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Federal, state and local officials in the Atlanta area have a new headache on their hands.  An increasing number of people are squatting in foreclosed houses, and backing up their claims with theories from the sovereign citizens movement.

The squatters operate either as full-fledged members of the sovereign citizens movement or they are part of a growing number of people who use the movement's ideology to worm their way out of a bad financial situation.

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said the last few years have seen a rise in what he called "dabblers" in the sovereign citizens movement, people he said who would "never hurt a fly" but who are looking for a way out of their economic desperation.

The squatters file phony quitclaim deeds (documents that pass interest in real estate from one person to another) and use them as "proof" they "own" the houses.  But they aren't exactly being conspicuous about it--they usually choose really big houses, often worth a million dollars.

Normally, ejecting squatters requires only a few officers.  But when the squatter is suspected of even dabbling in sovereign citizen theories, dozens more have to come in case things get violent.  And some of them have even been known to hit officers with fake lawsuits and property liens in an effort to phish for Social Security numbers.

Several big busts have been made just in the last week.  DeKalb County officials arrested five people with ties to 17 houses across the state worth about $10 million.  In Rockdale County, a couple got caught running the scam out of a house they once owned.

Here's an interesting twist--the sovereign citizen movement has roots in white supremacy.  Yet according to DeKalb County assistant DA John Melvin, all seven of the sovereign citizens he's busted are black.  They're all members of the Moorish Nation, which Potok describes as a black nationalist group with strong ties to the sovereign citizen movement.

It's not entirely surprising this has cropped up in Georgia.  The tea party movement was pretty much born here.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 02:14 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  phony quitclaims (6+ / 0-)

    have been around far longer than the Teapartiers.  Some low lifes tricked a mentally handicapped aunt of mine into signing one giving her house to them  back in the 1980s.  We had to go to court to get it thrown out.  So it doesn't surprise me that Tea Party low lifes are trying the same thing.

  •  we have had 2 of them arrested in Montana (6+ / 0-)

    for moving into people's houses.  They are odd people that's for sure!

    "If you don't do it this year you'll be another year older when you do"-Warren Miller

    by fishgirl26 on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 02:40:46 PM PDT

  •  Moorish nation, huh? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    millwood, Lujane, commonmass

    I wonder what the anti-Mosquers would think about that?

    The next OneCare Happy Hour will be 8/27/10
    Tolerance is only a way-station to acceptance.

    by Pris from LA on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 03:32:01 PM PDT

  •  SPLC had several articles (5+ / 0-)

    about the Sovereign Citizens - including the dad and son who killed the police in Memphis.

    One of the links.

    "The joy of activity is the activity itself, not some arbitrary goal which, if not achieved, steals the joy." ~John "the Penguin" Bingham

    by sheddhead on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 04:19:42 PM PDT

  •  Something Different (0+ / 0-)

    I hadn't heard a word about this. Thankx for the heads up.

    (I wonder if they make good neighbors)(peeks out at the vacant houses next door....)

    I'm the person your mother warned you about.

    by Unique Material on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 05:44:36 PM PDT

  •  We need more white people in jail. (0+ / 0-)

    If this helps us redress the obvious racial disparities in our prison population, I'm all for it.

    Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

    by Rich in PA on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:15:07 PM PDT

  •  " All seven arrested... are black" (0+ / 0-)

    That is pretty f*&^ up. This whole movement is a disgrace, but the fact that the GA cops have only selectively gone after the black squatter makes it even more of a disgrace.

    •  Article isn't talking about squatters generally (0+ / 0-)

      it's only talking about squatters who are filing fraudulent quit claim deeds.  The seven perpetrators of this particular crime in the Atlanta area happened to be black apparently.  Your claim of some sort of racial bias on the part of law enforcement here has no foundation.

  •  There's a surplus of vacant housing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that the present owners have decided to allow to fall down rather than sell or rent it out. There should be a social responsibility that goes along with owning housing stock. They removed it forcibly from the previous owners, they should keep it maintained or risk losing it. Squatting is a natural byproduct of keeping housing stock vacant.

    "Too big to fail" is not too big to jail.

    by Angela Quattrano on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:17:54 PM PDT

  •  Ahhh, the wonderful Quit Claim Deed, a product of (0+ / 0-)

    bankers' greed. What goes around, comes around.

    Back in the early 1900s, pre depression period, the local banks didn't make home loans like they do today. The terms were much shorter and really quite abrupt re total payoff.

    Long story, short, the banks started making longer loan terms and they had to foreclose in order to get he collateral back whenever someone defaulted on a loan.

    Naturally banks didn't like the cost of foreclosing so the attorneys created the aformentioned Quit Claim Deed. Sign right here and move. Very little cost.

    Anyone involved in real estate investing during the past 50 - 75 years has made good use of the Quit Claim Deed.

    As I was taught many years ago, anything that can cause good can cause harm. Too damn bad for the banks.

    Actually with all the attention jingle mail is getting of late more home owners under water should learn all they can about the Quit Claim Deed.

    Instead of mailing in the keys, one might look into the benefits accorded the usage inherent to the Quit Claim Deed.

    For example, know any one you really don't like? Maybe someone that caused you harm? Give it to them by Quit Claim Deed. Fill it out, notarize it and record the document. Then sit back and watch, listen to the crying. It can be a lott of fun if properly done.

    Another note, I have used the Quit Claim Deed to negate a prepayment clause, a very satisfying thing.

    NOP - pronounced nope. The NOP party. The NO Party = NOP. BTW, Boner from Ohio still sucks.

    by 0hio on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:22:05 PM PDT

    •  I don't know where you got your info... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but you are highly misinformed in almost every statement you make here.

      Quit claim deeds are not the product of foreclosing banks in the early 1900s. They've been used since our country was founded, and are quite legitimate and necessary to our system of land titles.  

      For example, know any one you really don't like? Maybe someone that caused you harm? Give it to them by Quit Claim Deed. Fill it out, notarize it and record the document. Then sit back and watch, listen to the crying. It can be a lott of fun if properly done.  

      I sincerely hope you have not done this.  Yes, it is true that you probably could cause someone by filing fraudulent deeds on their property, but you will have committed fraud in the process.  How clever is it to commit a crime to injure someone else?  If caught, it will be you who will be doing the crying behind bars, while that person you do not like will likely simply have to pay a lawyer a few hundred dollars to remedy the title.

      The other "uses" of the quit claim deed that you tout sound a lot like fraud also.  

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