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  1. #1
    Gladys's Avatar
    Gladys is online now Senior Member
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    Default 4 charged for 'stealing houses' in Philadelphia

    4 charged for 'stealing houses' in Philadelphia | 6abc.com

    Investigators say the men would forge documents for uninhabited properties and transfer the ownership away from the rightful owner.

    The properties were then often sold to innocent purchasers, the D.A. said. In many of those cases, the properties were sold for just one dollar.

    The men face a number of charges including Criminal Conspiracy, Theft, Forgery and Tampering with Public Records.

    The properties involved are:

    1120 S Clifton Street
    1931 Dickinson Street
    1428 S. Colorado Street
    1527 S. Dorrance Street
    1447 Bancroft Street
    2029 Beechwood Street
    1631 Mole Street
    1408 S. Chadwick Street
    24 N. Paxon Street
    1534 S. Dorrance Street
    1011 Brandywine Street
    1026 Brandywine Street
    714 S. 11th Street
    1258 S. 22nd Street
    1428 S. 24th Street
    1325 N. Franklin Street
    1835 S 19th Street
    1422 S. 22nd Street
    1622 S. Carlisle Street
    2213 Kimball Street
    2404 W. Lehigh Ave
    1927 Fernon Street
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  2. #2
    annie's Avatar
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    Ex-police commissioner’s son charged in house-stealing scheme

    Steven Johnson, 49, of Northeast Philadelphia, a former SEPTA police lieutenant who later worked for the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office, was charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, and related offenses.

  3. #3
    StrangeTanks's Avatar
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    This is barely news. Been going on for as long as I've been an investor about 12 years now. The funny thing is, it's still super easy to steal properties.

    There's an easy fix too. If the city would get off it's butt and take delinquent tax properties off to sheriff's sale in a timely manner there wouldn't be an opportunity for people to pull this crap.

  4. #4
    walnuthill is offline Senior Member
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    I was disappointed to see that our friend Dwayne Stewart of D Stewart Construction LLC wasn't on the list. Hopefully he's next.

  5. #5
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    Back in about 2006 I had someone try to sell me a house they had stolen. My title company found discrepancies in the previous transfer of real estate. When I looked up copies of the previous deeds, it was super obvious that the signatures had been forged, there wasn't even an effort made to make the new signatures look like the previous ones. I then found the previous owner who was a 70 year old woman that lived around the corner. Apparently, they tried to extort her into selling the property using threats of violence then simply went ahead and forged the paperwork.

    I called the DA's office to report it and was told they do not prosecute real estate fraud. Completely bored and uninterested response.

  6. #6
    Naveen is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    The properties were then often sold to innocent purchasers, the D.A. said. In many of those cases, the properties were sold for just one dollar.
    I wonder what their motivation was to sell a property for one dollar? If the purchasers were not involved then it couldn't be some "title laundering" reason. Also, looks like many of these are in PB/Newbold.

  7. #7
    Politburo is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naveen View Post
    I wonder what their motivation was to sell a property for one dollar? If the purchasers were not involved then it couldn't be some "title laundering" reason. Also, looks like many of these are in PB/Newbold.
    Tax evasion would be my guess, with the actual purchase price being some other value. I doubt the buyers are 100% innocent.. legally innocent via willful ignorance, perhaps, but I have a hard time believing that anyone could purchase a property for $1 and not suspect something was up.

  8. #8
    JakeL is online now Senior Member
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    Just geocoded the addresses if you're curious about where all the properties are. As was mentioned earlier, most are in Point Breeze.

    Stolen Properties

  9. #9
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    Dollar deed transfer.

    Usually the buyers are pretty naive. Seller sits them down somewhere and explains that they can avoid transfer tax by claiming to be a relative who is transferring title into their name. Keep in mind these are usually properties in shell condition that are in poor neighborhoods.

    Usually its a cash transaction on the side after that.

    One of the more sophisticated ones I heard about was actually pretty ingenious. Woman finds a vacant property and looks up the owner. Forges a death certificate and a document declaring her the executor of the estate. Goes to city hall and files all the documents. Sells the property to a developer. Meanwhile the actual owner was in a nursing home and the family never found out about it until she passed away and there was already a death certificate on file with the city. When I heard about it, the family was in litigation with the developer to get the property back. Meanwhile, title insurance only covers the purchase price, which in the case of abandoned properties is usually quite low.

  10. #10
    daninpa is offline Cheesesteak GURU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by walnuthill View Post
    I was disappointed to see that our friend Dwayne Stewart of D Stewart Construction LLC wasn't on the list. Hopefully he's next.
    I was thinking the same thing. I feel his turn will be coming soon.

  11. #11
    sharkey is offline Senior Member
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    Just imagine how many times this happens and never comes to light.

  12. #12
    bootsywannabe is offline Banned
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    Sylvester Johnson's son apparently, and a former police officer. He (the son) better not be getting a pension after this gets worked out, if he is convicted. Pretty sad statement about corruption among our political class in Philly.

  13. #13
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    Well...I'm getting to the point in this city...if you can't beat em...join em...

    Here's how ya do it...

    Step 1: Identify a property and look up the names of the owners. If you want to be super safe, check out the address on the record. If its out of date your in the clear.
    Step 2: Download yourself a deed transfer form. Pennsylvania Special - Limited Warranty Deed from Individual to Individual
    Step 3: Purchase a notary stamp. The city no longer requires the one that makes the paper imprint. Notary Stamps at Office Depot. Just make up some name and order the stamp, they don't really check.
    Step 3: Sign and date and stamp.
    Step 4: Bring it to room 111 at city hall, fee is $230. Congrats, your the new owner of a house. The city doesn't require you to file city transfer tax documents, settle up on leins or file title paperwork when you record a deed, so don't worry about that stuff
    Optional:
    Step 5: File corporation docs and DBA docs with the state. They have fast track forms and usually don't require any ID, SS numbers or notarized documents. Pa is an easy state to set up shell companies. Usually you only need a legitimate address for state documents to arrive at. Just a few fees and your incorporated. Even better if you transfer the property into a trust, but I've never done that so I couldn't tell you how.
    Step 6: Repeat steps 1-4 into a second entity.
    Step 7: Sell property.

    After a single deed transfer, the DA and city law enforcement becomes so confused that its practically impossible to get caught.

  14. #14
    Eastcoast is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrangeTanks View Post
    Well...I'm getting to the point in this city...if you can't beat em...join em...

    Here's how ya do it...

    Step 1: Identify a property and look up the names of the owners. If you want to be super safe, check out the address on the record. If its out of date your in the clear.
    Step 2: Download yourself a deed transfer form. Pennsylvania Special - Limited Warranty Deed from Individual to Individual
    Step 3: Purchase a notary stamp. The city no longer requires the one that makes the paper imprint. Notary Stamps at Office Depot. Just make up some name and order the stamp, they don't really check.
    Step 3: Sign and date and stamp.
    Step 4: Bring it to room 111 at city hall, fee is $230. Congrats, your the new owner of a house. The city doesn't require you to file city transfer tax documents, settle up on leins or file title paperwork when you record a deed, so don't worry about that stuff
    Optional:
    Step 5: File corporation docs and DBA docs with the state. They have fast track forms and usually don't require any ID, SS numbers or notarized documents. Pa is an easy state to set up shell companies. Usually you only need a legitimate address for state documents to arrive at. Just a few fees and your incorporated. Even better if you transfer the property into a trust, but I've never done that so I couldn't tell you how.
    Step 6: Repeat steps 1-4 into a second entity.
    Step 7: Sell property.

    After a single deed transfer, the DA and city law enforcement becomes so confused that its practically impossible to get caught.
    You should do this (with a property owners permission) film it documentary (think Morgan Spurlock infill) style and toss it on youtube. You personally would change the whole system inside of 2 months.

    I'd put up $100 on kickstarter.

  15. #15
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    Not a bad idea!!!

    Wouldn't be a bad idea to suggest this for the eminent domain stuff that going on in Philly right now too. I can imagine a lot of hidden video footage making national news.

  16. #16
    misterme369 is offline Junior Member
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    Exclamation

    This is a huge problem in Kensington with all the squatters making all kind of trouble in the neighborhood.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrangeTanks View Post
    Back in about 2006 I had someone try to sell me a house they had stolen. My title company found discrepancies in the previous transfer of real estate. When I looked up copies of the previous deeds, it was super obvious that the signatures had been forged, there wasn't even an effort made to make the new signatures look like the previous ones. I then found the previous owner who was a 70 year old woman that lived around the corner. Apparently, they tried to extort her into selling the property using threats of violence then simply went ahead and forged the paperwork.

    I called the DA's office to report it and was told they do not prosecute real estate fraud. Completely bored and uninterested response.
    Veering off topic, the DA's office under Seth Williams isn't interested in crime victims either. In hindsight, I never would have chosen to prosecute.

 

 

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