Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says three out-of-state companies allegedly perpetrated a tax sale scheme that swindled property owners in Indiana out of potentially millions of dollars. Zoeller’s office is suing the companies and their owners, seeking $9 million in restitution and penalties.
The lawsuit was filed in Marion County court against FLRC LLC, Coastal Title Inc., Oak Tree Title LLC, along with Diana Castro, Craig Talkington and David Fuqua. The defendants are based in Florida, Oklahoma and Nevada.
Court documents say the defendants took advantage of struggling property owners in Allen, Johnson, Lake and Marion Counties who had fallen behind on their real-estate taxes and did not understand the tax sale process.
Zoeller’s office says when a homeowner falls behind on their property taxes, the county auctions off the home. If the winning bid is more than amount owed in taxes, the county will keep the tax amount and give the rest back to the homeowner.
The defendants would allegedly persuaded the homeowners into signing over their properties to the defendants for $450 or less. The defendants would then submit claims to get the money from the auction, which ranged from $2,000 to $900,000.
"Rarely have we seen a scam that so brazenly exploited desperate property owners and took advantage of their lack of understanding of a complicated legal process. Victims not only lost their property but money that was rightfully owed to them," Zoeller said. "We suspect others were victimized, and my office will use every legal tool available to halt this fraud, hold the defendants accountable and assist the victims."
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction that prevents the defendants from "engaging in any transactions in Indiana or any deceptive acts or omissions."