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Scam targets new homeowners

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Slick real estate cons are trying to trick new homeowners into buying an unneeded copy of their deed.

The scam targets new homeowners when they're most vulnerable. It's a letter giving them only days to send in their money for a copy of their deed. 

The catch?  It's something they don't even need.

In the days following the purchase of his new home, Eric Wilke received a suspicious letter in the mail.

Inside, a final notice from 'Record Retrieval Department', giving him one week to buy a copy of his new deed before being charged a late-fee.

"It said up to $87 is what you'll be charged, which was kind of sketchy," said Wilke. 

So, he called his realtor and discovered the letter was nothing but a scam.

"They're taking advantage of the clients. They come in official documentation and our client was really quite upset," said realtor Chris Dickson.

Attorney David Harris specializes in real estate law. He says, "The scam part of this is that it is designed to look like it came from a government agency and it's designed to look like an invoice that you're supposed to pay."

We called the number listed for Record Retrieval Department and got a recorded message.

"Please note, this is not a government agency," the message stated. "At any time, you can purchase a copy of your deed through your local county recorder's office."

Vanderburgh County Deputy Recorder Laura Brown says deeds are public and copies cost just $1 per page.

A far cry from the $87 Wilke thought he'd have to pay for something he now knows he doesn't need.

"Be careful," he advised. "Overlook it. If you think it's questionable, ask somebody about it because they look pretty legit."

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