Among the more bizarre bottom-feeders to profit from our foreclosure mess is Jacob Franz: Dyck (yep, he signs with a colon), a 72-year-old former Florida dentist and ex-con who figured out a clever way to drill for gold in the cavities of America's broken dreams.
Dyck considers himself a "sovereign citizen," meaning he's not bound by those troublesome federal and state laws that govern the rest of us. His personal declaration of sovereignty came shortly after he lost his license and was sentenced to prison for bilking a couple out of their silver and gold collection.
Quick history lesson: According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Sovereign Citizens Movement cranked up about 40 years ago around the belief that the federal government had been infiltrated by shadowy forces that "tricked" Americans into citizenship by offering such privileges as driver's licenses and Social Security. They apparently like to insert colons into their names to further stick it to the man.
But rather than exercise his sovereignty in benign ways, say by playing Guitar Hero cranked to 11, Dyck wiles away his golden years filing "wild deeds" on properties facing foreclosure, thereby scamming the homeowners and forcing the banks and title companies to pay him to go away.
According to a St. Petersburg Times investigation, Dyck convinced hundreds of homeowners facing foreclosure to pay him as much as $2,500 apiece to place their homes in "pure trusts," which Dyck maintains cannot be seized or taxed because they fall under "common law."
In at least one instance, Dyck even rented a foreclosed home back to the owners after they paid him $2,500 and signed over the deed. Dyck told police that since he had placed the home in a pure trust, the owners owed the bank nothing.
The Anti-Defamation League says pure trusts rank right up there with "Royal Hawaiian Treasury Bonds" and "land patents" as bogus ways to save a home from foreclosure.
According to an alert issued to title companies by David Heine of PCS Title in Orlando, Fla., here's Dyck's method of operation:
Within 90 days of a Certificate of Title being recorded, Mr. Dyck and his “army” of accomplices create a Warranty Deed transferring title to the property from himself to one of many trusts in which he is the trustee. Costs him 70 cents to record. He then waits (until) someone from a title company who is trying to close a sale on this same property and issue title insurance sends him a letter requesting he sign a quit claim deed to clear title. He agrees; however, it will cost the selling bank $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 even though he has no legal right to the property!
Naturally, those pesky revenuers have come sniffing around. The FBI questioned Dyck last year and the state is after him for nearly $13,000 in unpaid taxes. But the newspaper's attempts to contact him at his last known address in Miami proved futile.
The kicker: Dyck has managed to avoid any criminal charges thus far for his "Free Willy" approach to mortgage mediation.
Wonder why there was so much uproar over the lax documentation practices surrounding the "robosigners" and "rocket dockets" last fall?
It's to prevent the Dycks of the world from saying to Americans facing foreclosure, "Open wide."
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