Grifter steals dead peoples' houses in gentrifying Philadelphia by forging deed transfers, then flipping them

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/28/william-ernest-johnson-iii.html

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#2

This feels like a playbook for mischief :frowning:

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#3

Welcome to the greatest country on Earth.

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#4

That’s the real estate biz!

I hope no one involved with real estate is ever elected president.

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#5

The answer to the question you immediately ask when you start reading the article:

Johnson’s nonchalance aside, the transactions have upset neighbors, spawned lawsuits from the families of aggrieved “sellers,” and sparked inquiries, but no charges, from the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office.

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#6

Pennsylvania does not require that notaries capture a thumbprint when notarizing a document.

Well there’s your problem. Out in the 'burbs, the County Clerk whips out a magnifying glass to count those arches and whorls. Fraud is near zero!

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#7

But these houses are going to be returned to their rightful owner, and title insurance is going to pay out to the scam victims who bought a house from someone who didn’t legally own it, right?

Ha ha, of course non, title insurance is just another real estate scam.

Seriously, as bad as this is, the real estate industry is full of legal, or even legally protected scammers and grifters, as anyone who has purchased a house and paid attention to all the random fees that show up can attest.

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#8

Make America Grift Again.

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#9

Are you sure this isn’t just a Wells Fargo executive interview?

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#10

Unverifiable anecdote:

I knew a man, some years ago, who told me various stories about his experiences in the criminal underworld of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.

He told me that he had personal knowledge of cases where corrupt police officers became aware of situations where old people without friends or relatives had died in their homes without the death becoming general knowledge. Supposedly the corrupt police passed along the names and addresses of the deceased to criminals who fraudulently transferred ownership of the houses.

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#11

Won’t this run into problems when the new buyer does a title check? Isn’t this the entire purpose of a title check? I mean we’re paying for these these checks, it seems like they should be doing their job.

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#12

This is grand larceny, right? Even if the people subsequently in possession of the homes (the flippers and the later buyers) didn’t know they were receiving stolen goods, surely they’re not allowed to keep them and it should be up to them and their lawyers to get their money back from the flippers, and the flippers from the thief.

Wouldn’t the properties revert to the estates of the rightful owners? The whole point of estates is to provide legal standing for the property of the deceased, to in effect give the dead legal property rights.

Or is real estate law so fucked up that someone can receive stolen real property and keep it?

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#13

That could never happen.

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#14

Is it happening now?

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#15

Oh, I forgot about that orange pustule the Russian President of the US, Donny Two Berderers…

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#16

On paper the title is “clean”. It’s only if somebody with a legitimate claim shows up and raises a fuss that the fraud is discovered. So if the perps pick the properties carefully the risk is minimal.

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#17

I clicked the link thinking it was another Wells Fargo scheme.

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#18

This is so true. Just closed on a property and the closing statement listed a few fees that were just clearly made up. A $400 Appraisal Review fee? Who’s getting paid $400 to spend 15 minutes reviewing an appraisal to make sure that it appraised at the sale price? Three of the fees went away once I asked about them, but the first time I bought a house I didn’t know enough to ask about anything.

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#19

What’s worse is that they aren’t just targeting dead people…

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#20

A few years ago, I watched a 60- minutes-style
news story about this scam.
That was my first thought, too…
that it was a Training Course/How To
Video for the crooks.
Similar to the How To shows like
Forensic Files, etc.

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