REAL estate broker Joanne Almaden, founder of local online portal Phil Property Expert, offers tips on how to spot fake land titles in 30 seconds.
“Despite all the regulations put in place to fight scammers and con men in the Philippine real estate industry, there are still a lot of cases being reported where unsuspecting victims fall for fake land titles,” noted Almaden.
She said a property buyer’s first line of defense is a short and quick check of the land title being presented.
According to her, there are very specific characteristics of authentic Philippine land titles, and if one or more is missing, chances are someone is dealing with a scammer.
In her blog, Almaden enumerates items can be checked in 30 seconds or less.
First, she pointed out, papers used for authentic land titles in the Philippines are supplied by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
She said the texture should be similar to that of a bank check, and it should have a faint watermark that says “LRA.”
“If it’s an old title—before the newer e-titles used today—the color of the paper should be light yellow. If it’s an e-title, the color should be pale straw,” Almaden said. “Tiny fibers and dots should be noticeable. And if you could use a UV light, these fibers should shine slightly when subjected to UV light.”
As for the content, Almaden said one should see if the land title is an Original Certificate of Title, as indicated by the label “Judicial Form No. 108-D” on top.
If it is a Transfer Certificate of Title, it should indicate “Judicial Form No. 109-D,” Almaden said.
The serial number label (S.N. No.), she added, should be in red color, while the digits should be in black for the owner’s duplicate. The last two digits of the page number on the upper right hand side should correspond to the last two digits of the TCT number.
“The red/blue border should be slightly embossed and not flatly printed,” she said. “For e-titles, all entries should be computer encoded and printed, unlike old versions, which were manually typewritten. The seal on the lower left hand side should be dark red and does not blot when a little water check is done.”
Almaden added that for Judicial OCT, it should have two signatures present—the Administrator and the Registrar; while for TCT, only the signature of the Registrar is present.
“When it comes to transactions involving any kind of real estate, the money involved is usually considerable, if not a serious amount,” Almaden warned. “So you’ll have to be careful, especially when you’re dealing with strangers. Keep in mind the above items and look for them in a land title that is presented to you. If the title does not pass this simple test, then you have saved yourself a lot of trouble, time and money. You don’t have to do further verification anymore since you already know it’s fake.”