Al Qaida... Hamas... Taliban... Hezbollah... No, it's none of those, but there is a real estate terrorists cell operating in Newton County and several other counties in Georgia, according to the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution."
Cells of the domestic terrorist group "sovereign citizens" (listed on the FBI's domestic terrorist list) are "stealing" homes across the U.S. Locally, investigators have tied them to at least 19 property thefts in Newton, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Spalding and Richmond counties.
The "sovereign citizens" group believe they are immune to state and federal laws, and assert -among other things - that banks can't own land and that any home owned by a bank - including hundreds in Newton County, and thousands across Georgia - is free for the taking. So they simply forge a bogus quitclaim deed, have a locksmith change locks on the foreclosed home of their choice, and move in.
Banks that own the foreclosed homes being usurped by the "sovereign citizens" are unaware of the deed changes. Generally, they have so many foreclosed properties, it's hard to keep track of all of them.
The FBI says the "sovereign citizens" is a sect of anti-government extremists involved in various criminal behavior, but whose crime of choice is paper terrorism and attempting to disrupt the U.S. economy. They create their own drivers' licenses, have multiple identities, don't pay taxes, file lawsuits and liens against police, government officials, and anyone else who questions them. They don't believe in the U.S. or our laws... until they're arrested. "Then they want a lawyer," says Lt. Joe Fagan, commander of DeKalb Police's North Precinct.
According to the "AJC," the FBI says the national "sovereign citizens" movement has been around for decades, and has ties to the Nuwaubians, a black supremacist group that started near Augusta. Nationally, "sovereign citizens," which originated as a white supremacist group, have been connected to multiple insurance fraud and tax evasions scams, and some violent crimes, including the shooting deaths of two police officers this past May in Arkansas.
The investigation of the "sovereign citizen" terrorist group stealing homes started in May when a DeKalb County real estate agent called local police to report that someone was having the locks changed on a $1 million home he was selling on Windsor Parkway in Atlanta.
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