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Jacksonville Title Agent Defrauds Clients of Nearly $400,000 While Operating Unlicensed Real Estate Title Agency

12/14/2015

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) today announced the arrest of Kristine Ann Spahr, 41, after her alleged intentional misappropriation of nearly $400,000 in real estate escrow funds as an effort to gain personal monetary profit while she was illegally operating her Nassau and Duval county-based insurance company, Signature Title and Trust LLC.


In January of 2015, DIF received a complaint that alleged Spahr’s title agency, Signature Title and Trust, had closed a real estate transaction that listed Chicago Title Insurance Company as the policy evaluator. After looking further into the complaint, DIF established that neither Spahr nor her company had been appointed to represent or sell policies on behalf of Chicago Title.

At this time DIF, in accordance with DFS’s Division of Agents and Agency Services, moved forward with their investigation revealing that in 2014 Spahr had forfeited her title agency license as a condition to work as an agent for another title insurance company, Grace Title. While working for Grace Title, Spahr continued to illegally operate her previous company, Signature Title and Trust LLC, without the required licensing.


DIF’s investigation later revealed that on at least seven separate occasions, while illegally operating her previous company, Spahr defrauded her clients by keeping their real estate escrow funds and failing to provide her clients with the title insurance coverage in which they had paid for. Of the seven fraudulent transactions, two victim’s homes had prior mortgages that were not paid off from the escrow accounts and were facing foreclosure while unpaid federal and county tax liens were not paid off in several of the other victim’s real estate closings. In total, funds in excess of $391,000 were found to have allegedly been stolen by Spahr.


Kristine Spahr was booked into the Nassau County Jail and has been charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud, a felony of the first degree. This case will be prosecuted by the Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel of the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, and if convicted, Spahr faces up to 15 years in prison.

 
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).