Philadelphia authorities have charged a city man with 63 counts of forgery, deception, theft, and tampering with public records in connection with what they say was a scheme to steal homes from the unsuspecting and the dead.
William Johnson III transferred the titles of multiple homes in Philadelphia to himself, then sold those residences, said District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Announcing the charges Thursday, Krasner said he was sending a message to everyone who thinks they can bilk the unsuspecting.
“Mr. Johnson stole at least seven houses by falsifying and forging documents to make it appear that he was the legitimate owner of these properties, despite the fact that the rightful owners had not consented to any sale,” he said.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said the crackdown is a warning to others who think they can cheat homeowners in what’s become a citywide problem.
“There will be consequences if you continue to take advantage of vulnerable communities and language-minority communities in the city of Philadelphia,” she said.