FORT PIERCE, Fla.--Before Hurricane Irma last year, David Garza drove up from Miami to board up his home in Fort Pierce.
“And I come back to a changed lock on the door," he recalled. He went around the back to discover the inside was being renovated. “They have new rooms, new tile," he said.
Concerned, he called the sheriff’s office.
It turned out that Christopher P. Williams had forged a quit claim deed saying Garza sold him the home for $5 thousand, according to investigators. Detectives say he then resold it for a profit.
“What he was doing, unsuspecting to our victims, was taking their homes while they still owned them," said St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office Detective James Jennings.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office says Williams operated a number of companies to handle these alleged fraudulent transactions, including the sale of four homes around Fort Pierce, one of which he moved his family into.
Josephine Knight said a home on Avenue K had 'For Sale' and 'For Rent' signs. Upon learning her son could have been mixed up in a fraud case, she was glad to know he didn’t move in.
“It doesn’t surprise me, we have cheaters we have thieves," Knight said.
And after taking a year to legally get his home back, Garza now has his cousin living there, to prevent this from happening again.
If you don’t think this can happen to you, Sheriff Ken Mascara said that a few years ago, an inmate at the jail filed a quit claim deed on his home.
Williams faces one count of Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and four counts of grand theft.
The sheriff believes there could be more victims.
If you dealt with Christopher Williams you are urged to call the sheriff's office.
To help protect property 🏠owners from 👤 fraud, the Clerk’s office offers a free service to notify citizens 🧔🏻👩🏽 if a document 📑has been recorded in their name.
— St. Lucie Clerk (@StLucieClerk) September 12, 2018