Even under the best of circumstances buying a house can be a complicated process with pitfalls and landmines to be encountered every step of the way.
It’s that much worse when you are dealing with a ruthless gang of criminals.
That was the situation a couple of years ago in Southern California where a group of swindlers was raking in millions of dollars in proceeds from unsuspecting buyers by selling houses that didn’t belong to them.
They posed as the real owners long enough to collect the money. Then they dispersed the cash far and wide so that by the time the victims realized what had happened, there was no chance at all of recovering their losses.
Deeds were forgeries
The conspirators went so far as to create fake deeds to make it look like the real property owners had transferred the title to one of their fake companies. The deeds were forgeries, of course, and the real owners had not transferred anything to anyone.
By having the deeds recorded along with other documents at a county office, it all looked quite official and legal.
The schemers have admitted selling or trying to sell at least 13 homes in this fashion and actually took in more than $3 million.
When the true homeowners caught on to what was happening and tried to regain title to their property, in some cases the conspirators continued fighting them in court with more forged documents.
Many of the homes involved in the ongoing scam were actually owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which are government-funded entities designed to make the U.S. housing market friendly to consumers.
Taxpayers foot the bill
Undoubtedly the crooks saw a chance to enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense. Nothing new there. It goes on every day, with programs like Medicare and Medicaid being preferred targets.
One of the leaders of the housing con was nabbed at the last minute at Los Angeles International Airport as he prepared to board an airplane for a flight to his home country of Norway. His sentencing is scheduled for sometime on September 2015.
Government programs that are supposed to help people in need are fine and dandy, but our leaders in Washington must keep in mind that thieves will try to take advantage. They need to make sure that adequate security measures are in place to stop that from happening.