Bob Butman said he recently got a letter in the mail that made him nervous. On the top, it reads “official court document,” and lists his address and property information.
“And that immediately got my attention,” the Sunny Isles Beach resident said.
The letter is from a company called National Certified Record Retrieval Service and says it provides certified deeds to homeowners for $56.50.
“They are suggesting I get a certified copy of my deed,” Butman said.
County workers say homeowners typically don’t need paper because they can view the deed online.
“In this day and age, the property owner doesn’t necessarily need a certified anything,” said Jeannie Terwilliger, a manager in the Broward County Records Department.
But if for some reason, you want one, it only costs a few dollars as Patricia Hoetzlein found out. When she went to the County Records Department, the deed cost her just $3.
Butman characterizes most of the language in the letter he received this way.
“This is all verbiage intended to scare people into doing something, into sending money,” Butman said.
Fortunately for Butman, he read the letter carefully, including a disclosure on the second page that says the company is not a government agency.
Butman felt the intent of the letter was to mislead and he filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office. So did 26 others and now the AG’s office is investigating those complaints.
Bladismir Rojo is a U.S. Postal Inspector.
“This letter to me is a very slick attempt to try to get someone to pay for a service they don’t really need,” Rojo said.
A company with almost the same name called Florida Certified Record Retrieval was also offering copies of deeds for $50. The Better Business Bureau gave it an “F” rating and the company shut down in 2013.
Roger Averbuj, a licensed realtor, was president of Florida Certified Record Retrieval.
Both companies direct customers to the same postal box and both are linked to an email address belonging to Averbuj.
NBC6 Investigators tried to reach Averbuj by phone, by email, at his office, at his real estate office in Davie and at his home in hopes of asking him about both companies. He did not respond.
Consumers should remember that government agencies never solicit fees for services.
If you want to file a complaint with the state for a solicitation you feel was misleading, you can call (866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting www.myfloridalegal.com. Click on “File a Complaint” under “Quick Links.”