Hundreds duped in free house give away scam in Detroit

Sign a petition, win a free house -- as the saying goes, if sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That was exactly the case for hundreds of people who reportedly gathered outside a courthouse in Detroit Wednesday morning, after they fell prey to a scam from a group dubbed the Detroit Free Housing Project.

The group tweeted out a message promoting the event that took place on the Fourth of July, promising to give away free homes in exchange for signing a petition, The Detroit News reported.

“The FREE Homes Fair will be a part of the Black Independence Day proceedings in which the main event is a special referendum/vote by the people of Detroit to withdraw consent from current government and their policies and consent to a new council that will give the homes away free to those in need at the Fair,” the group said on its website.

City officials tweeted early Wednesday morning warning residents that the free home giveaway “is NOT a legitimate city event/program.”

The group also posted a Facebook message from early April that read in part, “FREE HOMES! Hundreds of thousands of empty properties like these in Detroit lawfully belong to THE PEOPLE of Detroit,” appearing to help get out the word of Wednesday’s event.

Detroit officials said the event was organized by Ramzu Yunus, a leader in the African-American sovereign movement, according to the Detroit News. Because he did not have a permit for Wednesday's event, Yunus reportedly received a citation.

Yunus orchestrated a similar event two years ago that also offered free homes and cash, in which he was arrested, according to the paper. Roughly 300 people showed up for that event.

Officials are planning to investigate the incident, the paper reported.

Benjamin Brown is a reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473.