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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Seven people the Broward Sheriff’s Office nicknamed ‘tomb raiders’ have been arrested, accused of running a major fraud ring that focused on real estate.
Sheriff’s investigators say they used quitclaim deeds to steal distressed homes – homes that were in foreclosure, homes belonging to disabled people, and homes from the estates of 18 dead people. They would then sell, rent, or live in the homes. At times, they would allegedly sell the home to more than one person and collect multiple payments. In total, investigators say the ring stole 44 homes. They are convinced there are other victims who have yet to be identified.
“In the cases of people who had died, they would go after the home of someone who was deceased, file a quitclaim deed, then take ownership of the home,” said Broward Sheriff’s spokesperson, Joy Oglesby.
The accused conspirators operated under various company names including Global Homebuyers, Prestige Home Buyers, and Global Management Consulting Group.
The sheriff’s office said they netted more than $12 million before they were caught.
Facing more than 600 felony charges that include grand theft and identity theft are Catherine Lichtman, Mircho Murdjeff, Gillian Solomon and the Tinker family: Illya, wife Patricia, and son Darren. The seventh conspirator Compton Maycock-Beckles was arrested in 2016 on grand theft and fraud charges for his alleged part in the deed scheme. The case began to come together following Maycock-Beckles’ arrest, according to investigators.
A former employee of the operation – who has not been charged – is a cooperating witness.
Police say the ring didn’t stop with stealing homes.
“These schemers actually took it a step further in some cases with the dead people by taking over their bank accounts and Social Security checks,” Oglesby said.
Bond was set at $180-thousand for Lichtman and Murdjeff. A Prosecutor said some of the defendants are facing 300 years in prison if convicted of all charges. In any event, all face minimum, mandatory penalties of 10 years in prison if convicted on some of the charges.