A New Scam Against Elderly Clients in Colorado
By Matthew P. Zanotelli, Meurer Law Offices, P.C.
As a trusts and estates attorney, it is common for our office to record many quitclaim and warranty deeds with the local recorders offices around Colorado (and around the country with the help of out of state attorneys). In handling these real estate transactions, it has come to our attention that a local company is trying to make a profit out of selling records obtainable from your local county at huge markups to the unwary.
The scam appears to work this way: a letter is received by an individual from a “Local Records” department. The letter has an extremely time sensitive “respond by date.” In the letter, there is an offer to provide the individual copies of their local country records for an exorbitant fee (in the letter this attorney is currently holding in his hand, $89.00). Cleverly sent out during tax time (at least the one I am holding in my hand), this letter has a very official look and feel to it, I have had individuals approaching me about these letters believing that they are fees due to their county.
For those of you who are unaware, county records in the State of Colorado are usually obtainable for a mere pittance (twenty five cents per page is the usual cost for a copy of any record, with additional charges for certified copies) if not completely free for the records available online. To pay $89.00 for such a service is to pay 356 times what you should be paying. Scam, as defined by The Free Dictionary at http://www.thefreedictionary.
com/scam), is “to swindle (someone) by means of a trick.” Admittedly, there is a warning on the letter that does state the fee is for a “service” to obtain information for the recipient and that the company is not affiliated with state or local government. But the letter provides very personalized information about property owned by the letter’s recipient which looks like a property tax assessment. When it comes down to someone making $89.00 to sell an elderly client something they could obtain for twenty five cents or for free, only one word seems to fit: Scam.
This blog is the opinion of its author. Individuals outside Colorado should speak with attorneys in their own jurisdiction to determine what laws and rules apply in their specific circumstances. Reading this blog does not enter you into an attorney-client relationship with Meurer Law Offices, P.C. Meurer Law Offices, P.C., is an Estate Planning firm with a presence throughout the Colorado Front Range. Please call 303-991-3544 to set up a client consultation if you wish to speak with an estate planning attorney on these issues.