Detroit officials warn of free homes scam from man saying people can occupy vacant houses

Posted at 5:44 AM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 05:44:46-04

(WXYZ) — The City of Detroit has a warning about a housing hoax, offering free houses in the city.

Officials say a man named Ramzu Yunus is back in town to push what they call a scam.

City Attorney Lawrence Garcia calls Yunus dangerous, citing his recent involvement in an armed stand-off.

There are flyers posted around town with one calling it a "human rights intervention." Yunus said all he is trying to do is empower citizens, but city leaders say they aren't buying it.

"There are no free houses in the city of Detroit," Garcia said.

He added that Yunus claims to be the leader of several organizations.

This isn't Yunus' first time using the free home sales pitch. In the past, he's made noise at rallies promising free homes.

Yunus and members of his organization tell Detroiters they have the right to occupy vacant homes without owning them. The city has a definition for that.

"That's squatting or trespassing and it's illegal," Garcia said.

He tells us there are dozens of victims who have fallen for this scam. People sign up for a home and Yunus gives them a deed, similar to the one on your screen, but it's not a legitimate document.

Wayne County Circuit Court recently issued Yunus an injunction on behalf of the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Land Bank said, "Our goal is to stop his housing misinformation campaign that is creating confusion, encouraging people to trespass, and issuing fake deeds."

Last month, Yunus was involved in a stand-off when a security company tried to evict him out of a home. He locked himself in the house and a gun went off. Police arrested him.

"I am dangerous to a corrupt regime called the Detroit city government. I am dangerous, not violently but dangerous to them trying to reach their selfish objectives," Yunus said. "I'm just letting the people know that they do have the power, they don't have to be homeless when there is an abundance of homes in the city of Detroit."

City officials are saying the homes are not free, and there is still an active case in front of a Wayne County judge to resolve some of the problems caused by Yunus.