Property assessor says fake letter asking for money fooling some in Tenn.

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A warning this week from the Shelby County Assessor of Property Melvin Burgess. If you own a home or business in Memphis and Shelby County, be on the lookout for a bogus letter that attempts to solicit money from you.

The letter looks official, and Burgess said it closely resembles the Notice of Informal Review that the assessor’s office sends out this time of year to inform property owners about informal review decisions. But don’t be fooled, this letter is definitely not legitimate.

“We want to let homeowners know to be aware of a scam of this type,” said Burgess.

Burgess said the letter is circulating in the Nashville area right now. The Davidson County Assessor of Property reached out to Burgess to warn him, so that he can warn Shelby County property owners.

“I want people to understand our process here and be aware there are a lot of scams going on,” said Burgess. “People need their money in these times. Gas is five dollars a gallon. We don’t need to take people’s money. It’s unfair.”

The fraudulent letter claims to be from the non-existent “Clerks Property Office” in Nashville and it tells recipients they can obtain a copy of their deed for $89. It goes on to instruct homeowners to make the check payable to an address in St. Petersburg, Florida – another major red flag said Burgess. That, and the fact that his office never collects payment for any services.

“This office does not collect money and we do not send out any invoices or charges to our taxpayers and property owners,” he said. “And when we do our informal reviews, we do them for free. There is nothing you have to pay.”

Shelby County Registrar of Deeds Shelandra Ford recently created a Property Fraud Alert Program after seeing an alarming number of fraudulent deeds getting filed in her office. Homeowners can now sign up to receive text or email alerts if someone attempts to file any paperwork on their property with the registrar’s office.

Now it’s Burgess’ turn to remind homeowners to stay vigilant and not fall for the latest scheme.

“I wanted to be proactive in this office in case this letter does come here to Shelby County,” said Burgess. “If someone receives it in the mail, or has any questions about something they get in the mail from our office, they should call us at 901-222-7000.”

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