I wrote a few weeks ago about some of the criminal opportunities presented by vacant property, particularly bank-owned properties that aren’t closely watched.
So here’s another angle — not a new one, but perhaps getting a new life: Claiming title to property by virtue of being a member of some organization not subject to the courts or constitution. In this variation reported by the Washington Post, a man claimed to be a “Moorish National,” and occupied a luxurious mansion in Bethesda, Maryland for a few hours. The Moorish National trend is growing, but it’s not the only group whose members file false liens or false title paperwork and take unauthorized possession of real estate.
In 2010, a Lake County, Montana jury convicted a transient who took over a foreclosed house, changed the locks, and filed paperwork claiming he had purchased the property from Yahweh. The scam came to light when a Polson real estate agent, who had the listing for the lender, tried to get into the property and discovered the locks had been changed. He then uncovered a trail of strange paperwork, leading prosecutors to file criminal charges for theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information. The account in the Billings Gazette includes links to other stories of the man’s odd behavior, his outbursts in court and resulting mental evaluation, his insistence on representing himself, and other schemes.
You can’t make this stuff up — but you can use it!