Sophisticated squatters know how to work the system. They know which houses to squat in, where, and they know how long they can expect to stay. They know how to extort property owners, asking for “cash for keys”, or demanding money in exchange for leaving the owner’s home. Gregory Russell is one of these professional squatters and scammers.
As described in this article,
He moves (or rather, breaks into) homes which are being foreclosed, and then demands money from the bank in order to move out.
“Mr. Russell is a professional con-man,” says Mark Sussman, VP of Gateway Bank.
Sussman says Russell requested $25,000 from the bank to move out.
“This was extortion,” says Sussman.
He says Gateway Bank will pay squatters to move out of foreclosures, but no more than $5,000.
Gregory Russell is the heavyset black man on the left in the photo.
It seems more than ridiculous to many that property owners should be forced to pay criminals just to remove the trespassers. It seems criminal. ANd this goes for ALL squatters, not just those who break into homes — those who receive an eviction notice and refuse to leave, are also squatters.
So why would a bank offer to pay a squatter to get out of a house that the bank owns?
“It is less expensive for the financial institutions to pay someone to move out of the house than to take them to court,” says Rodriguez.
Banks tell NBCLA it can cost $100,000 and take more than a year to evict a squatter through the court process. But neighbors, who live near the Ladera Heights home where we’ve recently seen Russell, think law enforcement should be tougher on squatters.
“Arrest them and they should prosecute them,” says one neighbor who asked not to be identified.