Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer uncovered paperwork the woman filed, claiming ownership of the home, but the home is actually owned by a bank. A man told Fleischer he saw it advertised at a bargain.
Thats why I jumped on it as soon as I saw it, I figured I could make money renting other rooms out because she gave me the permission to do that, Ian Greye said.
Greye told Fleischer he thought the 5,000-square foot home with a movie theater and an elevator was a steal at $1,200 a month. He signed a lease with a woman who said her name was Sam Wilson and paid her $2,400 up front. But a document filed at the DeKalb County courthouse showed a woman named Susan Weidman claimed possession of the house because of its apparent abandonment.
Channel 2 showed Greye a picture of Weidman, and he confirmed she is the Sam Wilson who rented him the home. Fleischer tracked down Weidman at her home in Cobb County, but she declined an interview.
Not going to talk to you, Weidman told Fleischer as she closed the window.
Weidman spoke to Fleischer last year for a story on her success canceling her own mortgage to stop foreclosure.
I didnt set out to commit a crime. I set out to call a bluff, Weidman told Fleischer in November.
Weidman was still living in her Cobb County home and hadnt made a payment in more than a year. She demonstrated how to write up and file her own court documents using the Internet.
She knows what shes doing, and its unfortunate because the documents she does show, they do look legitimate until you look at them closely, said Realtor Kris Kolarich, whos trying to sell the Decatur home.
Kolarich said the longer the home sits on the market, neighboring property values will drop.
Its frustrating because we want to get it sold, Kolarich said.
The bank offered to pay Greye back his money in an arrangement called Cash for Keys. Its a faster and cheaper way for banks to remove tenants, instead of using formal eviction. Weidman left some of her furniture in the house, which under state law means the bank would have to evict or pay her to leave as well.
Shes a pro, and she probably can get away with it time and time again, unless the District Attorney or DeKalb County or the banks step in and start prosecuting, said Kolarich.
In March, prosecutors indicted twelve people for racketeering after Channel 2 exposed their scheme to steal houses last summer.
Records show the same district attorney has now opened a criminal case against Weidman for her actions. He said the case could also include her cancelling her own mortgage in Cobb County. The mortgage company has since filed paperwork declaring the cancellation invalid.
When they clean up Wall Street, Ill start to feel guilty, Weidman told Fleischer during her interview last year.
Greye said he will cooperate with investigators and start looking for a new place to live.
Maybe next time Ill have to make some phone calls and verify somebody before I go moving into a place, said Greye.