Article Courtesy of The
By Wayne R. Roustan and Anne Geggis
Published May 11, 2018
A ring of thieves illegally took ownership of more
than 40 homes across South Florida in a multimillion-dollar plan — even
stealing properties that belonged to the dead, authorities say.
Group members used
fraudulent notary signatures to get the properties, then
they lived in the homes, sold them or rented them, arrest
The group picked not only the homes of unaware property
owners, but also those from the estates of 18 dead people,
the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. Because of that, deputies
dubbed their investigation “Operation Tomb Raider.”
The ring, which operated under various company names, is
facing more than 600 felony charges that include grand theft
and identity theft. It allegedly used quit-claim deeds and
powers of attorney to take ownership of the homes.
All told, the homes were worth nearly $12 million. They were
concentrated in west Broward County, in cities such as Coral
Springs, Tamarac, Lauderhill, Parkland and Weston.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation is the latest South
Florida case where investigators say homes were illegally
taken without owners’ consent.
Squatting in foreclosed homes reached a fever pitch in the
earlier part of this decade. Many homes were left empty
because banks couldn’t keep up with the foreclosure
proceedings after many homeowners found themselves owing
more on homes than the homes were worth.
Seven people are accused of stealing 44 homes worth
nearly $12 million.
In 2013, one case in Boca Raton made worldwide
headlines when Andre “Loki Boy” Barbosa, then 23, squatted in style at a
7,200-square-foot home valued at $2.5 million, on the Intracoastal
Waterway. No one saw him break into the opulent home, so it became a
civil matter because of an archaic law. That law was stricken from the
books during the next legislative season.
This month, as part of “Operation Tomb Raider,” authorities arrested six
of seven suspects Tuesday.
The seventh, Compton Maycock-Beckles, 44, was found squatting in a
foreclosed Weston home in 2016, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He is
facing grand theft and fraud charges.
The case began when sheriff’s Detective Christopher Bradley found
Maycock-Beckles living in a foreclosed home that belonged to someone
else, officials said.
The original owner said he never gave Maycock-Beckles or his employer,
Global Management Consulting Group, permission to live in or sell the
The detective found notaries who had their notary stamps and signatures
stolen to authorize deeds and property transfers without their
knowledge, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Members of the ring sometimes sold the same home to more than one person
and collected payments from both buyers almost simultaneously,
In other cases, they used powers of attorney to get access to dead
homeowners' bank accounts and Social Security checks, then back-dated
documents to make it look as if victims had given their permission,
Adriana Wulff, 49, of Kendall, was shocked to learn she was one of the
victims named in court papers. She had been led to believe that a Weston
home she left in 2007, while she was divorcing, was in foreclosure, she
said. The Weston home isn’t the one Maycock-Beckles allegedly was found
“It’s unbelievable what you are saying,” Wulff, a mother of three, told
the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I didn’t know what happened at the end
of the day.”
The arrest report says the home, now valued at $518,000, was in
foreclosure, but a fake deed made it look like Global Management
Consulting Group owned it and then sold it to another company, Prestige
Home Buyers LLC, which was in on the fraudulent activity.
The other suspects charged in the group are Catherine Lichtman, 56;
Mircho Murdjeff, 58; Gillian Solomon, 49; as well as Illya Livingstone
Tinker, 48; wife, Patricia, 44, and son, Darren, 23.
WTVJ-Ch.6 went along for the ride with the Broward Sheriff’s Office on
Tuesday morning as the arrests were made.
“It’s not true, sir,” a handcuffed Illya Tinker told a reporter during
the arrest at his Lauderhill home.
Gary Singer, a real estate lawyer in Fort Lauderale who writes a column
for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, says this alleged theft ring
appeared far more sophisticated than other defendants from cases from
Singer said he is representing a relative of one of the dead people
whose home in Margate was illegally acquired through a fake quit-claim
There were clues throughout the documents that the transaction was not
entirely legitimate, said Singer, who is cooperating with police in the
investigation. The deed, for example, showed a sale date two years
before it was actually recorded. The notary whose signature is recorded
there said she did not sign it.
“Florida is fertile territory for this sort of thing because there are a
lot of older people who don’t have a relative who lives close by,” he
said. “These people are creating documents that make it look like they
rightfully own it when they do not.”
Arrest reports don’t say what happened to each of the victims whose
homes were taken, or to those who rented properties from the ring.
The home involved in Singer’s case is currently occupied by a renter who
is going to be removed, he said.
“They might be victims as well, but that doesn’t mean they get to live
there,” he said.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office asks anyone who thinks they may have been
victimized or has information about the case to contact the agency at
954-888-5319. Tips can also be made, anonymously, to Broward Crime
Stoppers at 954-493-8477 or online at browardcrimestoppers.org.