Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Homeowners Lose Homes To Crime, Bureaucracy? Why Must THEY Fix The Mess?

Creepy criminals "stole" Jennifer Merin's house
through deed fraud, and she's having terrible
trouble getting it back.  
Two items in the news recently made me ask an obvious question:

When somebody does something incredibly stupid or criminal and forces the sale of a house that was not meant to be sold, why is it the real, legit homeowner who has to clean up the mess?  

Here's the first case:

A grifter faked a deed and moved into a house in Queens that isn't his, and settled in, says the New York Post. 

The real owner of the house found out about this pretty quickly, but now it's become a struggle to evict this jerk from the house.

You'd think that as soon as everyone figured out that the grifter, Darrell Beatty, 49, and his sons, Darrell Kash Beatty, 25 and DeShaun Beatty, 22 faked the deed, it would be a simple matter of kicking them out and letting the real owner, Jennifer Morin back in.

But this crime happened in February and Morin is still struggling to get the creeps out, says the Post.

The illegal trio have stolen and/or trashed family heirlooms, such as photos, a circa-1920 bed frame, vintage suitcases and classic television sets.

Merin first figured out this was going on when the February water bill arrived, but not until May, and there was a huge spike in water usage on the bill.

She called the cops when she went to the house to find these jerks living there.  But police said nobody answered the door when they showed up, so they told her to take the matter to court.

The fake deed said Beatty bought the place from somebody named Edith Moore, but Merin's family never heard of such a person.

The Post tried to call Beatty for an explanation, but obviously he wasn't going to talk to any snooping reporters.  A reporter tried to talk to one of the sons at the house, but he refused and sicced a pit bull on the questioner.

Says the Post: "A Finance source said the case is being jointly investigated by the Queens District Attorney's office and the city sheriff, and that it 'could be part of a larger ring' of deed scammers.'

Beatty has not been charged."

Um, why has it taken so long to investigate, since the paper trail is right there and obvious, and why hasn't Beatty been charged?

You'd think it would be quick and easy to get Merin back into her house, but you'd think wrong apparently.

Since the case is still under investigation, Merin has little choice but to conduct eviction proceedings.

A judge approved the eviction earlier this year, but Beatty now claims "health problems" so the eviction was delayed.

Oh, come ON! Who cares if he has health problems? (I doubt he really does.) He committed a crime, he needs to go. His dopey sons can take care of Beatty's so-called 'health problems."

The city of New York has beefed up scrutiny of deed transfers and trained staff to flag discrepencies to detect fraud.

At least 100 deeds involving 300 properties are now being investigated as possible frauds. Which means there might be 100 Jennifer Merins out there in New York also getting screwed by criminals who are basically stealing houses.

By the way, judging from the photo in the New York Post, Merin isn't exactly the youngest lady in the world. Even more reason to be outraged. Let's torture an old woman through bureaucracy! What fun!


The second case of epic housing screw ups was in Norcross, Georgia.  
Xui Lui and her four year old daughter almost
lost their condo because she didn't pay a tax
bill the city never sent her.  

There, a woman named Xui Lui almost lost the condo where she lives with her four year old daughter. Seems she never paid a $95 tax bill a few years ago, so the city auctioned off the house.

And why didn't she pay this bill? She never knew the bill existed, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The city kept sending the bill to a nonexistent address, and the bill kept coming back to City Hall. Had she been aware of the bill, she would have paid it.

All of Lui's other, more expensive tax bills went to the correct address and she paid them all on time, and in full, so it's not like she was blowing this off.

She didn't know they were auctioning off her condo because she never received notice that it was happening. Next thing Liu knew, the house wasn't hers anymore and she was being evicted.

Luckily, reporters got wind of this, and the city of Norcross, under pain of really bad publicity, had to fix this. But of course they had to take the condo away from the people who thought they bought a condo, which must have been awkward and infuriating to them.

They are making Liu pay a $300 late fee on the tax bill. I guess the greedy city decided that due to their "largesse" of owning up to their horrible mess-up, they have to make Liu pay some how.

You'd think they'd waive the fee given the fear and worry they inflicted on Liu, but uh-uh. Gotta get that revenue no matter what.

I have a suggestion for the city of Norcross. If you're going to auction off somebody's house, maybe you can tell them in advance? In person? And maybe get tax bill addresses right?


Modal Trigger
Jennifer Merin looks at some of her possessions that were dumped in her garage of her family home.Photo: Helayne Seidman
A Finance source said that the case is being jointly investigated by the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the city sheriff and that it “could be part of a larger ring” of deed scammers.
Beatty has not been charged.
he extraordinary theft has jolted city bureaucrats.
“That case is what changed the dynamic in the Department of Finance of how we process deed transfers,” city Sheriff Joseph Fucito, whose office executes evictions and probes deed fraud, told The Post.
For years, filing a fake deed transfer was easy. The legal documents can be found online, filled out with only basic details, then stamped by a notary public.
“The old policy was designed to be customer friendly. It’s very hard to be customer friendly and super vigilant at the same time,” Fucito said.
Since the Merin case, staffers have been retrained to flag discrepancies, such as unusually low sale prices or suspect businesses, and personal information is checked against previously filed city records.
City property owners can also sign up for a new Finance Department service that alerts them if a change is made to their deed.
Since June, the new policies have red-flagged more than 500 deed transfers. While many were found to contain legitimate filing errors, at least 100 deeds impacting 300 properties are now being investigated as possible frauds, Fucito said.
Often they involve crooked attorneys and title companies, he said.
“We want to stem the tide of fraudulent filings,” the sheriff said.
With the criminal probe ongoing, Merin has little recourse but to try to evict the Beattys in court.
After Darrell Beatty failed to appear in August, a judge approved an eviction, but it was stayed last week when Beatty claimed he had health problems.
He is due back in Queens Housing Court on Tuesday.
In court documents, Darrell Beatty says he rented the house from a “Khalid Moore,” with an option to buy, and that he paid $10,000 in rent to Moore.
On Friday, The Post confronted DeShaun Beatty outside the house. He refused to answer questions, walked in and shut the door, ordering his pit bull to guard the entrance.
Through the windows, the living and dining rooms appeared mostly bare, with a few sections of modern sofas and a nearly empty bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon sitting on a shelf.
A four-tiered Baccarat crystal chandelier that Merin said had been hanging in the living room was gone.

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