Police officer pleads guilty to scamming empty properties

Written on the 29 May 2020

Police officer pleads guilty to scamming empty properties

A Victorian Police officer Rosa Catherine Rossi, who the state's anti-corruption watchdog alleges used her police connections to attempt to take possession of six properties.

The officer targeted three properties in Willaura, near Ararat, and three in Melbourne's suburbs and claimed them as her own under adverse possession laws, the County Court heard recently.

Adverse possession - colloquially dubbed squatters' rights - entitles someone to legally own a vacant property if they can prove they have exclusively occupied it for at least 15 years.

Rossi researched the obscure laws before identifying suitable homes and fraudulently requesting councils and utility companies transfer documents into her name. She then rented the homes out and was paid $10,000 by a couple who stayed at a Chadstone property for several months, and was paid $3000 in rent for a Brooklyn home.

The real owners were people who lived overseas, had moved interstate or purchased the properties for investment or demolition. The owner of one Willaura home told the court he was living in South Africa when friends contacted him to alert him of trespassers on the Victorian property.

She and the owner later negotiated for her to buy the property on the condition that he wouldn't press charges, until she sent a cheque that bounced and eventually said she couldn't get a loan.

If you have an empty home and you happen to live interstate or overseas. Here are some tips to ensure you do not get any unwanted visitors.

- Securing your doors and windows with deadlocks and safety screens.
- Installing security devices, such as a home alarm system, motion-sensor lighting or security cameras.
- Ask a trusted family member, friend or property manager to inspect.
- Keeping your property well maintained to ensure the home doesn't look unoccupied.
- Clearing mail from the letterbox frequently, so it doesn't pile up.

Need to know more about squatters rights? Call Noble on 1300 242 083 or visit our website https://www.noblemg.com.au/

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