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    Tarrant Officials Target Property Scam

    Tarrant County officials took steps today to stop a practice being used to attempt to illegally take possession of other people's homes.

    Already this year, the Tarrant County Clerk's Office has received about 60 affidavits of adverse possession, some of which may have been used by people to take possession of vacant or abandoned homes.

    The Criminal District Attorney's Office has instructed the County Clerk's Office to stop accepting these documents because they have been determined to be fraudulent filings.

    The district attorney's office will be contacting police chiefs, constables, as well as the sheriffs department, to encourage them to pursue criminal prosecution against these individuals. These so-called "squatters" could possibly face charges of burglary, theft by deception and fraudulent filing, among others.

    The clerk's office will also be contacting the original property owners to inform them of this illegal activity.

    Meanwhile, officials are asking property owners to contact their local police departments if they believe they have been a target of this scam.

    * * *

    "While state law mandates county clerks to take nearly 100 different types of documents, the affidavits of adverse possession filed this year in my office have been determined by the District Attorney to be fraudulent filings," said Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia. "We will no longer accept these affidavits for filing."

    "We take seriously people who attempt to deprive homeowners of their property - and my office will take the appropriate action," said Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon.

    This news release was issued November 7, 2011, by the Criminal District Attorney's Office. Contact Melody McDonald, Criminal District Attorney Public Information Officer, 817-884-3120, or Marc Flake, Tarrant County Public Information Officer, 817-884-2535.