KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City houses are burned to the ground for insurance money and now five people are on the hook for the crimes.
Residents in the neighborhoods say they’re still paying the price for the scam that has five people facing federal indictment.
Several years later, Leonard Jenkins is still haunted by the fire the ripped through a home down the street from where he lived in the 4900 block of Agnes.
"I could hear a big boom. I came outside and I could see the big blaze of fire rushing out the house," Jenkins said.
A couple of years ago, four other homes also burned to the ground in surrounding neighborhoods. Residents like Georgia McGill wanted to pack up and leave after the fire raised their home insurance rates.
"My daughter told me we should move. She's said. ‘Mommy you all should move out the neighborhood,’" McGill said.
Friday, a federal indictment points the finger at Joshua Stamps and four others claiming they bought homes only to burn them down to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance.
The federal indictment alleges Stamps led an arson and insurance fraud conspiracy between 2007 and 2013 in which he bought houses, insured them for more than they were worth, had them burned and made insurance claims on the burned houses. Stamps and his co-conspirators allegedly bought, insured and burned five houses in Kansas City.
The total actual loss to insurance companies in the scheme was $434,938, while the total intended loss was almost $1.2 million.
While the government may have caught the criminals, local realtors said residents bear the costs
"Until somebody takes the lot and builds on it, it’s just a big setback for the whole neighborhood," Kaye Brittingham, a realtor with Chartwell Realty, said. "When something like this happens, it becomes an eyesore in the neighborhood and the property values at the immediate time will go down."
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