Florida Man Spends 17 Years Challenging Debt He Never Owed In The First Place

Imagine you wake up one day to find out that you suddenly owe nearly $100,000 on a house you’ve never owned, in a city where you’ve never resided. Should be easy enough to sort that out, right? Tell that to the Florida man who has spent the better part of two decades trying to convince creditors he didn’t buy property in Philadelphia when he was 12 years old.

The man’s saga, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, goes back to 1998, when he learned of a $98,293 judgement against him from a bank. The money was related to a property in Northeast Philadelphia that had gone into foreclosure.

The building had apparently been purchased by someone with a similar name, but in 1972, when the alleged debtor wasn’t even a teenager, let alone trying to invest in real estate.

He was the victim of lazy “skip tracers,” who do their best to connect names and dates and locations in the hopes of tracking down the correct person, but who sometimes fail miserably by, for example, not taking into account that this man could not possibly have ever owned this property.

Through a little research on his own, the man believes he may have found the correct debtor with his same name. Unfortunately, that man died back in the 1970s.

And yet, he continually receives demands for payments for significant amounts of money. There was the law firm demanding nearly $32,000. A collections action dating back to 1986 valued at $12,000. A 2011 collection notice for a city water bill he never paid, because he never lived there.

He’s been able to shoo them off as they pop up, but they just won’t go away.

Most recently, a Philadelphia law firm demanded $7,323 for delinquent taxes owed — again, by someone other than him — to the city and its school district.

There is a bright spot at the end of this long tunnel. A lawyer at the firm trying to collect this latest debt tells the Inquirer that the info from the third-party skip tracer has been flagged as wrong, which could cut down on the number of people trying to collect these age-old debts owed by someone else. Or that bright spot could just be the next debt collection train coming to barrel him over.

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