In a saga that has caused outrage, Washington DC sold a $134 delinquent tax bill owed by Bennie Coleman, a 76 year old ex-United States Marine with dementia. The company that purchased the lien then piled on fees and charges that snowballed it into a $5,000 bill. Local governments across the country have adopted the practice of selling delinquent tax liens to well-heeled investors who then proceed to pile on huge fees and surcharges, snowballing the bill into an unmanageable debt, and foreclose and evict stunned homeowners. In Washington DC alone, investors have foreclosed on 200 homes and are poised to acquire 1,200 more.

Read Coleman’s heartbreaking story and more accounts of predatory tax lien purchases in the Washington Post