EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 18, 2013

Register of Deeds calls for probes of 'scam' company

By Mark E. Vogler

---- — LAWRENCE — Register of Deeds M. Paul Iannuccillo has called on the Massachusetts and Delaware state attorney generals to investigate the business activities of a Delaware company that has been offering to sell free deeds and related documents to local homeowners for $83.

In his letters to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, Iannuccillo has also requested both officials to issue cease and desist orders that would prohibit Property Transfer Services of Wilmington, Del. from soliciting further business from Massachusetts and to order repayment of any fees paid by homeowners.

“It is my understanding that at least one homeowner has paid the fee of $83,” Iannuccillo wrote Coakley.

“I would respectfully request that your office conduct an investigation to determine if the business activities of Property Transfer Services are in full compliance with Massachusetts General and Special laws as well as Federal law,” he said.

Iannuccillo called for a similar investigation from the Delaware state attorney general.

“In Massachusetts, a homeowner can print a free copy of their deed from the Registry’s website,” he advised both officials.

The requests for the overlapping investigations comes on the heels of a public education campaign Iannuccillo launched last week to warn homeowners in Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover about the company’s practice of seeking excessive fees for documents the public routinely gets for free. He said he thinks it’s “a scam” and vowed to

The Northern Essex District Registry of Deeds office issued a Registry Consumer Alert after learning of a recent letter titled “Deed Processing Notice” mailed by Property Transfer Services to area homeowners. The letter resembles a bill and lists a “Compliance Response Date” for sending the check with a special form to be returned in an enclosed envelope.

Iannuccillo, who is concerned that senior citizens could be potential victims, took steps to alert the public by having a bulletin posted on the registry’s website. Homeowners can obtain access to the registry’s computer database at the website (lawrencedeeds.com). Or, they can call the Customer Service Desk at 978-557-1900 or email northernessexcustomerservice@sec.state.ma.us for a free certified copy of their deed, which the registry will mail to them.

“All the Senior Citizen Centers have been notified via email and first class mail,” he said.

Numerous communities in Massachusetts have been the subject of solicitation efforts by Property Transfer Services.