Brooklyn family targeted by real estate scam fights to save home

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A Brooklyn family targeted by real estate scam is speaking out, aided by city officials as they look for ways to save their home of 30 years.

Borough President Eric Adams joined the Griffiths family Tuesday to decry the epidemic of housing theft taking place across Brooklyn, and they also announced a GoFundMe campaign dedicated to helping the family with the cost of legal services.

Daughter Dorris Briggs says her father Darius Griffths signed an agreement five years ago thinking he was saving the family house in Bedford Styvesant. But he was actually being duped into selling it.

"My dad was coerced into signing a contract, under the influence, outside on a corner, on the top of a car, in the middle of a street, with no attorney present," Briggs said.

It happened in 2014 during an afternoon of drinking. The family believes Griffiths was targeted because he was behind in his mortgage payments, and they say the whole deal was shady.

"Can't sleep at night," he said. "Even if you get the food, you can't eat it, because the kids are going to be displaced."

He never received a copy, no money was exchanged, and the lawyer listed as his representative has been convicted of fraud. Additionally, the sale price of $630,000 is about half the value.

"We are watching long term homeowners being forced out of their community," Adams said.

Now, Adams is calling for an investigation into deed transfer scams that prey on homeowners in this gentrifying neighborhood.

"These homes are not just brick and mortar," he said. "They have historically been the institutional wealth of black and brown communities, and this story here personifies the struggles that black and brown family owners are experiencing in this borough."

The family, meanwhile, had continued paying their mortgage and only found out in January it had been paid off. Now, they expect to be served with an eviction notice Friday.

"There's eight people ranging from age 2 to 65 with nowhere to go," Briggs said.

The GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family cover attorney fees, and Adams is asking the district attorney to look into the sale and hopefully block it from happening.

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