Land O Lakes Real Estate News - JLS Investment Realty

Foreclosure scam busted in Pasco
February 24th, 2011 4:02 PM

LAND O' LAKES - George Ola claims he is unemployed, but lives in a neatly kept house in the upscale Connerton subdivision in Land O' Lakes.

Pasco County Sheriff's detectives say Ola is responsible for the area's latest foreclose scam.

"He was forging quit claim deeds from some houses that were foreclosed, or had no tenants in them take these deeds to the county, get the registered then rent them," according to sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

Ola was arrested after a lengthy investigation linking him to the illegal rentals of at least five homes. Investigators said his use of the quit claim deeds made him appear legitimate.

"I didn't have any issues with the deeds whatsoever," said Gary DePury, a real estate agent who realized last year he was one of Ola's apparent victims. "Quit claim deeds are there for a reason. In divorce cases, they're used, they're used from parent to child they're used all the time."

DePury began to get suspicious last summer.

"His (Ola's) pitch was that he had attorneys who were helping, and he had 100 houses that needed tenants," he said.

He was skeptical of the claim. After helping with just five properties, the rental plan began running into trouble.

"We could never get him pay bills on time when something would get fixed," DePury said.

DePury ended his relationship with Ola. His arrest was not the first foreclosure scam Pasco deputies say they broke up. Last year, Steve Bybel was arrested on similar fraud charges.

Instead of forging quit claim deeds, Bybel is accused of filing "adverse possession" claims with the Clerk of Courts. Bybel is then accused of renting the foreclosed homes on which the "adverse possession" claims were made.

"A bad economy makes people more creative," according to Greg Armstrong, with the West Pasco Board of realtors. "In our property management, as realtors, we make sure every single month we check the status of the properties we manage."

DePury said he will never be taken again.

"We have gone back and vetted every single property owner that we work for right now and made sure they legitimately own every single property," he says.

In the meantime, Pasco detectives say there could be more people renting homes from Ola with no idea they have no right to be there. Arrest records say Ola pocketd more than $30,000 worth of rent.

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Posted by Jennifer Stepanek on February 24th, 2011 4:02 PMPost a Comment

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