NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A woman bought her first home in Essex County only to have someone she never met try to steal it.
Now she wants others to beware it could happen to them, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Friday.READ MORE: Viral Video Shows Unmasked NYPD Officer Pushing Masked Commuter Out Of Subway Station
First came one letter, then another. The letterhead said they were from the “Al Moroccan Empire Consulate at New Jersey state republic.”
Both were sent to Shanetta Little, the proud new owner of a home in Newark.
“He gave me like a notice basically saying [he] was going to possess the house because it’s [his] ancestral land ,” Little said. “My realtor said it’s a scam, don’t worry about it… This is literally someone trying to steal my house with papers that they printed at Kinko’s.”
But then the author of the letters went to the home with some other men back in June. He introduced himself to neighbors.
“They’re like, ‘Hi, I’m your new neighbor and I’m just changing the locks,'” said Savita Ramrattan, who lives in the neighborhood.
Little showed up at her home, which is under renovation.
“He was like, ‘What are you doing here? Can I help you,'” Little said.
Eventually the man locked himself in. SWAT teams and the bomb squad showed up and were there for hours.
“They had to kick the door down,” said Ramrattan.
“This guy had been linked to an extremist group,” said Little.
Hubert John, 39, was eventually arrested.READ MORE: Hip-Hop Improv Show 'Freestyle Love Supreme' Returns To Broadway
Newark police said John claimed to be a sovereign citizen of the Al Moroccan Empire and that his status permitted him access to the property. He had placed a Moorish flag in the window.
Little said she was a victim of “paper terrorism.”
“It’s a long time practice, unfortunately. It plays out across the country,” said Rachel Goldwasser with Southern Poverty Law Center.
“There are people that have decided that they no longer fall within the jurisdiction of the United States of America and its laws,” Goldwasser said.
Little said it didn’t end with John’s arrest. He was back in August passing out flyers to her neighbors.
“That I committed fraud to get my house and the truth would be coming out,” she said.
A lot of people told her she should just sell the house. But Little, who pulled herself out of homelessness, said she’s not backing down.
“I worked so hard for it. I’m not just gonna let some random person who feels entitled to what I work for just take it or scare me away from it,” said Little.
She said the home had been vacant before she bought it, and that’s why she thinks John targeted it.
Little worries he’ll return, but said she’ll have security measures in place.
John is charged with criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass and terroristic threats.MORE NEWS: Eligible New Jersey Residents Urged To Get COVID Booster Shot
CBS2 reached out to the group Al Moroccan Empire Consulate at New Jersey state republic, but did not hear back.