4

In the mishna B"M 1:6, it talks about finding a loan document with a lien on real property ("achrayus"), and not returning it, because we are afraid that the borrower and the lender are in cahoots to defraud a third party ("purchaser") who purchased the encumbered land from the borrower.

How did this actually work in practice? Was there any means for doing a title background check to make sure that land was not mortgaged? Did the purchaser get any documentation about the sale? Why do we care that the document was lost and then found? if the borrower and lender wanted to defraud the purchaser, they could do so even without "losing" the document first.

4

Even if such a database existed, in the case of the Gemara it would not have helped the purchaser. The Gemara (12b) sets up the concern of this case to be that the document was written, but then not given to the borrower until later, in which case a purchase made between the time it was written and the time it was given would in reality not be subject to the lien, but the loan document would imply that it is. (However, there is a second explanation brought in the Gemara - 13b)

In any event, the impression I have gotten is that there was no formal documentation or registry of these kinds of things (liens). The fact that a buyer was expected to know about a lien is only because of the "kol" - the tumult that is created by the sale.

In answer to your final question, the Gemara (12b) asks that very question:

אי הכי כל שטרי דאתו לקמן ניחוש להו הכי כל שטרי לא ריעי הני ריעי

Q: If so, we should suspect all documents of this! A: All documents are not suspicious

Rashi

הני ריעי - הואיל ונפל אתרע דיש לומר אם היה כשר היה נזהר בו:

Since the borrower dropped the document, the document is under suspicion, since if the document were valid, the borrower would have been more careful with the document.

So we are concerned that the borrower dropped the document because the borrower knew the document wasn't valid.

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