Lewis County and the $12 Check

Posted June 7th, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

Can you imagine what happens to me?

Dear Rob,

Don’t know if you realize this or not, so just a heads up – you can lose your home in Lewis County, WA, for $12 bucks.

I kid you not.

Earlier this year, with the Lewis County tax sale approaching fast, we sent off a $1,000+ cashiers check for the unpaid taxes and foreclosure costs, along with a deed that documented our ownership, and a check for $12 to pay the title transfer fees.

That was a Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we called to confirm receipt. FEDEX tracking documented our package was received, and the gal at the Treasurer’s office said she’d check on it and get back to us that afternoon because it wasn’t yet on her desk.

She never did call.

The System

We have a system in place when it comes to paying taxes on tax foreclosure properties, and after the FEDEX tracking step, our next step is calling to confirm receipt and determine there are no problems with the paperwork.

This is a critically important step because believe it or not, county clerks will return checks and documents with something as meaningless as a typo, even with foreclosure a day away.

I know, it’s unbelievable and you may not realize it even happens, but it does more often than you can imagine.

“Do we return the paperwork because he forgot to initial here and just foreclose?”

I kid you not, they can and they do.

It’s like there’s no consideration for what is of consequence and what is not, and trust me here . . . losing your property, on the one hand, or allowing paperwork to go through with an uncrossed “t,” do not register on the same scale of consequence.

But I digress

Back to the Lewis County Treasurer . . .

We called again Thursday morning, leaving a message.

We called again Thursday afternoon, only to be told there was indeed a problem. The deed we’d over-nighted wasn’t an original but a copy. My assistant somehow mistook the copy for the original and sent the wrong one.

The clerk told us to immediately bring in the original deed but that wasn’t possible with the time remaining (we had a couple hours, and the county being 100 miles away, that would be pushing it).

Not a lot of options

Had she simply called like she’d promised the day before, we could have driven it over and called it lunch. And had she called in the morning, when we’d left the first message, we’d have had time to drive it over this very afternoon.

But she didn’t call, and that meant we didn’t have a lot of options.

No problem, I thought, we’ll just overnight the original deed.

I immediately called the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney and left a message, letting him know that I was displeased with the treasurer’s lack of action, that we’d just now learned of the problems and that, to correct the matter, we’d over-nighted the proper paperwork.


Not hardly.

Certified funds required

We also learned from the clerk on that Thursday afternoon call that Lewis County requires certified funds for the transfer fees. Lewis County, it turns out, is the ONLY county that requires certified funds, and frankly, I question their right to do that.

And if it was such a big deal, why hadn’t they called yesterday, when we’d have plenty of time to run out and get a $12 certified check?

At the very least, they could have called us first thing in the morning to let us know of the silly problem with the check.

And, learning a $12 check might present a problem, I called the county prosecutor, having no choice but to leave yet another voice mail, something along these lines . . .

“This is Joe Kaiser and I’m hoping someone with a little common sense will make sure my property isn’t sold at auction tomorrow morning. We’ve sent you certified funds for the taxes and foreclosure costs, and we’ve just now over-nighted the original deed so it can be properly recorded. If there’s a problem with my $12 check, let me know and we’ll be happy to send in certified funds, but I can’t imagine this is an actual problem.”

Zero common sense

And bright and early Friday morning they got my original deed and foreclosed on my property.

The problem?

That stupid $12 check!

Apparently, it was too big a risk to chance our business check, and rather than do so, they’d sent back our $12 check AND the $1,000+ cashiers on Thursday (unbeknownst to us), so when my deed showed up on Friday, there weren’t any checks.

And instead of exercising any sort of discretion or common sense, they foreclosed my property away.

The consequences ratio

Rob, let’s step back for a moment and weigh the consequences here . . .

The risks associated with taking a chance on my $12 check?

I suggest, not such a big deal, $12 bucks, tops.

Rejecting my $12 check and foreclosing on my property?

Yeah, like that’s even a close call.

morons among us

What sort of moron would foreclose on a property over a $12 non-certified check?

The Lewis County treasurer and Prosecuting Attorney would seem to be good candidates, but I’ll defer to your judgment on the moron part.

Role reversal

Now, question for you and your investigative staff.

Let’s for a moment say the roles are somehow skewed and it wasn’t the Lewis County Treasurer doing the foreclosing but instead, it was me.

And let’s further say it wasn’t me getting my ass foreclosed on, but some seller I’d done a deal with who’s property now hung in the balance.

Rob, what happens to me when I foreclose away someone’s interest because their $12 personal accept wasn’t acceptable because, you see, silly me, I require certified funds?


Can you imagine what happens to me if I pull a stunt like this?

Can you imagine the claims of fraud, deception, unfair acts, foreclosure rescue scam, and on and on and on your office brings forward?

Apparently, it’s okay and perfectly normal for the county to take someone’s property over the lack of a $12 cashier’s check, but I pull a stunt like that and you’re back to issuing press releases about my latest scam and I’m on the front page of every foreclosure scam website on the internet.

I lost my property in the Lewis County tax sale this year, Rob, because of a $12 non-certified check, and I think that’s insane.

I may have screwed up a time or two in my day, but I never stole someone’s property like Lewis County did over a $12 non-certified check.


Joe Kaiser

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