KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Americans now have a simple way to report a growing crime.

Jackson County, Missouri, sounded the alarm in September after it noticed an increase in deed fraud. The crime happens when someone files a fake deed to a home.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Missouri, said the crime is fairly easy to commit because the county recorder is not responsible for verifying the validity, authenticity or legitimacy of the deed that is recorded and pursuant to state law must accept it if its been notarized.

Jackson County’s Recorder of Deeds has logged 154 suspicious activity reports over the last four years. 

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, issued a warning about the growing number of crimes involving deed fraud.

The department also established a a hotline where anyone can report deed fraud. That hotline is 1-800-347-3735. The reports can also be submitted online at hudoig.gov/hotline.

Cleaver said he’s happy with the hotline as he works with other lawmakers to focus on legislation to strengthen federal protections for homeowners and crack down on criminals.

“I’m proud to stand with Representative Evans, Secretary Fudge, Inspector General Oliver Davis, and the Biden Administration to continue to raise awareness about these fraudulent schemes so that hardworking families can better protect themselves,” Cleaver said.

Cleaver also called on HUD to continue to track data about deed fraud that will help lawmakers create the legislation.

Cleaver introduced the Good DEED Act last month, which he co-authored.

If passed, the bill would establish the first federal definition of deed fraud, increase penalties for criminals, create a federal grant program to assist law enforcement and local government with tracking and combating the practice, and expand access to legal services for victims.

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