Local News
Eyewitness Sports
Medical Coverage
Call For Action
More Details
What's On WPRI
What's On Fox
2 Minute Test Drive
Experts Online
Online Store
Chopper 12
Station Info

MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 14, 2005
Education | House & Home | Money | Pets | Recipes | Relationships | What's Next | More Topics...
The Investigators
Real Estate speculators could be looking to take your home and there's nothing you can do about it
Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version  

Real estate speculators prowl the tax rolls looking for property owners who owe money. They buy up everything in sight, leaving many families facing the possibility of losing their homes.   

A tax sale can be a heartbreaking experience for the person who might lose the property. But for the speculator there's lots of money in the misfortune of others.

"Oh,yeah. The 4 bedroom, 3 bedrooms. The fourth floor no finish."

Maria Carrasco and her husband Jose Ortega say they spent two years and $70,000 rebuilding the fire damaged house on Atlantic Avenue they bought eight years ago.

Speculator Steven Murray bought a lien on the property over a disputed $18-hundred dollar sewer bill from the narragansett bay commission. He got full ownership of the house when a $200 check from Carrasco and Ortega that was part of a settlement agreement bounced.

As a result, Maria and Jose lost a house that is worth more than $200,000 because of a disputed sewer bill and a $200 check.

"I say why the judge give this house to Stevie Murray? why? stevie murray never work in the house. Never put in money in the house."

It happened due to a system that works this way:

A home owner falls behind on a sewer, water or tax bill.

The property is listed for a lien sale.

A speculator buys the lien for the price of the outstanding bill.

The original owner has a year and a day to redeem the property by paying the speculator the amount of the initial outstanding bill, plus interest of 10 to 16 percent, plus legal any any other fees the speculator says were incurred. If the property is not redeemed, the speculator forecloses in court and owns the property outright.

The lateest tax sale here at Providence City hall brought in more than $1.3 million dollars to the city for the sale of liens on about 320 properties. Our Eyewitness News Investigation shows about six speculators bought almost half of those tax liens.

Our investigation also shows that once a speculator files a title deed, the city sends all notices of owed taxes to the speculator and not the property owner.

"The tax bill goes to the person who acquires it at tax lien, but the property owner is still responsible for  paying the property taxes."

Critics like Dennis Langley of the urban league say sending tax bills to the speculators is confusing for the property owners. Our investigation also found that some properties that get resold at a tax sale end up with the smae speculators, even though the tax sale is supposed to be an open bidding process.

"The system works for the speculators.."  but it doesn't work for Joseph Benton, whose mother, now in a nursing home, became ill and forgetful a couple of years ago.

He says he din't know know she owed $1,800 in property taxes and that a lien on the house was sold at a city tax sale. A speculator is now moving to foreclose on the property.

Benton is trying to say the house, where eight members of his family live. "I'm not unique in this. There are a number of families who this small group of individuals are just trying to grab the house from under them and put them out in the street and don't care where. "

Among those who who feel they tooare victims of an unfair system are Maria Carrasco and Jose Ortega.


�I have 20 something years in this country. I working all the time. I never have the welfare. I never go to the ACI. I never go to the police station. I'm working too hard.�


Maria and Jose say they can't understand how a disputed sewer bill and a $200 check could cost them a $200.000 property that was part of their american dream.


They've appealed their case all the way to the State Supreme Court.



Local News
Governor names replacement for child advocate
Eyewitness News RSS Feeds
Try the very latest way to read Eyewitness News headlines. Never miss an important story!
Mollicone going back to jail
Romney Prepares for His State of the State
Judge Allowing Criminal History
More Than Two Million Going to Conservation
Warwick Kicks Off Tunami Aid Campaign
R.I. National Guard soldier returns from Afghanistan
Governor makes nomination for new health insurance commissioner post
Joe Mollicone is back in prison after violating parole
National News  more» 
Preliminary estimates put damage at over $100 million in storm-battered California
Abu Ghraib abuse case rests without Graner's testimony
Advisers debate safety of allowing over-the-counter sales of cholesterol drug
Police investigate multiple deaths in Dallas
States propose paying premiums for National Guard life insurance
Bush expected to propose raising Pell Grant award
Atheist asks judge to prevent prayer at Bush inauguration
Bush heading to Florida to focus on education, job training plans
More residents to return to South Carolina homes
Rains bring more flooding worries all over Ohio
Is Your Financial House in Order?
Take a look at your New Year's resolution list. Is "make a budget," "save more money," or "start investing" on there? Click now for simple solutions.
What's a Good Credit Score?
It's your right to know what credit scoring agencies are saying about you. Learn what's considered a "good" score.
Living With Diabetes
Part of living with Diabetes is managing it properly. A free Diabetes Health Organizer can help.
Send questions and comments about this website to the .
All content © Copyright 2003-2005 WorldNow, WPRI, WNAC and Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.