Although this story originates in Detroit, it is instructive as to this kind of potential real estate actions against homes occurring in every state.
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner says “It’s theft,” in describing how operators set up corporate names and find homes that are behind on tax payments. They pay some of the past-due property taxes, then foreclose and put the homes up for auction. So far, at least 50 homes have had their ownership status put into jeopardy by these actions.
Meisner further said that this is a repeat of a scam that occurred in Wayne County 10 years ago. “Our system of property rights in this country is a very basic underpinning of our society,” he said. “Senior citizens, people with disabilities, some of the more vulnerable are really, really at risk.”
One military veteran managed to save his home that Consolidated Brokers’ Pool was trying to take title to through the court system. He was fortunate in that Oakland County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Brown and other County officials persuaded Oakland County Circuit Judge Nanci Grant to rule against Consolidated. Lisa Brown was quoted as saying “They are stealing homes. They’re committing a fraud on the court.” (Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press) And “Consolidated Brokers’ Pool LLC accrued NO legal interest in the subject property.”
Consolidated Brokers’ Pool is owned by Sherman Pegross, a 45-year old Detroit man who has served time in federal prison and has a criminal record of arrests and convictions for theft, credit card fraud and other offenses.
Other homeowners are fighting the liens placed against their homes, many by Consolidated or other entities operated by Pegross. Yet to date, nobody has been charged with a crime.
For his part, Pegross says, “The treasurer likes to make me out to be the monster simply because he doesn’t want me to do what I’m doing because sometimes I help myself, sometimes I help the (homeowner). But when I help myself or that person, it means he didn’t sell it at auction. He’s mad about that.”
In the meantime, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette published an opinion last year that anyone paying taxes on a property he or she doesn’t own is simply making a gift and earns no rights to the property.
Read the original article in the Detroit Free Press.