Sibling rivalry is one thing, but swindling this sort of sister crosses the line.
Teresa Nadia Pedulla, an Australian homeowner who had been living abroad with an order of Italian nuns, is being awarded $3.8 million by the New South Wales government after her brother illegally sold her estate, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Pedulla, who had left her Sydney home for more than five years to live in cloisters with the nuns, discovered that her brother and two accomplices had taken out several mortgages against the home in her absence, and finally sold it for $3.8 million in March of this year.
The brother, Fernando Rene Panetta, and his wife Anna Lam each made off with $684,890.92, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. They left the country on separate flights and their whereabouts remain unknown.
A third accomplice, Lewis Fineman Yee, is charged with fraudulently claiming to be Pedulla's attorney and helping to illegally transfer the property to her brother for the nominal fee of $1.
As if the circumstances of the theft were not sensational enough, it was revealed in court that Yee has had a long-term intimate relationship with Anna Lam, who has presumably absconded with her current husband and co-conspirator, Fernando Panetta.
And while the details of the Pedulla case may seem outlandish, title deed fraud is becoming increasingly common, especially in the hardest-hit states of America. In Florida, homeowners are especially prone to a scheme known as "quitclaim fraud."
The combination of a vast inventory of vacant homes, coupled with Florida's very public property records, allows scammers to forge signatures, steal personal information, and ultimately claim ownership before the bona fide owner is even notified of the transfer. Learn how to protect yourself from quitclaim fraud in this post from AOL Real Estate
While Sydney's legal system may have intervened on this victim's behalf, justice is not always so swift back stateside.
'Quitclaim' Foreclosure Scam Could Cost You Your Home
Victims of 'Robo-Signing': Fight the Machine!
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