Some homeowners in Missouri are falling prey to a growing problem in the state: The filing of improper liens and other documents, WDAF-TV reported.
The latest victims are people living in a quiet Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhood.
For years, they received collection notices from a fake neighborhood homeowners association, WDAF-TV reported. Homeowners ignored the notices, dismissing them as fake and a scam.
But it became a very real problem when homeowner Tony Navarro learned just before Christmas that the association filed a $445 lien against his home and more than 30 others, the TV station reported.
As it turned out, the bills were coming from the fake Summerfield Homeowners Association, which has a telephone number but no board members nor proof of any services it provides.
Still, the liens went through, and it's not the first time it has happened.
The owners of a $4 million mansion in St. Louis went to court to prevent a woman from “filing a fake quit claim deed from taking possession of their home," WDAF-TV reported.
What is being done about it?
Republican state Rep. Kirk Mathews told the TV station he was shocked to learn about the practice.
“I was stunned,” Mathews said. “I did not know this practice existed.”
He since learned that it's happening because counties lack the proper staffing to verify every claim.
“They are just stamping it, stamping it, and it’s filed and done,” he said.
Mathews is now sponsoring legislation to make filing fake documents a felony.
“Hopefully, this bill will provide some real teeth for law enforcement to go after the people who are doing this.”
Who is behind the scam?
KDAF-TV tracked down the alleged "owner" of the fake homeowners association, Al Roberts to a federal prison, where he serving time for $3 million in mortgage fraud. Roberts sent out the notices and is allegedly continuing to run his business from behind prison walls, a relative told KDAF-TV. Roberts' attorney denies that allegation.
The homeowners were able to get the liens dismissed with help from the TV station and an attorney. Neighbors told WDAF-TV they are concerned that there is nothing currently in place to stop it from happening again.