Altered Deed Close Up
An altered deed of trust filed with the Los Angeles County Clerk
There is a misconception that only legitimate deeds are filed with the county clerk’s office. Once the deed is recorded the person or entity listed as the owner is holds legal title to the property. There are cases where an altered deed is filed to illegally transfer property to a thief.
In this Los Angeles County altered document case, a person made a photocopy of a legitimate property deed. The person used a sharp instrument to scrape off the lot and track number. The person used a typewriter to enter a new lot and track number then recorded the falsified deed with the county recorder. Because this was a photocopy of a legitimate deed, it had legitimate signatures and a a valid notary’s stamp. To the naked eye the deed looked valid. The person who created the altered deed did a very good job.
Methodology to discover the altered deed
At the courthouse I used a flatbed scanner to scan the deed at 800 pixels per inch (ppi). Both the front and back of the deed were scanned. When the scanned images were examined in Photoshop the details of the alterations were apparent.
Scanning the back of the page showed the impressions of the indentations made by the typewriter. See the bottom image for indentations on the altered deed. The original numbers are visible through the scan details.
Enlarging the image revealed the ink from the type writer did not sit evenly on the paper. This is because the paper fibers were damaged by removing the original numbers from the altered deed. This is seen in the top image where white areas appear in the numbers 7 and 5 and the bottom of the 0 where the comma originally was placed.