Squatters, Scammers Move In on Foreclosed Homes

Increasingly, abandoned homes are being used for nefarious activity
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2008 3:30 PM CDT
Squatters, Scammers Move In on Foreclosed Homes
Prospective buyer Marcia Coleman takes a last look at the home she just viewed during the Foreclosure Bus Tour in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)

Add a new twist to the housing crisis: Squatters are increasingly using homes that have been abandoned for months, and con artists are scamming banks in “cash for keys” deals or luring people into “leasing” homes that actually are foreclosures sitting empty, Reuters reports. Authorities can have a hard time proving the squatters aren't renters—and get little help from foreclosed-on owners.

"For squatters, foreclosed homes like this are like a camp-ground with free camping," one foreclosure specialist said. Adds one detective investigating scammers who rip off lenders, "It's just cheaper for the banks to do that rather than going into the courts. The squatters are getting sophisticated and turning it on these banks who own the properties." (More foreclosures stories.)

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