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Monday, February 24, 2020
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Residential Real Estate

Amatuer Detective Work Helps Pinpoint Source of Illegal Signs

SBJ Staff

11/23/2009 - Elizabeth Scott learned a thing or two from her father, the late Savannah homicide detective Robert Scott.

For one, she learned how to track someone down. Her sleuthing led to the identity of an individual code enforcement officials have been seeking to cite for illegal posting of real estate signs in Scott’s Bacon Park neighborhood and elsewhere.

Part of her job as director of the Bacon Park Homeowners Association is to combat visual blight. She became especially irritated by the 1-800-SELLNOW signs that began showing up on utility poles, trees and at intersections in the sprawling Bacon Park area that stretches from DeRenne Avenue south to Montgomery Crossroad and west from Sallie Mood Drive to LaRoche Avenue.

“It started about June. All of a sudden one morning they were everywhere,” she said.

“He’d put them up, we’d take them down. By the next week, he’s back with them.”

By then the posters had moved the signs farther up the poles and trees. “I took a few down that I could reach,” Scott said.

She had been in touch with Savannah code enforcement previously and made a second contact with it after the signs went higher up the poles. She insisted they identify the offender and begin enforcement action.

“This time they acted reluctant,” Scott said. “I can understand how they could get worn out with them. As soon as they’d take them down, they (the posters) would come back with more of them.”

Scott said she concluded that she would have to identify the illegal poster and turn her findings over to inspectors..
“I started on Twitter,” she said. “I just hit 1-800-SELLNOW.”

She got back the name of  Kit Clotheir, who has a company in Delray Beach, Fla. A check with the Florida Secretary of State’s office confirmed Clohtier was the CEO and registered agent of 1-800-SELLNOW.

“When I found the corporate Web site, I called in as if I was interested in purchasing a Chatham County” license to represent 1-800-SELLNOW, Scott said.

She said they told her the terrirory had already been bought by Johnson Root Developers.

A call to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office found that the name was registered by two different people, one far away from Savannah and the other in Chaham County. The one in Chatham County was identified as Ryan Johnson, Scott said.

In the meantime, she received a phone call from a Ryan Johnson, who had been told by 1-800-SELLNOW that she wanted to buy the Chatham County license.

“He called me. That’s how I got his cell number,” she said.

He wasn’t interested in selling his Chatham license, according to Scott, but he did share some details of his operation, especially the stealth part.

“How do you keep from getting in trouble putting up the signs,” Scott said she asked him.

Late night work is the key to erecting the signs, Scott said he told her.

He said he “had to do something to promote” his business, she said.

He didn’t seem interested in selling his Chatham license and sounded as if he didn’t want her to buy licenses for neighboring Bryan or Effingham counties “so he could keep the region,” Scott said.

She said she subsequently did a Google search with the name Ryan Johnson and 1-800-SELLNOW  that returned a media release by the company announcing Johnson had bought the Chatham territory license.

She said she subsequently sent her findings to Savannah and Chatham code enforcement officials and city and county officials.

“All of a sudden, the signs disappeared the next morning,” she noted.

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