Fabian_tobin, Home Buyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Deposit money missing from escrow account. What to do?

Asked by Fabian_tobin, Fort Lauderdale, FL Thu Dec 27, 2012

My realtor and real estate lawyer in fort lauderdale have just informed me that my $10k deposit on a condo has been stolen by an employee of the title and escrow company (also owned by my lawyer). I have been told that it is under investigation and the money will eventually be replaced by the insurance co. but not in time for closing. I will have to wire the full purchase amount including the missing funds in order to close. So far they have only provided verbal confirmation of this with no written details or e-mail correspondence. I am Canadian and flying down next week for the condo board interview and will be expect to close within a couple of weeks. What should I do and how can I be sure that the missing funds will eventually be replaced? Should I report this to the police in fort lauderdale while there next week so that there is some record of the crime? I am very surprised that they have not shown me any documentation to support that something is being done about this.

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I would immediately call the Florida State Attorney General's Office 850-414-3300 and report both your the real estate attorney who was supposedly escrowing your money.. Next I would call the real estate lawyer who owns the escrow company and tell them very plainly they have a big problem and it's about to get much worse if they don't come up with your escrowed $10,000 within the next 24 hours.

Tell them you don't care about thier hard luck story, and if you were them you'd beg borrow or steal the $10,000 to return to you. That when you hang up the phone you'll be calling the Florida Bar Association and the State Attorney Generals office and filing formal complaints and that unless you get your $10,000 wired to your bank within the next 24 hours you will do everything within your power to close them down and ruin their reputation.Don't tell them you've already started the process.

Next call the State Bar Association 850/561-5600 and file a complaint.

If your Realtor recommended you to this attorney, then call them and let them know that they better talk to the attorney they recommended to you and between them they better have your $10,000 wired to you within 24 hours and that if you don't have it in your account their going to wish they never met you as you're going to ruin them. Tell them your next call is to the Florida State Real Estate Commission and the State Attorney Generals office and that you're filing a formal complaint against them, their real estate company and the attorney and his escrow company. Florida State Real Estate Commission - 850.487.1395 If the Realtor did not recommend this attorney to you then skip this portion as they had nothing to do with it.

Then follow through. This is extremely serious stuff and personally as a professional when I hear about this type of thing my blood boils.

Next find a new attorney to represent you and when you meet with the condo board simply tell them the truth,

I am truly sorry you find yourself in this predicament, do not waste any time in taking the above steps, While it's possible the attorney wasn't actively involved, I tend to doubt it and regardless they are 100% responsible for their employees and for setting up the proper security measures to ensure something like this never happens.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2012
Sounds suspicious to me!! I would not put up any more money myself, if anyone needs to provide the $10k for closing, it should be the title company that was responsible for it's safe-keeping. You may want to start looking for a new attorney, in case the current one doesn't make this right. Best of luck in your transaction...Jim
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2012

Every one hereon gave you the proper advice and resources for you to pursue your grievance but I want to clarify that, as a former Canadian, I can vouch that this misfortunate incident did not happen to you because you are a Canadian. Regrettably, mishandling funds is something that rarely occurs in real estate but somehow, sometimes, someone gets desperate or bold enough to doing it and it can happen to even American Fort Lauderdale residents. In fact, unfortunately fraud is everywhere, world wide.

Unless your $10K escrow deposit is given back to the title company before closing by the crooked employee or some other arrangements are made by the title attorney put back that $10K in escrow, t you may be forced to close, anyway, and bring the full amount of your purchase to the closing table (Remember that the seller is just as much a victim as you are in this situation).

You can start your grievance now by contacting all the state agencies for consumer protection but you should immediately procure a independent attorney to help you through this legal matter. However, consider that your cost of pursuing this episode to recuperate the $10K may exceed the whole $10K.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
The Escrow Company has two clients with an Escrow; The SELLER and YOU:
Have you talked with an Officer at the Escrow Company?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2012
Yeah, what Larry Tollen said below, they better go and pawn their wife's wedding ring or husband's classic title today to refund your deposit as this is serious

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2012
This is very serious!

I know for a FACT that this kind of thing is on the radar of US Attorney Offices around the country and I assume that the Title Attorney knows this and is likely taking the proper steps to resolve it.

However, if it were me and I was not getting the info I felt I needed, I'd let them know the steps I was prepared to take.

Know this, the State and US Attorney's Office have had Title Companies front and center for a while now.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2012
report the lawyer to the Florida Bar and Dept. of Banking and Finance. They will take care of him. You can also file a report with the States attorney, And I agree with Jim, find another title company!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2012
Thank-you for the advice. I will investigate how to report him to these authorities if he doesn't come up with the money. I had a discussion with my realtor tonight and he agrees that the title company should replace the money in time for closing. He will speak with them tomorrow. Apparently the employee who embezzled the money (a VP and lawyer of the title company) is under investigation but has not been arrested or charged yet.
Flag Thu Dec 27, 2012
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