Convicted con man shares insights into growing crime of title theft

In a revealing interview, we talked with a convicted con man to learn more about the growing crime of title theft, which is when criminals file forged transfer documents to steal homes and property.

The FBI reports more than 11,000 U.S. property owners were swindled out of $350 million in real estate fraud in 2022.

"I committed, well up to $55 million worth of bank fraud is what I was charged with.  I committed title fraud 100 times at least," Matthew Cox told us.

"I transferred titles into other people’s names or borrowed money on other people’s houses, or satisfied mortgages on other people’s houses and refinanced those houses," he explained.

Cox was a con man, a title thief, and one of the FBI's Most Wanted until his capture in 2006.

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"I could transfer your house out of your name and place it in the name of a stolen identity, or a co-conspirator.  We could start borrowing, or we could then sell your home," he said.

After serving 13 years of a 26-year sentence, Cox was released early in 2019, under an agreement that he would educate law officers and property owners about this growing crime.  

"The moment I got the money, I would take off, stop making payments and three months later the mortgage companies would start to foreclose," Cox said.4

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He now speaks out to law enforcement, in podcasts and books, and works with Home Title Lock, one of a handful of companies that offers title monitoring and insurance against title theft.

"The crime is consistently growing, that we can see. The aftermath definitely takes a toll on the homeowners themselves. Every case is very different," said Natalie Dominguez of Home Title Lock.

Matthew Cox's story serves as a chilling alarm.


"The truth is, I’m a criminal. Most criminals suffer from anti-social disorder. I have very little empathy for other people. That’s hard to say, because I know people don’t want to hear that. They think, oh you’re a horrible person, and in a lot of ways that is true.  But it was very easy to justify these things, and I slept like a baby at night," said Cox.

You can watch more of our interview with Matthew Cox on FOX Local, a free app on your smart TV and streaming devices.

In 2023, Texas state legislators implemented a law allowing county clerks to require ID to file changes to property ownership.  And lawmakers say they'll continue to work to stop title theft.

Some county clerk offices let property owners sign up for free alerts when a title change is filed.  Harris County is not one of them.

Property owners can usually check the status of their property on a county clerk's website.

There are also private title monitoring companies that will alert you to changes filed, usually for a monthly fee starting around $20, but also provide insurance to cover the legal costs of reversing a fraudulent transfer.