Florida police arrested a Middleburg couple Monday and charged the two with grand theft, forgery and unlawful filing of a deed after Clay County sheriff’s deputies said they were caught squatting in a vacant mansion.
WJXT News reports Justin and Jenna Dean, 24 and 23 respectively, allegedly replaced locks on the six-bedroom home, which is worth over $1 million, and moved in.
Deputies said the couple filed forged documents and a fake quit claim deed on the 240-acre property which had been in foreclosure since 2011.
Then they began bragging about it on social media.
“This is the house we just bought. We have a lot of work to do, it’ll take some time but Rome wasn’t built overnight,” Jenna Dean is said to have posted to her Facebook page.
“There were pictures of them in the pool on social media,” Clay County Detective Steven Dugger told First Coast News. “The only furniture in the house was a pool table.”
Friends began posting responses to pictures and asking questions, according to The Florida Times-Union.
“It’s amazing ... way better than you made it sound!” one said. “I’m totally jealous!”
“How do you guys find such amazing places?” asked another.
“Takes years of looking and harassing banks about their foreclosures,” Jenna Dean posted in response. “I should start my own business.”
The couple reportedly claimed they acquired the home for $1,000.
But Dugger says the couple picked the wrong time to try to pretend the home belonged to them.
Just a month after they moved in, another couple, from Ohio, purchased the property legitimately for $1.1 million.
“They were upset because they were coming for a closing and then they had to come meet with us,” Dugger said.
The investigation into the Deans’ actions began back in September. That was when a deputy, acting on a tip from the property manager, went to check on the home. The Deans reportedly gave that deputy a tour of the home and produced a cell phone photo of the quit claim deed as proof that they owned the home.
Police say the couple forged the signatures on the document and the notary stamp was dated Sept. 1, a holiday when the bank where they claimed to get it notarized would have been closed.
“The quit claim deed that was filed was fraudulent; it was made up of pieces of other deeds where the signatures were on the correct deed and used on the other deed,” Dugger said.
The Deans turned themselves in Monday. They have since been released on bond. They did not return calls for comment.