Since spring 2014, the city sheriff’s office, which is part of the Finance Department, has made combating deed theft a top investigative priority.
Sheriff Joseph Fucito and the Finance Department stepped up their vigilance after a series of high-profile stories exposed the ease with which scammers could register deeds in city records.
Now the Finance Department flags any deed transfers that are filed with defective information and sends them to the sheriff’s investigators.
Between July 1, 2014, and April 30, 2015, the sheriff’s office received a total of 755 complaints of suspected deed thefts — with the Finance Department sending 597 of them. More than 150 came from individual people filing complaints.
The sheriff has so far opened criminal investigations into more than 100 of those complaints and more than a half dozen people have been arrested.