DALLAS (WITI) — It's a scary reality for anyone who owns property — thieves are figuring out how to steal land without the owners knowing it.
"It would make you mad if somebody takes something from you," said fraud victim, Margaret Jennings.
Jennings says she still doesn't understand how she lost her family's land to a con artist.
"I just don’t understand how he could go around town and get the deeds," Jennings said.
She is talking about Norris Fisher. Postal inspectors say he stole properties by using phony documents, forged deeds and contracts with fake notary signatures.
"He would file deed after deed on the property using fraudulent notary stamps that he had made up. He would then often take out the mineral rights and separate that from the actual property. In many cases, those properties would be sold to different people even though he never even owned them," U.S. Postal Inspector Amanda McMurrey explained.
Fisher filed 475 documents on 152 properties worth almost $4 million and $185,000 in mineral royalties — royalties collected if the land is mined and produces something of value.
Most of the lots were small and vacant, which is why he was able to continue this scam for so long.
Dozens of victims like Jennings are still trying to unravel the paper trail Fisher left behind.
"I need a lawyer and I’m not able to get a lawyer. So, I went to the legal aide," Jennings explained.
She says the process to get her land back has turned into a long and expensive nightmare.
"Some of these land transfers have not been cleared up yet," McMurrey said.
If you are a land owner, be on the lookout for any signs that someone might have stolen your property.
"Make sure that you watch out for that tax appraisal notice. There is nothing more certain than death and taxes. And, if most of these victims had been aware that they had not received that tax notice, they probably would have found that the property had changed owners much faster," McMurrey revealed.
"It still stays with me. It never leaves me… I’m still hurt over it," Jennings said.
Fisher is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence and was ordered to pay more than $4.6 million dollars in restitution to his victims.