District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced that Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1342 (Chapter 104, Statutes of 2012) into law.
SB 1342 was sponsored by District Attorney Totten and the California District Attorneys Association to combat real estate fraud in California.
The measure provides county boards of supervisors with the discretion to increase the Real Estate Fraud Trust Fund fee charged upon the recording of certain real estate documents from the current fee of $3 per document to a maximum of $10.
The bill also allows a portion of the funds to be directly allocated to the county recorder to support fraud prevention programs, such as sending fraud advisory letters to at-risk homeowners.
According to RealtyTrac, California leads the nation with more than 47,000 residences pending foreclosure. Research shows approximately 2.2 million people or one-third of all California homeowners are “upside down” on their mortgages.
Fifty percent of non-profit housing counselors have reported that fraud is “very common.” Working with the Ventura County Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team (REFAT), the District Attorney’s Office has observed that distressed homeowners in California are increasingly being targeted by a variety of foreclosure rescue scams and the perpetrators of these crimes frequently target monolingual and elderly people in our communities.
District Attorney Totten appreciates Senator Bill Emmerson’s leadership in authoring this measure and the pivotal role co-author Assemblyman Jeff Gorell played in the passage of this bill in the Assembly last month.
This bill will provide a consistent funding stream for counties throughout California to pay for an effective law enforcement response to the real estate fraud epidemic in our state.
In late 2005, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors authorized the implementation of the Real Estate Fraud Trust Fund to address the growing need to investigate and prosecute real estate fraud crimes.
The passage of this new law now gives the Board of Supervisors the opportunity to address critical funding limitations by considering an appropriate increase to the current $3 fee.
This new law and any fee increase authorized by the Board of Supervisors take effect January 1, 2013.