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Ransomware attack leaves Jackson County with missing property records | #ransomware | #cybercrime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – If you live in Jackson County, your property deed or title may have gone missing.

Due to the ongoing fallout of the county’s cyber-attack, the Jackson County Executive’s Office confirmed they are missing “a limited number of documents recorded on April 1.” This has had an impact on the real estate business as some title insurance agents argue the damage is even worse.

For weeks, Todd Lynch, who underwrites title insurance in Jackson Co., has not been able to locate essential records for real estate transactions.

“Pretty much anything that was recorded after 8:00 a.m. on March 29th through the end of the day on April 1st is gone,” Lynch notes.

With gaps in this database, Lynch says he’s unable to ensure no tax liens or other unknown documents exist which puts homeowners and borrowers at risk of legal trouble when they buy, sell or refinance property.

“If I’m trying to give you a clear title, I’m not able to see a document that might affect your title,” Lynch says. “We can’t say for sure that you’ve got no additional open mortgages or deeds of trust on your property because we don’t know if one got recorded by April 1st.”

At the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Ryan West oversees research focused on cybersecurity through the Missouri Institute of Defense and Energy. He explains why records like these could have been the target for hackers.

“They directly affect the municipality’s income streams,” West explained. “So, all of these property records are what praise taxes. These [hackers] are going after those revenue streams knowing it’s putting a real pain on their targets.”

Lynch walked us through Jackson County’s Recorder of Deeds Public Records Portal. He showed us the last certified document you can find on March 28th before the system went down. But when you search for the very next document in numerical order by instrument number, it shows zero records found until you go 359 pages further.

“To me it lets them know they were successful when they did that attack,” Lynch believes. “I think this opens everything up for fraud.”

We reached out to Jackson County Executive Frank White’s Office who stated:

Only a limited number of documents recorded on April 1 are currently unavailable due to ongoing recovery efforts following a ransomware attack. Our IT department is working diligently with our vendor to restore these documents as swiftly as possible.”

They also encourage any stakeholders or insurance companies to contact their offices for assistance and added:

“The ransomware attack disrupted our systems and affected the update of the Permanent Record for documents recorded on April 1. We are actively recovering the affected documents and are in regular communication with title businesses and insurance agents to minimize any disruptions. Any title companies, individuals who filed a property on April 1, or anyone with concerns can contact the Recorder’s Office directly for assistance.”

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