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Squatters in foreclosures claim deed ownership under religious sovereignty

Squatters claiming rights to foreclosed homes

Officials are seeing a rise in false claims of individuals claiming they have the right to seize foreclosed properties in North Carolina, California, and Virginia where people are living in empty foreclosure homes.

Last week, a Realtor took a couple on a tour of a $700,000 foreclosed home in North Carolina where two men had taken over the home, presented a deed with language that sounds more like wedding vows (“to have and to hold. Forever.” the deed claimed) and stated they now owned the home in the name of the Moorish Science Temple, according to the Mecklenberg Times.

Asaru A. Ali, and Kenneth W. Lewis of Charlotte, NC were subsequently arrested. Lewis was charged with breaking and entering, first-degree trespassing, obtaining property by false pretenses and possession of stolen goods and is still being held on a $500,000 bond. Ali was charged with breaking and entering and taking possession of a house without consent and has been released.

A growing national problem

Deeds are being filed by the dozen across the nation by people claiming they belong to the Moorish Science Temple of America which is a religious sect founded in 1926 based on a hybrid of Rotarian tradition and the teachings of Mohammed with branches in 15 states.

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The organization says it “does not teach nor endorse or support any ‘sovereign’ theory, or groups” but individuals falsely filing for rights on foreclosed properties in the name of the Temple claim they have sovereignty and do not answer to any governmental entity.

The Republic reports that the grand sheik of the Moorish Science Temple in Charlotte said his group is not affiliated with any effort to seize vacant properties and that these individuals that are not part of the organization are perverting the faith’s teachings to their own benefit.

Mecklenburg County’s register of deeds, J. David Granberry tells WBTV that at least 200 deeds and other documents filed in his office in the name of the Moorish Science Temple are “outright fraud.”

Warning to Realtors

No violence has been reported in any case of these individuals claiming rights to foreclosed homes, but the real estate community should be alert to the possibility of people inside foreclosure listings that believe they own the property.

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  1. Tina merritt

    July 11, 2011 at 5:06 am

    If they "don't answer to any government entity", then all we need to do is declare war on them and send some Seals in to take care of the enemy.

  2. Sig

    July 11, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Wow! Why didn't I think of that. Start a fight between the church and the banks. That would break the humdrum dog days of summer. What with all the foreclosures dragging down the market, we could turn things around in a month if everyone claimed just one house.

  3. Pat Hallesy

    July 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Maybe the banks should sell them a little faster so that nobody has the opportunity to squat.

  4. Joe Loomer

    July 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Truth is stranger than fiction.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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