New Owners Find Home Already Occupied

Zael Zura and fiancee Veronica Botts (pictured left) closed on their little yellow house Friday after an alleged serial squatter delayed their move by about a week.

The first-time homebuyers put an offer on a recently renovated bank-owned home in Shoreline, Wash., several weeks ago, on the same day Zura proposed to Botts. But about 10 days before closing, on the day of their engagement party, Zura drove past the house and found a stranger living in what was suppose to be their vacant, 2-bedroom, 1-bath home, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"I thought, what are they doing here, what are they stealing, and why are they here?" Zura told the paper. When he knocked on the door, one of the alleged squatters apparently told him, "Oh, I'm the new tenant."

Although a common fraud problem is for a scammer to rent out a home to unsuspecting renters even though they have no right to execute a lease, in this case police believe the so-called renters were knowingly part of the scam.
After noticing that the Realtor's lock box had been cut and "No Trespassing" signs and a deed had been posted to the outside of the 1,040-square-foot home, Zura called police.

It turned out that the deed, filed in Snohomish County, listed the owner as James McClung, whose name was notarized by Jill Lane. Apparently, police were already familiar with both names from documents on several million-dollar-plus bank-owned homes throughout the Seattle area.

As HousingWatch reported in "Alleged Squatter Stakes Claim to Seattle Homes, Says She Is 'Sticking It' to Banks," the two run NW Note Elimination, a company that counsels people in how to "eliminate mortgages" as well as take over empty, foreclosed houses.

McClung is a former Keller Williams Realty agent from Bothell who lost his association with the broker after he was connected in June with squatting, reported the Post-Intelligencer.

"The machine that I'm fighting is the bankers. I'm just one of the little guys who's fighting that," McClung told the paper.

Listing agent Christina Lee of Century 21 told HousingWatch that the home was owned by JPMorgan Chase Bank, but that the scammers had actually filed a deed. "They had it recorded, but it is phony because the person who notarized the deed was part of their scam," she alleged.

Lee said that when she learned of what had happened, she had the locks changed and replaced the hanging lockbox. The closing was delayed, she said, because "we want to make sure we have a clear title for the buyer." The buyers officially closed on the home Friday.

The house, which sold for $189,600, has hardwood floors, a remodeled kitchen, a sunroom off the living room and French doors that lead to a backyard deck.

The small home, pictured below, does not fit the typical home that McClung's and Lane's names have been associated with, says Lee.

According to reports
, notices signed by McClung were placed Aug. 17 on two Market neighborhood homes and one house in Bellevue. All three homes were listed for more than $1 million, were brand new and had never been occupied. Two were bank-owned, and the other was in foreclosure.

See other homes for sale in Shoreline, WA at AOL Real Estate.

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