Without warning or a court order, on Monday, Nov. 7, workers changed the locks and started throwing out the belongings of a Bed-Stuy family’s brownstone, located at 470 Willoughby Ave., according to the property’s owner, Moses Foster.

Foster said he called the police five times, and no one showed up.

On Thursday, nearly 20 concerned neighbors gathered in front of Foster’s stoop to discuss the next steps and pay for a locksmith to change back the locks.

The Foster family — Moses, Salvanita and their two children — lived in the brownstone beginning in 1999, when they purchased the property and took out a mortgage, according to the Automated City Register Information System. It is the home where the Fosters raised their two kids, who are now young adults.

The couple owned the property legally until 2006, when, through an alleged act of deed fraud, the title was transferred to another owner (whose name and identity BK Reader chooses to keep private), along with the entity, “470 Willoughby LLC,” Salvanita said.

According to the ACRIS, the current deed is in the name of the new owner. The Fosters tried to sue the new owner in 2011 and have been attempting to get their property back ever since.

470 Willoughby Ave. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.
470 Willoughby Ave. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

Deed theft is a crime that usually involves deceiving a homeowner into signing forms that transfer ownership of a property, under the guise of financial assistance, with the goal of selling it at a huge profit in high-demand housing markets.

How did the alleged deed theft happen?

Salvanita said she had attempted to refinance the mortgage in 2006 when a tenant in her three-story home stopped paying rent. Somewhere in the refinancing process, the deed was transferred without the Fosters’ knowledge, Salvanita said.

Then after a fire in their home in 2019, the Fosters went to stay with family nearby in Brooklyn while making arrangements to move back in. They were still receiving all of their mail to 470 Willoughby Ave. and all of their furniture, personal belongings and legal documents were still in the brownstone.

Now, the family’s belongings, including passports and pictures of deceased family members, have been discarded.

Salvanita Foster (right) and Lauren Cawdrey (left). Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.
Salvanita Foster (right) and Lauren Cawdrey (left). Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

” … All my important stuff is gone: my documents, my furniture, photos of my mom, everything is gone. The lady who took the deed, this is wrong what she did. We’ve been paying an attorney trying to fight these people who took our deeds,” Salvanita said, through tears.

“We did everything by the books.”

Nov. 10, at 1:00pm, neighbors gathered at 470 Willoughby Ave. to support the Fosters. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.
Nov. 10, at 1:00pm, neighbors gathered at 470 Willoughby Ave. to support the Fosters. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

“The bottom line is, you can’t throw somebody’s stuff away and say ‘I own this now’ and change the locks without a court-issued document,” said Lauren Cawdrey, a concerned neighbor who owns a business on Willoughby Avenue.

“There was no cause or reason for this illegal eviction to happen, but most importantly, even if this had been a legal eviction, they still have a right to their property,” said Imani Henry, the founder of Equality for Flatbush, a local grassroots mutual aid advocacy organization.

“By law, you’re still supposed to put it in storage for 30 days. This is grand theft, this is grand larceny. This is about people’s greed, cruelty and anti-blackness,” Henry said.

Henry added that this was not even the first deed theft case E4F responded to in the area this month.

“Bed-Stuy is deed theft land,” Henry said.

Miranda Levingston

Covering everything Brooklyn. Twitter: @MLevNews

Join the Conversation

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  1. A person’s home is their castle 🏰 and no one should be put thru such a embarrassing and emotional situation like that 😪 😔..

  2. This story hut home for me. Prayers to the entire family. By grace no one was home that could have been exilated.
    I feel your pain. I have a issue myself and need legal representation to litigate a declaratory judgement. Theft is occurring alot lately. I live in Harlem. If there is anyone that can guide me in a direction of a lawyer agency or journalist that is available to reach out my info email is [email protected]

    Enclosing again to the family going through this extreme unjustified action please keep us posted so we know your outcome. Blessings

  3. This happened to a friend of the family in Long Island. My father being a lawyer and I were able to determine that a company had slipped a deed in maids some loan papers. The state AG office knew this was going on in Long Island and refused to do anything.
    This is akin to cattle rustling in the old west and should be treated as a capital offense. (Hanging ) was the reward for stealing cattle.
    #local council local state Senator and the local police captain should be harassed to the ends of the earth. The workers of the company that illegally stole the possessions of this family should be arrested for theft and breaking and entering. The workers should all be arrested. The owner of the company does this all the time and the clerk at the county level must be in on the scam also.
    Follow the money. If there was no bill of sale and the mortgage was not satisfied with the transfer of the deed. Someone has went to the bank and the bank officer has a record.
    Find the money find the criminals and Justice can be mitigated out. Enough of this nonsense.

  4. How horrible that an apparent lending company fraudulently made that lady sign over the deed to her and her husbands home! I hope The Feds get involved and solve this unfortunate issue and the culprits land behind bars! Plus this family needs restitution!!!

  5. They obviously did not read before signing. We are tooo trusting… We have to Read, and if you feel uncomfortable with all that legal language, hire a lawyer to come with you and do the reading… Learn how to read this stuff so you can know what to look for.. This is aLiving nightmare…

  6. This is truly upsetting. Prayers to all of the family. This also goes back to the village. If neighbors were truly together, when their belongings were being taken someone would have called or asked what was going on? Growing up in BedStuy before gentrification we watched each other’s backs. God Bless!!!!

  7. May God intervene, due justice received. No one is above the law! What has happened to civility? All should be treated fairly! No one has multi-color blood. People are not animals. Disgraceful that animals are treated better. Theft is the great American way to perceived success.

  8. It appears this home was foreclosed and auctioned off in 2019. This can only occur if the mortgage payments were not being made. Notices should have been received about this.
    Perhaps a legal aid pro bono attorney can assist with fighting this theft. Try Brooklyn Legal Services.

  9. This is disgusting! Is there a Gofundme? I want to help. Call Mayor Adams! I pray this family can reclaim their home!

  10. I live in the area and did some research, the Fosters are not innocent they lost their case and did a fire in this building in 2019. They do not live here for years already, this place has been vacant and empty since the fire. Jennette Bowles won the court case and had the rights to sell the house.

  11. OH WOE IS ME. Just read this article about Moses and Sardanina…if i read right they did not pay any of their mortgage for 10 yrs but were getting rent paid to them for 10 YEARS!.. and did the same thing with another property Ive read. You paid no mortgage. You thought you were off scott free. No one owes you anything. Now here comes a Go fund me. When will you learn to pay your bills and stop trying to get a free ride for Everything. U must be the most unlucky people on earth. Scammers!!

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