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Former Texas Broker Accused in Alleged Warranty Deed

March 2, 2010

A former mortgage broker forged deeds to more than 100 properties in Tarrant County, Texas, netting him more than $1 million, according to a federal complaint unsealed by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

According to the charges, Norris Lynn Fisher allegedly ran a mail fraud scheme that involved filing fraudulent warranty deeds with the Tarrant County Clerk’s office to facilitate the theft of real property from rightful owners. The properties involved in the fraudulent warranty deed transfers were almost always vacant lots with unpaid back taxes due and/or with weed liens filed against them by the city of Fort Worth, according to Jacks.

According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, Fisher would often file a forged warranty deed transferring the property to a fictitious buyer, forging the signature of the true property owner, and forging the signature and notary stamp affixed to the documents. After forging the deed, Fisher filed it with the Tarrant County Clerk’s Office and once it was on file, the clerk’s office would record it and mail the original file-stamped fraudulent warranty deeds to the name and address designated on the warranty deed.

However, to conceal his connection with the initial fraudulent conveyance, and ensure that he would receive the original warranty deeds, its alleged Fisher filed change-of-address forms with the U.S. Post Office that caused these warranty deeds to instead be forwarded to a post office box that he had rented.

In another variation of Fisher’s alleged scheme, he would identify properties whose rightful owners had recently died, according to the complaint. Fisher would then file a forged heirship affidavit, attesting that a fictitious person was the sole heir of the deceased owner. Fisher would then file a forged warranty deed transferring the property from the fictitious heir to a business he controlled. Next, Fisher allegedly would file additional fraudulent warranty deeds that transferred the property from the first entity to other business entities he controlled. Fisher operated several business entities for this purpose and would often transfer stolen properties between multiple entities to conceal his connection to the original fraud, the complaint alleged. He concealed his connection to these business entities by listing deceased relatives and/or fictitious people as the owners of the business entities. Fisher's mortgage-broker license was revoked in 2007, according to state records.

Eventually, after transferring the stolen properties to an entity that he controlled, Fisher would lease the mineral rights on the property or sell the property to a buyer who was typically unaware of the fraudulent conveyances.

According to the affidavit, Fisher acquired more than 100 real properties in Tarrant County, Texas, valued at more than $1 million.

The penalty for a mail fraud conviction is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, per count. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.

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