have maintained their property in good standing.”
Hilal said Ferreira and Nieman have owned the home since 2011. The home is assessed at $566,000, according to the property appraiser.
The couple lived in the house, in the 8100 block of Northwest 124th Terrace, for several years and then rented it to a family friend after they moved back to Brazil.
Quit-claim deeds are used to transfer ownership of real property but come without a title or warranty. They are most often used to transfer ownership between family members.
A total of 93,035 quit-claim, warranty and other deeds and titles were recorded last year at the Broward County Records, Taxes and Treasury Division, but that office does not investigate whether documents are fraudulent.
“We do not have an investigative arm in our office, nor do we have any way of determining if a deed is fraudulent, as we index the document based on the information contained with the document presented,” said Jeannie Terwilliger, the division’s operations manager.
The division forwards the records to the county property appraiser’s office, which updates ownership in its database.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office works with other state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate possible homeowners and mortgage fraud. Statistics on how many quit-claim investigations it has conducted year-to-year were not available Tuesday.
Powermind was sued by MLB Properties, LLC in December, but the lawsuit didn’t involve a quit-claim deed. Filed in Broward Circuit Court, the lawsuit sought to have Powermind relinquish claim to a home in the 4000 block of Northwest Third Street in Plantation.
MLB Properties bought the home in May for $130,000. Powermind had been the previous legal title owner, according to the lawsuit, but after the sale, it continued to assert ownership of the residence. But earlier this month, a judge declared MLB Properties the rightful owner.
The Parkland quit-claim deed has a date stamp of May 4, 2015. The document was recorded with the county on Feb. 1.
“My client was not in the U.S. at the date Powermind claims he signed the deed in person in Palm Beach, that is something that is indisputable,” Hilal said. “There was never any contract or any agreement between my client and Powermind, in fact, they had never heard of that company.”
Powermind has nine days remaining to respond to the lawsuit filed in Broward Circuit Court. The lawsuit seeks to nullify the quit-claim deed, and $5,000 in damages and court fees.
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