Pasco County’s tax collector doesn’t know the source of misinformation, but people are paying homes’ back taxes and telling legal owners they no longer own the house.

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. – A new gimmick is showing up in Pasco County, where people think they can own a home quick just by paying its back property taxes.

“It’s baffling to the mind that someone would think by paying their taxes that they own a home automatically,” said Mike Fasano, Pasco County Tax Collector.

He doesn’t know how this trend started.

“Either one, people are getting this information from social media – or they’re paying some entity a lot of money to be given some false information,” Fasano said.

Fasano wanted to get the word out after an elderly woman frantically called their office on Friday.

“The person who thinks they bought the home, arrived at the home and tells the person who’s living there I own your home now. And of course this person panicked.”

The Pasco County tax collector’s office sent a letter to the individual who tried to claim the elderly woman’s home. It informed her this isn’t a real process and she could be arrested for trespassing.

“I want to make it clear to them that they do not own that home. You aren’t even close to owning that home. In fact, what you’re doing is losing money.”

It could take years to buy a delinquent home in Florida.

“If you want to do it right, you have to participate in the tax certificate sale. You have to hold on to that tax certificate for two years,” said Fasano. “Then you begin the process of having the home auctioned off.” Even then, someone else could outbid you for the home.

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