Squatter accused of trying to steal home

LOS ANGELES – A 26-year-old squatter from Los Angeles was arrested and charged with real estate fraud after forging documents in an effort to gain control of a property, investigators said today. James Eleby was charged March 25 by the L.A. County District Attorney’s office. He was arrested Monday.

Authorities said that last September, Eleby moved into a vacant property located on the 1300 block of E. 99th Street in Los Angeles. The property was owned by Zamore Properties LLC.

The allegation states that Eleby posed as a manager for Zamore Properties, despite having no affiliation, and executed a quitclaim deed transferring ownership of the property to himself.

The quitclaim deed bore the signature of a non-existent person who Eleby mistakenly believed was the owner of the property, authorities said.

When Zamore Properties filed a quiet title action in civil court, Eleby allegedly made false statements, in writing, to the court in order to maintain control of the property. Eleby allegedly told investigators he was trying to get control of the property through “adverse possession.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Eleby Monday at the 99th Street property. He was charged with forgery, identity theft, procuring and offering a false instrument, and preparing false documentary evidence. He is being held on $110,000 bail and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Detectives believe Eleby has been involved in other squatting incidents throughout the Los Angeles area and are asking anyone with information to call Detective Derry at (562) 233-8204.

“Adverse possession” is a method of gaining legal title to real property, but authorities said they are seeing “a significant increase” in the number of people who are doing it improperly by creating and recording false documents, which is a crime.



Published: April 16, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 01