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Alleged Squatter Found in Decatur Home (Video)

Electric School Bus Funding Announced

$26 million has been allocated for the purchase of 86 electric school buses across five Georgia counties, including DeKalb, Clayton, and Douglas counties.

Local Law Enforcement Takes New Measures

Local law enforcement agencies are implementing new strategies to protect homes in response to a growing trend of stolen homes and property fraud across the metro area. This fraud, known as “property fraud,” involves the illegal transfer of home titles.

Investigators Track Property Fraud Cases

Investigators, including Ciara Cummings from Atlanta News First, are specifically tracking these types of cases. Homeowners often find themselves dealing with stolen house reports and face challenges when filing police reports.

Historical Family Home Targeted

A home on Columbia Woods Drive, originally purchased in 1974 by Margaret’s parents following a family tragedy, has undergone significant changes, including ownership. Code enforcement cited the property for exterior dwelling violations in March 2024.

Squatter Allegations and Legal Complications

An alleged squatter was found in the home, claiming to have the owner’s permission to stay. Upon investigation, documents revealed a new deed signed on January 24, 2024, transferring the home’s title to the alleged squatter. However, this deed could not have been legitimately signed as Katie Williams, the supposed signatory, had been deceased since February 2017.

Legal Loopholes and Upcoming Legislation

A legal loophole in Georgia state law allowed thieves to steal home titles without requiring identification. This loophole facilitated fraudulent transfers of property titles. A new state law, effective in 2025, will mandate identification when filing deeds to prevent such fraud in the future.

Ongoing Investigation and Efforts to Reclaim Property

The family of the home is actively trying to reclaim the property, facing extensive paperwork and legal hurdles. Atlanta News First is investigating and exposing these loopholes to help prioritize property fraud cases.

New Records Management System Implemented

A new records management system has been created to flag and tag reports believed to involve title fraud. This system aims to streamline the investigation process and help law enforcement prioritize property fraud cases.

Contact with Alleged New Owner

Attempts were made to reach the new owner, referred to as Mr. B., who claimed to have legally obtained the property. However, no proof has been provided, and the investigation is ongoing.

Advice for Homeowners

Homeowners are advised to set up protections to safeguard their properties against fraud and unauthorized occupation.

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