By Cherri Gregg

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Earlier this week, the Philadelphia DA’s office charged four people with fraud for stealing more than 20 houses over several years. Local experts have advice on how homeowners and homebuyers can protect themselves.

“A fraudulent conveyance when it relates to real property is basically house stealing,” says Attorney Roxanne Crowley with Philly VIP, which provides legal services to low-income individuals throughout Philadelphia.

She says she sees dozens and dozens of cases of fraudulent deed conveyances and advises homeowners to be proactive. She says if you own vacant property make sure it looks like someone lives there.

“Make sure someone comes by or have a neighbor collect the mail, come by, collect the snow,” says Crowley. “Another important thing is to make sure that they always read all of their mail as it relates to the property. If someone stops receiving their real estate tax bill, they should be concerned.”

She says if you’re looking to buy, make sure you visit the home yourself. Crowley says buyers should get a title report from the Records Department and then get the title insured.

And remember — buyer beware, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

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