Philly DA charges Point Breeze man with stealing properties from the dead

  Back to News

The District Attorney’s Office has accused a 50-year-old man of using forged deeds and notary stamps to steal six properties in the city’s booming Point Breeze neighborhood.

Robert Stokes, who lives in the neighborhood, was charged with 47 counts of forgery, theft, and tampering with records.

Stokes, who has a long criminal record, filed his first forged deed to the city Records Department on Aug. 4, 2017, and his last two on Aug. 17 of that year, prosecutors said. He is alleged to have taken three lots in the 1500 block of South Lambert Street and three more in the same block of adjacent South Capitol Street, all near 21st and Dickinson Streets.

Lots in the gentrifying area sell for between $100,000 and $125,000, according to real estate broker Stuart Cohen of the Mike McCann Team/KW Philly agency.

The city Records Department logged 136 complaints of deed fraud last year, nearly doubling from the previous year. Esack said her unit fields as many as five calls a day from victims of property theft.

In a common technique used by house thieves in the city, Stokes allegedly submitted bogus deeds, which bore the forged signatures of the owners and a notary who supposedly witnessed the transaction. In three instances, the owners were dead. One had been dead for 47 years.

In three of the thefts, prosecutors said, Stokes quickly filed new deeds, using a legitimate notary, to transfer the properties to a business bearing his name. Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Esack, who heads the Economic Crime Unit, said the transfer appeared to be a way to obscure the thefts should a title company examine the sales histories of the lots.

Housing theft has grown as more neighborhoods have gentrified. The city Records Department logged 136 complaints of deed fraud last year, nearly doubling from the previous year. Esack said her unit fields as many as five calls a day from victims of property theft.

Last month, District Attorney Larry Krasner launched a crackdown on housing theft and organized a working group to find ways to close the loopholes that permit the thievery.

Esack worked on the investigation with Detectives Gerald Rocks and Kevin O’Gorman. They launched the inquiry after one victim realized that someone had forged his name on a fake deed. The victim called the District Attorney’s Office.

Stokes turned himself in Wednesday. His criminal record includes a conviction on a firearms charge and five arrests for drug dealing. His last drug-dealing case led to a three- to seven-year prison sentence.

Esack and her team last month charged William E. Johnson III, 43, with stealing multiple houses from the dead. Johnson is accused of forging signatures and notary approvals to take seven houses. As the Inquirer has reported, most of his acquisitions were in the Brewerytown area, another neighborhood of fast-rising property values.

This content has been reproduced from its original source.

SHARE:

  BACK

How Title Fraud Works

Thieves simply change ownership of your home from YOU to THEM. Then they TAKE OUT LOANS on your home and just disappear - leaving YOU with the payments and a mountain of legal bills.

Click to see if your home's title has been compromised.
Get your FREE TITLE SCAN and COMPREHENSIVE TITLE REPORT (a $100 value FREE with sign up)

SIGN UP TODAY

Speak to a live agent
(800) 899-6268

100% Money Back Guarantee Within First 60 Days


Home Title Lock

Property ownership is not just the American dream, it's also the most flexible financial tool to build family prosperity. Home Title Lock ensures that your assets are protected against Title Fraud and Title Thieves.

Find Out More


You Need Home Title Lock to Protect Your Property

Thirty years ago we started creating the largest database of property records in the United States. Today, that database has 6.1 billion property records. We protect your property value and ownership from on-line threats both foreign and domestic.

GET PROTECTED

Speak to a live agent
(800) 899-6268


Watch This Now

SIGN UP TODAY

How Easily Title Fraud Occurs

EVERYTHING is stored online in the cloud - including your home's title

1

Domestic and international thieves scour online records for homes with equity. It could be the home you live in, your vacation home, a home of an elderly relative, or rental property you own.


2

Once they change your home's ownership from YOU to THEM, they re-file the Quitclaim Deed for your home with the proper authorities so it appears your home has been legally sold.


3

They take out personal loans through banks and online lenders using all your home's equity. You likely won't know you're a victim until you start receiving late payments or foreclosure notices.

Click to see if your home's title has been compromised.
Get your FREE TITLE SCAN and COMPREHENSIVE TITLE REPORT (a $100 value FREE with sign up)

FREE 30-Day Trial

Speak to a live agent
(800) 899-6268

ACCORDING TO THE FBI:
Title and Mortgage Fraud are the fastest growing white collar crimes in America.

Everything is stored online these days - including your home's title. Domestic and international cyber-thieves target U.S. homeowners equity in their homes. Removing you from your home's title takes just minutes. Then they forge their name on the title document and refile it. Next, they take out loans using your home's equity and stick you with the payments. You likely won't know until you get a late payment or foreclosure notice from several banks.

Get your FREE TITLE SCAN and COMPREHENSIVE TITLE REPORT (a $100 value FREE with sign up)

FREE 30-Day Trial  

Title Fraud is NOT COVERED by

Your Bank

Legal Trust

Homeowners Insurance

Identity Theft Protection

You Need Home Title Lock to Protect Your Property

GET PROTECTED
Sign Up  

Activate Title Lock alerts and secure your property from fraudulent title filings