St. Louis homeowner says she was duped by deed-recovering service


by Mike Colombo / News 4

Posted on September 18, 2012 at 4:12 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A St. Louis property owner says she is the latest victim of a nation-wide scheme to deliver an unneeded service, then charge a high fee.

Shortly after Ellen Beckman, who’s from the Metro-East, bought a condo in St. Louis, she got something in the mail.

“I received a letter from the national record service stating the government recommends that we get a certified copy of the deed for the property,” she said.

That company, National Record Service, offered to do all the leg work and get the deed for $69. They promised to get it back to her in 30 days.

But the days turned into months.

“But now it’s been five months, and I still haven’t heard anything,” Beckman said.

Sharon Quigley-Carpenter, the St. Louis city recorder of deeds, says deed-recovery services prey on elderly and inexperienced homeowners.

It’s all for a service her office can provide in a matter of days, or minutes.

“You can come to the office, it takes a maximum of 15 minutes for us to find your deed, certify it, pay for it and be gone,” she said.

And what do local officials charge?

“You know, $5 for the first page, $3 each additional page, so if you have a two-page document, it’s $8, if you have a one-page document, it’s $5,” Carpenter said.

Beckmann says she doesn’t want anyone else to make the same mistake she did.

“It’s not the money, I just don’t want other people to be scammed,” she said.

The companies that provide deed retrieval services are not breaking any law.  They claim to provide a service for those who can’t, or don’t want to, make the trip to the recorder’s office.

Carpenter points out homeowners can do it all online, or through the mail.