Jacob Dyck’s wild deeds perplex homeowners

Alexandra Zayas and John Martin, St. Petersburg Times

Last year, Olga Aponte sold the New York home she had owned for 32 years and paid cash for a foreclosure house in Kissimmee. The 67-year-old wanted a solid retirement investment. For months, she lived in peace.

That was, until she learned about the intruder. It happened this summer, when her son saw the name of a stranger on her property records, on a deed filed one month after she bought her house: Jacob Franz Dyck.

But Aponte had never met Dyck, or agreed to sign anything. And she wasn’t the only one.

Dyck, the Times has learned, has filed more than 100 “wild deeds” laying claim to properties in Osceola county. The deeds bear no signatures of the rightful homeowners or any evidence of their consent.

What is he doing and what does he stand to gain?

It’s unclear.

Authorities can’t find him to answer that question, but his track record gives them cause for concern.

Dyck, 72, is a self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen,” purporting to be above the laws of government. He’s also a felon. The St. Petersburg Timeswrote about him in August after homeowners said he misled them into thinking they could avoid foreclosure by deeding their houses to him to put into a “pure trust.” For this, he charged a fee. Owners lost their homes anyway.

“Sovereign citizens” have declared themselves free from government and believe banks don’t have a right to foreclose on properties; they often flood the courts with documents, a practice known among critics as “paper terrorism.”

The theories for Dyck’s actions matter less than the implication:

There is little to stop this from happening to you.

• • •

This is how transfers of propertyshould work: When Person A sells a home to Person B, they record a deed with the county clerk, reflecting the transfer. The chain of ownership serves as proof that the new owner has rights to the property.

But in a “wild deed,” an outsider appears on the property out of the blue, clouding that chain of ownership, causing problems when it comes time for the owner to sell the property.

In the summer of 2010, Dyck filed more than 100 such deeds in Osceola County.

The grantor: himself.

The grantee: his trust.

The clerk’s office accepted each; it was required to by law, said Osceola clerk’s office spokeswoman Amy Envall. “If he pays the fee and it is notarized, we have no discretion. We have a ministerial duty just to record it.”

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