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South Carolina Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison For Using Forged Deeds to Steal Homes
press release, U.S. Department of Justice

Robert McCloud, 39, most recently of Warrenville, S.C., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison on a federal wire fraud charge stemming from a real estate scheme in which he and others used forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to fraudulently transfer ownership of District of Columbia homes from the rightful owners.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

McCloud pled guilty in June 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Amit P. Mehta. In addition to his prison term, McCloud must pay restitution in an amount to be set later by the Court, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $57,965. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release, the first six months of which is to be spent in home confinement. McCloud also will be required to perform 150 hours of community service.

According to the government’s evidence, McCloud and others identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. Finally, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.

In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted taking part in two such fraudulent transactions within a two-month period of 2015, which generated a total of $580,482 in proceeds.

In the first, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person. The true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to transfer their home. McCloud then appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud withdrew approximately $43,000 of the funds before the crime was discovered; the rest of the funds were returned to the title company.

In the second transaction, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. As with the other property, the true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to sell the residence. In June 2015, McCloud appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph. He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name. The title company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud was arrested the following day.

The true owners of the homes, who are elderly, have faced difficult and lengthy proceedings in order to retitle the properties in their own names. Unwinding the fraudulent transfer is merely the first step for the victims to reclaim their ownership and interest in the properties and each must now settle various outstanding bills.

Although McCloud received $580,482 in proceeds from his wire fraud scheme regarding both real properties, law enforcement seized a total of $369,990, which was later administratively forfeited. These forfeited funds, and the partial return of funds to the title company from the K Street transaction, reduced the amount owed in forfeiture to $57,965, which is the amount of the forfeiture money judgment.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.

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I take my hat off for the U.S Attornery Liu and all the others who had put this person behind bars. At this very moment i am facing eviction which had started out with a realestate broker who  had a Power of Attorney which she had made herself the Attorney-in-Fact for my husband. She was caught received a tap on the wrist . She had took ou a 137.000 loan and put our home up as collatteral ,didnt make any payments (this was before she got caught) and we went into foreclouser. Bank of America is who she had the loan with, called their fraud unit line they said they would put us on a list. No help there. We had told BoA to let us know how much and if we could possibly pay. They were Rude and said since we were not on the loan we cant do anything. Its not our loan, but they are taking our home. So she gets the tap on the hand then she files bankruptcy and give our home to BoA.  We hired a lawyer, paid him 20,000 and at the end they recorded and put down it was a spuorious document, our lawyer tells the judge if he could give half the property to us and the other to BoA. My husband and I dont know anything about realestate and were not lawyers. So we got took by our lawyer. He had told us that BoA would get ahold of us to see what we wanted to do. This all happend starting in 2006. 2017 comes along we get served with foreclouser papers, i have my realtor friend help dont know what she did but were still here. We got served agan in 06/2017 again and their is my sons friend who knows about realestate so hes writing out motions filing them. My husband had so much stress from this that he passed away in january 2018 in our home. We were married for 34 years. Right now BoA has been bulling me. Ive had the friend of my sons helping me again. He is really good except he can not stand up to BoA since hes not a lawyer. I have trial Nov 1st. The judge is as crooked as the bank. Ihave lost my husband this year, the main source of my life, now the bank wants to take my home even though they know that it stemmed from a forged document. That has already been recorded. The bank helps the judge, the judge helps the bank. Im just a widow whos been scammed , im all alone, ive got 2 big dogs and 36 years of my life here. Their throwing me out. Unbelieveable!! There is no help for me here in denver, ive been to attorney general which they tell me they dont work as lawyers for regular people like me. Ive talked to senators well one didnt call me back, the other said he doesnt do that kind of stuff. Iasked him like helping citizens? Iam in need of a attorney as soon as possible. Every inch of paperwork is all laid out. It is a cut and dry case. Sorry for the ramble if we had the authorities to help the public like U.S  Attorney Liu i wouldnt be in the rotten position im in.  If anyone can help please email me.   thank you

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This type of fraud was almost unheard of until somebody thought it would be a good idea to put the "public records" online where they could be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world. It was a stupid mistake that has cost thousands of honest people there homes.

Many of us reported on this in Source of Title and members of NALTEA testified before state legislatures in an effort to stop deed fraud at it's source, online "public records". We were met at every turn with resistance by the very people who were profiting the most, the tech companies, data miners and criminals.

Thankfully, most of the counties I serve were intelligent enough to keep their records off the Internet.

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