An Atlanta woman is sharing her story. She wants to warn homeowners after she says someone stole her deed and tore her home down.
Linda Willis claims she had no idea had happened until her home was torn down.
Willis told WSB-TV investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln that scammers targeted her home in Old Fourth Ward because of its prime location on Ralph McGill Blvd.
“This is a historical area, this is why you would buy over here,” Willis told the outlet.
Willis said she purchased the home in 1990 and intended to spend the rest of her life living there.
“This is a sad day. After 30 years of paying a mortgage, it has become dangerous to be a senior and own gentrified urban property,” she explained.
Willis described the day last November when she arrived home to find a bulldozer tearing down her home.
“I went to the crane operator and said, ‘Who gave you permission to tear down my property?’” she recalled.
Willis said the crane operator told her he was hired by a company that recently purchased the home from a seller who said her name was Cencera Willis.
Linda Willis maintains that she doesn’t know anyone named “Cencera Willis,” and she never put her home up for sale.
Ashli Lincoln obtained records from the Fulton County Probate Court showing that “Cencera Willis” filed documents to become the administrator over Linda Willis’ property last year, appointing her deceased mother who just so happened to have the same name.
Lincoln spoke with real estate attorney Rick Alembik, who said there has been a significant rise in deed fraud cases, specifically in areas where gentrification occurs, typically targeting homes that have already been paid off.
“A lot of ways these fraudulent deeds are done, is by people who steal,” Alembik told Channel 2. “The extent in which it’s reported is probably under-reported, but we’re seeing it, we’re seeing more of it.”
“It’s easiest when you have a property that’s not incumbent by a mortgage,” Alembik explained. He also added that these scammers also target properties that appear to be abandoned.