Fake homeowners association files real liens on homes after fake bills go unpaid

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For years, residents of a quiet Kansas City neighborhood ignored bills arriving in their mail demanding payment to a homeowners association.

“I just want to let you know it’s a scam,” Tony Navarro said when he moved into the Summerfield subdivision. “It’s not an HOA neighborhood at all. There are no monthly fees.”

But then, just before Christmas, a $445 lien was filed against Navarro’s home and more than 30 others.

The reason? For failing to pay dues to the Summerfield Homeowners Association. An HOA that has no board of directors and provides no services.

If you call the phone number of the company that runs the HOA – Column’s Park LLC: “It’s a random guy who answers,” neighbor Jesse Kaucher told WDAF.

“He told me he had the number for five years,” Kaucher said. “He asked me to let the community know it wasn’t him. That’s how you know it’s a scam.

Even though the HOA may be fake, the privileges are real. The neighbors had to hire attorney Ed Ford to have them removed.

The filing of false liens and other documents has become a big problem in Missouri. The owners of a $4 million mansion in St. Louis had to go to court to stop a woman they accused of filing a fake quitclaim from taking possession of their home.

“I was dumbfounded,” Rep. Kirk Mathews said, “I had no idea this practice existed.”

Mathews has since learned that it’s easy to file false documents because the recorder of deeds in each county doesn’t have the manpower to verify the legitimacy of each claim.

“They just stamp it, stamp it and it’s filed and done,” said Mathews, who has sponsored legislation to make filing false documents a crime. “Hopefully this bill will provide some real teeth for law enforcement to prosecute people who do this.”

WDAF visited Karen Sue Lovell, who filed the liens and is listed as manager of the Summerfield HOA in a letter she sent to the owners.

Lovell didn’t even open the door to his house. Speaking from behind a window, she said she had no comment.

Later, Lovell’s attorney wrote to the WDAF that Lovell believed the neighborhood should have an HOA to pay for upkeep of the land containing the neighborhood’s drainage basin. Lovell lives in Independence, away from the Summerfield neighborhood.

The other person behind the fake Summerfield HOA was even harder to reach.

Al Roberts is in federal prison, convicted of $3 million in mortgage fraud. Roberts, a retired Kansas City teacher, formed Column’s Park, the company behind the HOA. Roberts also sent the initial invoices to the owners.

Ford, the attorney hired by the owners, said he spoke with Roberts after that first bill arrived.

“I very kindly said, ‘What the hell are you thinking? said Ford, who then informed Roberts that what he was doing was illegal.

“I thought I raised him properly, but apparently not,” Ford said.

A relative of Roberts told WDAF that Roberts still ran the business from his federal prison cell. That’s something Column’s Park’s attorney denied.

The good news is that with Ford’s help, the liens have now been released. However, neighbors fear there is nothing to prevent it from happening again.

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