Industry News

Minnesota agents accused of participating in sham businesses

First American Title settled allegations in February for $500,000

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Minnesota officials are sending enforcement letters to real estate agents alleged to have participated in sham affiliated business arrangements with First American Title Insurance Co. The letters, which follow a $500,000 Feb. 28 settlement with First American, request that the agents admit to the allegations and pay a fine in the range of $1,000 to $2,000, according to an alert posted on the Minnesota Association of Realtors' Web site. According to the alert, the agents are accused of taking kickbacks, rebates or other considerations in exchange for referring clients to the sham affiliated businesses, soliciting the sale of title insurance without a license, or failing to disclose their interest in the joint ventures. If agents refuse to admit the allegations, the letters warn that the Minnesota Department of Commerce may issue charges with potentially more severe consequences, the alert said. The alert was signed by Donald D. Smith, general counsel for the Minnesota Ass...