Bank of America Takes Florida Squatter to Court Over $2.5 Million Mansion
(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Bank of America is taking a Florida man to court after he attempted to use an antiquated state law to legally take possession of a $2.5 million mansion that is currently owned by the bank.
Andre "Loki" Barbosa has lived in a five-bedroom Boca Raton, Fla., waterside property since July, and police have reportedly been unable to remove him.
The Brazilian national, 23, who reportedly refers to himself as "Loki Boy," cites Florida's "adverse possession" law, in which a party may acquire title from another by openly occupying their land and paying real property tax for at least seven years.
The house is listed as being owned by Bank of America as of July 2012, and that an adverse possession was filed in July. After Bank of America foreclosed on the property last year, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser's Office was notified that Barbosa would be moving in, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that he posted a notice in the front window of the house naming him as a "living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury." On Facebook, a man named Andre Barbosa calls the property "Templo de Kamisamar."
After Barbosa gained national attention for his brazen attempt, Bank of America filed an injunction on Jan. 23 to evict Barbosa and eight unidentified occupants.
In the civil complaint, Bank of America said Barbosa and other tenants "unlawfully entered the property" and "refused to permit the Plaintiff agents entry, use, and possession of its property." In addition to eviction, Bank of America is asking for $15,000 in damages to be paid to cover attorney's expenses.
Police were called Dec. 26 to the home but did not remove Barbosa, according to the Sentinel. Barbosa reportedly presented authorities with the adverse possession paperwork at the time.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Povery Law Center, says police officers may be disinclined to take action even if they are presented with paperwork that is invalid.
"A police officer walks up to someone who is claiming a house now belongs to him, without any basis at all, is handed a big sheaf of documents, which are incomprehensible," Potok said. "I think very often the officers ultimately feel that they're forced to go back to headquarters and try to figure out what's going on before they can actually toss someone in the slammer."
A neighbor of the Boca property, who asked not be named, told ABCNews.com that he entered the empty home just before Christmas to find four people inside, one of whom said the group is establishing an embassy for their mission, and that families would be moving in and out of the property. Barbosa was also among them.
The neighbor said he believes that Barbosa is a "patsy."
"This young guy is caught up in this thing," the neighbor said. "I think it's going on on a bigger scale."
Barbosa could not be reached for comment.
The neighbor said that although the lights have been turned on at the house, the water has not, adding that this makes it clear it is not a permanent residence. The neighbor also said the form posted in the window is "total gibberish," which indicated that the house is an embassy, and that those who enter must present two forms of identification, and respect the rights of its indigenous people.
"I think it's a group of people that see an opportunity to get some money from the bank," the neighbor said. "If they're going to hold the house ransom, then the bank is going to have to go through an eviction process.
"They're taking advantage of banks, where the right hand doesn't know where the left hand is," the neighbor said. "They can't clap."
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