Florida man uses quit claim to fraud homeowners, pick fights

Published: September 29, 2016 7:07 PM EDT
Updated: September 30, 2016 12:03 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A family from Indiana thought they had found their perfect Florida home and were ready to move in … until a realtor realized it had been in the hands of another man, Lemroyal James.

“We were elated at the idea that this would be able to be our home,” said Paul Irminger, a husband and father of four who was looking forward to his family’s move into their new Coral Lakes Home.

The property had been foreclosed by Wells Fargo bank earlier this year, but he knew it would make a beautiful home for his new baby and three other young children. Then Irminger received a concerning call from his realtor.

“I heard from the realtor and she told me, ‘We have a situation,'” he said.

That situation was Lemroyal James.

James is what some, like real estate attorney Jeff Rice, would call a fraud — a total conman. That’s because James admits to filing claims on the titles of foreclosed homes that he does not own.

“Whoever has done this has gone and checked the foreclosure files and has sought foreclosed properties,” Rice said. “This is a fraud.”

But that’s not how James sees it. He said he is trying to prove a point to banks, who he said required a bailout and shouldn’t own the titles to homes.

“I did it because it was a message to be sent,” James said. “Banks have no say so because we bailed you out.”

James is able to convey properties using a legal process called a quitclaim deed. The quitclaim deed allows a property owner to transfer his or her interests in a property to another entity. It’s often used in divorce settlements. The only thing needed to perform a quitclaim deed is a county document with the address of the property, the grantor’s signature and the signature of the title’s recipient.

There is a particular loophole that James exploited to claim title to the Irminger’s new home: In Lee County, the clerk of court’s office does not verify the validity of quitclaim documents. In fact, that is the responsibility of the person who presents the deed, according to statements provided by the county.

“The preparer of the document is responsible for making sure that it has been properly executed. The role of the Clerk as the County Recorder is ministerial. We are statutorily required to record documents that meet the requirements in law,” the statement read.

What James is doing is what title examiners call a “wild deed.”

The lack of checks and balances at the Lee County clerk of court’s office allowed James to file a quit claim on Irminger’s Cape Coral home and a second home down the street in Bella Vida Estates. With the quit claim deed filed and signed off by a notary, it was impossible for Wells Fargo to immediately hand over the Coral Lakes home to Irminger, Rice said.

James signed the title over to a man named Mark Taylor, a friend he said needed the home.

But, a quitclaim deed is only legal, if you own title to the property being transferred.

“This conveys nothing, but it is a cloud on that title which means that it impacts the validity of the legitimate owner of the property… The bank is going to be unable to convey clear title to this person who has agreed to buy the property from the bank,” he said.

James said he is fighting a civil rights battle. He created the Civil Rights Banking Commission, which he continues use to claim titles on homes he believes banks can’t legally own.

“My intentions are never fraud. My intentions are the law say I can do this, so let’s go to court,” James said. “That’s all I ask, let’s go to court. If you want your property, come to court.”

But what James is doing is illegal. In the words of Rice: “If I have no title, I don’t convey a title,” which means James never had the right to file a quit claim deed for the home Irminger was going to purchase.

Now James could be facing criminal and civil charges.

“It’s a crime number one. Number two, it’s a civil wrong so that the person who signed this can also be sued civilly for damages,” Rice said.

James sold each Lee County home he claimed for $10 through the quitclaim deed. Both homes were sold to Taylor. James does not agree that he has committed a crime, but maintains that he is throwing punches at fraudulent banks.

“So now they want to make me out to be the bad guy,” he said. “Sure, I’ll be glad to be the bad guy to go against them.”

The Cape Coral Police Department is investigating Lemroyal James for selling the two vacant and foreclosed Lee County homes. Homes which again, he did not own and therefore could not sell.

James tells WINK News he’s being done this since 1997. In fact, his interview with WINK News was in a foreclosed home in Orlando.

It was furnished.

“You see the house where you are at? Same thing happened. Fannie Mae owns it. Well, Fannie Mae don’t own it. You do the history, Fannie Mae don’t own this property. But I’m here,” James said.

James was arrested in 2003 in Orange County for burglary. He claimed he owned the home at the time because he successfully filed for a quitclaim deed. James was also arrested in 2015 for filing false statements and fraudulent documents, which is a felony. Investigators said he filed claims on dozens of homes in Georgia and James could face up to five years in prison.

The Irminger family moved into their Coral Lakes home in early September.

The Lee County Clerk of Courts is looking into fraud alert software, that you notify you when something is recorded in your name.

To protect your home from quit claim fraud, the Clerk of Courts recommend you regularly check property records to make sure nothing has been filed under your name or address. Please refer to the following links: