Group Presenting Bogus Deeds in Scams

July 11, 2011

A group that says it belongs to the Moorish Science Temple of America is filing paperwork in Charlotte, N.C., area courthouses claiming the right to seize foreclosed property, investigators report.

J. David Granberry, Mecklenburg County's register of deeds, told The Mecklenburg Times that at least 200 deeds and other documents have been filed in his office in the name of the Moorish Science Temple that he believes are "outright fraud."

In one incident, a real estate sales associate was showing a couple a $700,000 foreclosed home when two men approached them, presenting a deed that claimed the home was “to have and to hold. forever” and owned by the Moorish Science Temple, a religious sect that was founded in the 1920s with beliefs loosely connected to Islam. Investigators also found personal items inside the home.

"These two guys came in, showed the purported deed and said the Moorish Temple now owned this house," said Detective Brian Keziah of the Union County Sheriff's Department. "They took over the house."

Christopher Bennet-Bey, the grand sheik of the Moorish Science Temple in Charlotte, said his group is not affiliated with any effort to seize vacant properties in the heard and that anyone doing so is misrepresenting the religion.

Real estate professionals in Virginia and California are being warned about similar incidents of bogus deeds being presented at foreclosed homes there too.

Source: “N.C. Officials Say Fake Property Claims Flooding in on Real Estate Caught in Foreclosure Crisis,” Associated Press (July 8, 2011)