Recently a scammer made headlines in Kansas City, Missouri for filing liens that came from the made up homeowners association, Summerfield Homeowners Association. According to a story from Kansas City news station WDAF, homeowners were surprised to see their property liened by an association that provided no services, had no board and a bogus phone number.
WDAF reports the person behind the association is actually an inmate at a federal prison. Al Roberts, who denies the accusations, is a former teacher serving time for $3 million in mortgage fraud.
Allegedly, Roberts has been sending fake bills and collection notices to homeowners from behind bars for years. The report says the manager listed for the HOA is a woman who doesn’t live in the neighborhood, but filed the liens on the association’s behalf.
More than 30 homeowners were slapped with a $445 lien after ignoring those bills and collections notices from the fake association for years, saying they had assumed they were scams. Unfortunately, those homeowners had to hire an attorney to get the liens removed.
The good news for the homeowners is that the liens have been dismissed, but they’re still concerned that there is nothing to prevent this from happening again.
Apparently, it’s pretty easy to file a lien against someone’s property because those doing the recordings, as in many most municipalities, are stretched thin and don’t have the time to thoroughly vet every claim of lien.
This news has prompted a recent push for Missouri state legislation that would make filing fake documents a felony.
It’s not unheard of for homeowners to start getting bills from associations they didn’t know existed. Sometimes an association will have dissolved and then pop back up again, or a sub-association the homeowner didn’t know about will send bills for one thing or another and this can be perfectly legitimate. The only way to know ahead of buying a home is to do thorough association research beforehand, or have someone do it on your behalf.