January 9, 2013: District Attorney Seth Williams has charged four people for the fraudulent conveyance of over twenty properties in the City and County of Philadelphia. 55-year-old Zachary Stokes of the 200 block of E. Pine Street, 42-year-old Oscar Ketter of the 1500 block of S. Dorrance Street, and 48-year-old Elhadi Ibrahim of the 9500 block of Hoff Street were all arrested today after a three year investigation by the District Attorney’s Economic and Cyber Crimes Unit. 49-year-old Steven Johnson of the 4700 block of Vista Street has also been charged but is not currently in custody.
The lengthy investigation revealed that the deeds of 22 uninhabited properties across the city were forged and recorded, transferring the properties from the true owners to the codefendants or to fictitious persons. The properties were then often sold to innocent purchasers, and in many cases the purchase price was just one dollar.
In each case of fraud, the lawful owner was unaware of the “sale” of the property and did not sign the deed or give anyone the right to transfer title to the property. Several homeowners contacted the District Attorney’s Office about the illegal activity after receiving notification from the department of records that the deed had been transferred. In many instances, the signature of the Notary Public on the deed was also forged and a counterfeit stamp was used so the fraudulent deed could be recorded as a public record.
Zachary Stokes, Steven Johnson, Oscar Ketter and Elhadi Ibrahim have been charged with numerous counts of:
1) Criminal Conspiracy
2) Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition
3) Theft by Deception
5) Tampering with Records or Identification
6) Tampering with Public Records or Information