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Behind the Story: How KSHB-Kansas City uncovered a trail of dirty deeds

Video by Ryan Kath and John Woods, KSHB

KSHB-Kansas City’s year-long investigation into a widespread real estate fraud scheme started simple – with a tip from an observant neighbor.

But when reporter Ryan Kath started looking into the housing documents, he spotted a bigger problem. Someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living and the dead. Often, Kath found, the homeowners had no idea.

It’s a crime that’s “shockingly easy,” and little oversight was in place to keep it from happening. The dirty deeds forced victims to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to fix the damage caused by one phony signature.

Trail of Dirty Deeds” was a finalist for the 2013 IRE Awards. The station’s reporting also prompted state lawmakers to file bills that could address the problem.

In this "Behind the Story" video, Kath explains how he pieced together the story, including how he translated the document-heavy reporting into something that worked for television.

Participate in "Behind the Story"

In addition to the written "Behind the Story" pieces IRE publishes on its blog, we've started working with radio and broadcast journalists to share submitted audio and video pieces on our site.

Behind the Story features are designed to take readers inside the watchdog reporting process – a long-term investigative project, a breaking news investigation, a CAR story or any other news that involved some digging. Reporters watching, listening or reading these pieces should be able to gain inspiration for future stories and a tip or two to apply to their reporting.

If you'd like to film, record or write a Behind the Story piece for IRE, please contact IRE Web Editor Sarah Hutchins at

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