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FBI informs family they bought stolen house in Murrieta

June 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A family is being told the house they thought they bought in Murrieta actually belongs to someone else. The family says they can't stop making their mortgage payments.

"Even though you've made your payments in full every month, you could get a knock at the door saying get out," said would-be homeowner Charlie Zahari. "If you look at it, we're renters in a house we can't move out of."

That was hardly the feeling last summer where there was all the euphoria of buying their first home.

They custom painted the girls' bedrooms and sodded the backyard.

They stopped making improvements when they found out they're not the legal owners of the home.

"We actually got a call from the FBI who said we just wanted to inform you that your house has been part of a deed fraud scheme," Zahari said.

Karen Tappert is the person the Zahari's say is responsible for stealing the home and selling it to them. She's facing federal charges, but that does little to help the Zahari's with their situation. They must continue paying for the home or otherwise put their credit at risk. They can also be forced to vacate at any moment.

Officials said it started when the original owners of the property vacated the house because they thought the bank was going to foreclose on them. That never happened, and the alleged scam artists swooped in and fraudulently sold it to the Zaharis.

The family said neither the title company, First American Title Insurance, nor the bank have done much to help answer how the title company allowed the purchase of the home in the first place.

In a statement, First American said, "For privacy reasons we cannot comment on the specifics of Mr. & Mrs. Zahari's claim, however, generally the process of establishing title involves other necessary parties and is dependent on their cooperation. This process can be time consuming and complicated."

Bank of America also said they're a victim too and they're working with the title company for a resolution.

Tappert's federal trial is under way in Nevada.

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