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How conmen are using legitimate Title Deeds to scam land buyers

A Kenyan man who appeared on Prayer Cave TV has revealed how cons are now using genuine land Title Deeds to scam unsuspecting buyers. In a video shared on TikTok, the man disclosed the common tricks that these fraudsters employ to scam land buyers.

Typically, the fraudsters present a buyer with a genuine Title Deed to go and conduct a land search and investigate the land at all relevant government offices. Thereafter, they use the trust they’ve built to con the unsuspecting buyer.

“They give you a copy of the original Title Deed first to go and conduct the search. Automatically when I do the search, it will be original, true and authentic. But on the material day the owner comes with the original Title Deed, he comes with a fake title. You can remember you did your own due diligence, you went to ground, you went to the site, conducted a search; it is corresponding and people are confirming. At this point, you are 80% convinced and there is no room for doubt,” he explained.

“And remember, these people may be corresponding with people in the registry so they are able to get the right paper, the right seal and the deed is even printed from the registry. So it is as good as original. And remember, you don’t have any other original. And if you are not keen to check even the seal number, you can lose your money,” he explained further.

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In response, some of the viewers said they either knew of someone or had personally been conned using such tricks.

“How can we be helped… am in this situation,” said Mm20202023.

“It is true. I was almost conned (in this way. It’s) good someone from the registry chanuared (enlightened) me,” commented Maria.

“People should realize a title deed is the most useless thing when buying land,” Kanyiri Murigi wrote.

“The government has failed us coz it should digitize these documents,” Joseph Mwangi 5385 said.

So, how can you ensure you don’t fall victim to these land buying scams that have become very common?

Well, prior to buying land you have identified, you need to go to the relevant authorities to inquire whether the land is available for sale, registered and suitable for the purpose for which you want to buy it. Then  find out if the owner truly owns the land. If that is the case, set up an appointment for valuation to establish the land’s market value.

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The next step is to meet the seller in person and request them to provide you with their National Identity Card and PIN Certificates. Visit the piece of land physically to confirm it really exists. You can also speak to neighbours near the land to get more details of the land and the land owner; whether the land has any disputes attached to it, and if it is private or communal property.

Engage a surveyor to ascertain the boundaries of the land and to get the map of the land to ensure the land and Title Deed number match. Then proceed to investigate the Title Deed by conducting a search at the land registry – here you will know the owner, if the land has any issues/disputes, know the exact size of the land and any fees attached to it.

Thereafter, check if the documents are authentic. These include the sale agreements, land transfer documents, Title Deeds, Green Card and Share Certificates. Make sure to check on any land rates or rent attached to the property by going to eCitizen to avoid paying penalties that should have been cleared prior to sale.

If everything is in order and you have paid the deposit, proceed to fence the land to prevent encroachment and to keep off conmen from re-selling the land. It is safer to pay a deposit then pay slowly for the land than paying at once and having the land sold again without your knowledge. There will be less money in dispute when you go to the authorities to report the scam.

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