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Monday, April 18, 2016

Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski is warning of the reemergence of a scam designed to rip off Niagara County’s homeowners, and urging county property owners to disregard the letter’s pricey solicitation.

A California company is charging $80 for information that
is available at the county clerk's office for just $5. 
The solicitation, which is being sent by a California-based company, arrives by mail and “recommends that all [New York] homeowners obtain a copy of their current grant deed” with prices in the $80-plus range.

That same document can be obtained from the Niagara County Clerk’s Office for a mere $5.

“This kind of nonsense hurts our elderly and other vulnerable populations by preying on their trust and worries,” Jastrzemski said, after a constituent reached out to him about the solicitation late last week. “These scammers send out a letter that uses words like ‘need’ and talk about the documents being ‘evidence’ that the specific property the person owns ‘was in fact transferred.’ This is an out-of-state company trying to make a quick buck by misleading folks, and it’s wrong.”

Jastrzemski urged the public to contact his office if they receive any such solicitations and are concerned about their property.

“You can visit the Clerk’s Office or call my staff at (716) 439-7022 and they will explain to you what you actually need, and help you if you are missing any important documents,” Jastrzemski said. “And they’re not going to charge you $83 for a document that you could have for $5, if you need it.

Jastrzemski noted the dramatic mark-up in the cost was a tactic used by con artists to profit from homeowners that are both trusting of seeming authority and concerned with protecting their property from, ironically enough, con artists and scams.

“If your deed was filed with my office, it has been recorded and remains valid whether or not you have a certified copy of the deed in your possession,” Jastrzemski added.

Jastrzemski reiterated that his staff is always available to answer property owners’ questions. The Land Records Division of the County Clerk’s Office records all documents pertaining to real property transactions occurring in Niagara County. The Clerk’s Office can be reached at 439-7022, and residents can visit in person between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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