Forged deeds lead to stolen homes, broken hearts in South Florida

In a scam that authorities say has proliferated in recent years, a Florida woman fell victim to swindlers who used bogus quitclaim deeds to secretly strip her of the property.

News Story (Florida)

David Ovalle
Miami Herald
December 3, 2015

Tags: Consumer Protection, Housing, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGMI)


Spurred by cases like Cleland’s, the Miami-Dade Inspector General’s Office and prosecutors in recent weeks have begun meeting with the clerk of courts to figure out new procedures aimed at curbing quitclaim deed fraud.

“It’s just too easy to steal somebody’s property by filing a fraudulent quitclaim deed,” Miami-Dade Inspector General Mary Cagle told the Miami Herald and news partner WFOR-CBS4.

For seven months, Cleland lived on the streets, occasionally crashing with friends, usually sleeping in a grassy area outside the nearby Palm Springs Methodist Church. This week, with help from Legal Services of Greater Miami, a civil judge ordered Cleland be allowed to return to the three-bedroom home.

“She had been feeling hopeless, but I definitively saw a sense of relief. She was stoic,” said Legal Services attorney Lissette Labrousse.