ST. LOUIS – A home is snatched right out from under the owner’s nose after the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds turned the house over to a scammer.
Bernadette Brown was shocked to learn that she didn’t own her house anymore.
Documents show someone gave a quitclaim deed to the Recorder of Deeds, claiming that Brown agreed to turn over her house to this person for nothing.
State law requires documents like a quitclaim deed to be notarized. There was a notary who said Brown was present for the signing of the documents, but there is a problem: a state database of notaries confirms there is no one by that name and number licensed in Missouri.
The Recorder of Deeds Office didn’t catch it.
“What makes me angriest is that I feel that the Recorder of Deeds could have done something, you know?” Brown said. “Property is the most valuable possession that people have, and for them to so easily transfer it from my name to someone else’s name without any identification, without any notification?”
Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler asserts that his office did nothing wrong.
“I think that sounds very…tragic if that were true, but that’s not the case,” he said. “The law requires for there to be a grantor on a quitclaim deed signature, and for the notary public to handle that transaction and make sure everyone is there.”
Brown said it took her 30 seconds to confirm the notary was a fake.
“It’s not our job to check notary publics. We go through over 60,000 documents a year, and it’s not our requirement to do that,” Butler said.
Brown has filed a police report but doesn’t know if they will investigate.
“Initially, I went by the property and I contacted police, and they said they didn’t know how to handle something like this,” she said.
Brown has sued the man who now owns the house as well as the Recorder of Deeds.
The case is scheduled for a hearing just after Thanksgiving.