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. For example, just recently (March 22, 2015), Inquirer reported on a land scam syndicate which already has a number of victims who lost their money by buying properties with fake titles.
To avoid getting yourself into a similar problem, your first line of defense is a short and quick check of the land title that is presented to you. There are very specific characteristics of authentic Philippine land titles. If one or more of these are missing on the title that is presented to you, then you know right away that you’re dealing with scammers.
Ms. Ruby Valdez, one of the land registration examiners from the Land Registration Authority of the Philippines, shares with us these items which you can check for in 30 seconds or less.
The papers used for authentic land titles in the Philippines are supplied by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas. These papers are physically unique from all other kinds of papers that you can buy from stores. Here are the things you should look for:
- The texture is similar to that of a bank check
- It has a faint watermark that says “LRA“
- If it’s an old title (before the newer e-Titles being used today), the color of the paper is light yellow.
- If it’s an e-Title, the color should be pale straw.
- Tiny fibers and dots should be noticeable
- And if you could use a UV light, these fibers should fluoresce or shine slightly when subjected to UV light.
Below are the items you should look for in the contents of the title you are checking:
- If it’s an Original Certificate of Title (OCT), it should indicate “Judicial Form No. 108-D” at the top.
- If it’s a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT), it should indicate “Judicial Form No. 109-D“
- The serial number label (SN No.) 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 in 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.
- For e-Titles, all entries should be computer encoded and printed, unlike the old versions which were manually type-written
- The seal on the lower left hand side should be dark red and does not blot when a litle water check is done.
for Judicial OCT, it should have 2 signatures present – the Administrator and the Registrar; while for TCT, only the signature of the Registrar is present.
For Administrative Titles: one signature from a PENRO or CENRO officer and another from the registrar.
When it comes to transactions involving any kind of real estate, the money involved is usually considerable, if not a serious amount. 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.
However, please also note that even if the title passes this first and immediate test, you still can’t be 100% sure that it is authentic, until you verify it with the LRA, the Registry of Deeds and the concerned local offices of the Municipality where the property is located. Stay safe from fake title scams everyone.