Q: I have worked for a title company for about two months. I needed help with my computer because it doesn't have access to the scanner. I know an independent technician and suggested calling him in to help. My boss agreed to it. While he was here, I received a call from a lender asking for the money from a closing that occurred a month ago. I wasn't aware of that closing, so I asked my boss if she knew about it. She remembered it and printed the email of the wire confirmation. I then forwarded the copy to the lender. The lender called back saying that our company sent the large sum to the wrong account.
My boss ordered the technician to leave the premises and called the police. She blatantly accused me and the technician of wire fraud regarding the transaction. She said to me, "Maybe you did it or maybe he did it, because it couldn't be a coincidence." She is accusing me without proof, which is not fair. I think she should not be allowed to do such a thing, but because I am new, she doesn't trust me. What should I do?
A: It's understandable that being accused of such a crime throws a person into chaotic thinking. A closing date is for the signing of the documents. In a "wet" closing, the mortgage lender often wires the funds the same day as the closing date. In a "dry" closing, the funds can take up to 24 to 48 hours. Mortgage lenders that immediately sell their loans to investors are subject to a maximum of 72 hours before funding.
The title company should be fully digitized, with every transaction being able to be traced to the computer used, the date and time of the transaction, and the supposed computer operator, assuming each employee has a protected password allowing the employee into the system. Ask yourself how your boss is able to immediately blame you and the technician for wire fraud without proof and why the transfer of funds would be made one month after the closing.
As a new employee — and possibly not as trained as you should have been for such a technical field — you must question whether your employer (the title company) has safeguards in place so an employee would find it difficult to commit fraud or make such a gross error. If the closing was a month ago and the lending company is just now discovering it, the entire incident seems suspicious.
If you had nothing to do with the closing a month ago, ask yourself how the technician who was briefly there to connect your computer to the scanner would gain access to the system. No one can speculate on what happened in sending the funds to the wrong party, but perhaps you should be suspicious of your boss.
The title company is responsible for the distribution of funds, so it would be up to the company's legal counsel whether it could legally demand the return of those funds.
According to The Houston Chronicle, author Phil M. Fowler writes that title companies have numerous responsibilities. They act as the shared agent for "the insurance company, the buyer, the seller, and any other parties related to a real estate transaction, such as mortgage lenders. The title company reviews title, issues insurance policies, facilitates closings, and files and records paperwork."
With such responsibilities comes specific required knowledge. Title companies are usually the closing agents in real estate transactions, which means they make sure to obtain signatures on the closing documents. They also receive and distribute payments with respect to the transaction. After all involved parties sign the documents, the title company records the deeds and mortgages in the local county land records office. Title companies also act as escrow officers that release the deed and money according to the buyer's and seller's instructions. They also issue title insurance. The documents involved in a real estate transaction are intricate and require precise numbers and information. This is not a simple job that can be turned over to a new and inexperienced employee. You should be suspicious that your boss was immediately willing to accuse you and the technician before confirming every fact surrounding the transaction. Since you are still a new employee, ask yourself if you meet the qualifications and passed required employee tests before you were hired.
Your boss remembered the exact transaction and was able to immediately pull up the paperwork, while you had no recollection of it. There are too many questions and potential coincidences to accuse anyone of committing fraud or making a gross error without looking into the facts. When you review your work experience, consider whether you were hired without the necessary experience as part of a scapegoat plan arranged by your boss.
For your protection, consult an independent and experienced legal counsel in case you are the scapegoat for a far greater fraud committed by your boss.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.
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