Over the last few months, several realtors and title agents have reported feelings of suspicion about an encounter with a potential client based on how the individuals identified themselves.

In each encounter, there was indeed a sovereign citizen nexus causing the question, “What were they trying to do?”

“Sovereign citizens” are not of a singular belief. There are numerous “sub-types” subscribing to different philosophies, actions, and ethnicities. Common Law Court and National Assembly Members believe that the U.S. court system is illegitimate and only utilize it as defendants or to enact retribution against individuals, public officials or government agencies. They bring their grievances, primarily against the state and federal government to their common law courts. These pseudo courts typically provide them with the outcomes they are looking for, which can be anything from bogus indictments, filing commercial liens to arrest warrants, multi-million or billion-dollar judgments or calls for execution against the person or government agency with which they are aggrieved. Moorish Sovereigns whoare both Moors and sovereigns. They believe they were America’s original inhabitants and are therefore entitled to self-governing, nation-within-a-nation status, claiming to possess territories within the United States made up of land they do not legally own.  Their supposed “magic key” to exemption from the law is their claim that they are descendants of the Moroccan “Moors” and are thus subject to the 1786 Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, which they believe gives them exemption from American law. Constitutional Sovereigns use the constitution to make claims that the federal government is illegitimate and overreaching its intended authority. The Bundy family is an example of this particular ideology. Galactic Sovereigns hold a concurrent belief that friendly aliens will visit earth and they are actively planning for this occurrence or believe that public officials and other individuals are reptilian aliens.  Finally, Tax Protesters who,based upon their sovereign beliefs, refuse to pay taxes or file tax returns out of a mistaken belief that the federal income tax is unconstitutional, invalid, voluntary, or otherwise not applicable to them using one of a number of erroneous arguments. 

The roots of the movement are racist and antisemitic. They believed that non-white people were not human, and that Jews possessed a satanic plot to take over the world. They identified themselves as Posse Comitatus, which is Latin for “power of the county” and centers on the idea that county sheriffs are the highest governmental authority.

There is a very convoluted history that leads to today’s sovereign citizen. In 1971, President Nixon took the U.S. off its gold standard (backing the U.S. dollar with gold reserves).  When he removed the standard, sovereigns believe that Nixon “pledged its citizenry as collateral, by selling their future earning capabilities to foreign investors, effectively enslaving all Americans.” (SPLC1)

According to sovereign beliefs, such enslavement begins “[W]hen a baby is born in the U.S., a birth certificate is issued, and the hospital usually advises the parents to apply for a Social Security number. Sovereigns say that the government then uses that birth certificate to set up a corporate trust in the baby’s name – a secret Treasury account – which it funds with amounts ranging from $600,000 to $20 million, depending on the particular variant of the sovereign belief system. By setting up this Treasury Direct Account (TDA), every newborn’s rights are split between those held by the flesh-and-blood baby and the ones assigned to his or her corporate shell account.” (SPLC1)

In order to gain access to their perceived, dedicated, government account, sovereigns will undertake drastic, harassing, sometimes secret, and usually bogus, actions against anyone they perceive has violated their beliefs.

These actions include the filing of false liens, frivolous lawsuits, bogus letters of credit, and other legal documents lacking sound factual basis as a method of harassment.  These actions generally target law enforcement officials, local and state officials, and judicial authorities. However, realtors and title agents have also come into the sovereign crosshairs.

In 2015, the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, issued an “Integrity Bulletin” alerting property inspectors, Section 8 Administrators, and realtors to be on the alert for Sovereign Citizen Scams.

One scam involves HUD real estate-owned (REO) properties. In many states, county clerks are required to accept and file any quit claim deed presented to them as long as the forms are properly signed, and fees are paid.  No proof of ownership (title search) is required. (HUD, 2015)

A second scam revolves around foreclosure rescues. In these cases, they get defaulted homeowners to quit claim their deeds to them with the promise of stopping the foreclosure. Then they collect monthly payments from the homeowners, promising to return the deeds in the future. Desperate

homeowners believe the lies. Eventually, banks evict the homeowners, and they have to contend with severely damaged credit histories. (HUD, 2015)

What’s Your Risk?

Sovereigns are known for filing nuisance lawsuits or liens against individuals who try to stop their

schemes, “which have involved in [sic] lender, credit card, tax, and loan frauds.” (HUD, 2015)

Because they make their own driver’s licenses, passports, license plates, and other forms of “legal” documentations, if a realtor or title agent were not to accept these documents, it could be viewed as an attempt to impede whatever scheme they were attempting to undertake. This could lead to a hostile confrontation and actions as identified above.

HUD recommends that should a sovereign go to your office,

  • Have a staff member notify law enforcement that a sovereign citizen is present and you are going to get him or her to leave as quietly as possible.
  • Let the sovereign citizen complete applications so identifying information can be obtained.
  • Do not challenge documents, such as quit claim deeds or driver’s licenses, which often are issued by the Kingdom of Heaven or a nonexistent government.
  • Do not announce any decisions or make any promises. Tell the sovereign citizen that you will contact him or her later.

Some easy sovereign identifiers:

  • Names spelled in all capital letters or interspersed with colons, hyphens, or other odd punctuation.
  • Signatures followed by “under duress,” “Sovereign Living Soul” (SLS), or a copyright symbol (©).
  • Personal seals, stamps, or thumb prints in red ink.
  • References to the Bible, the Constitution of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, treaties with foreign governments, or a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) number (UCC-201).
  • The prefix “Noble” or the suffix “Bey” or “El Bey” with their name.
  • Brackets around zip codes or other written oddities such as “in the vicinity of”.


This symbol could be displayed on the rear window of a vehicle, a house window, or door pane.

Identification card – key indicators of sovereign ideology:

  • “Free State Republic”
  • “Constitutional Protection Travel Identification and the red lettering
  • Zip code is “EXEMPT”
  • Expires: “The Day James Webb Expires”
  • “Autograph” vs signature                   

Driver’s License – Indicators of sovereign identity:

  • “Kingdom Of Heaven”
  • All caps “Royal Law Traveler Free By Grace” in red lettering
  • Zip Code “Exempt”
  • Address: “c/o General Delivery” and “Austin Texas Republic
  • “Near 78767”
  • Vitals: “Approximately Six Feet”         “A Man”          “Eyes Dark”

Below is an example of a filed, sovereign document. Key points to observe:

  • “The Continental uNited States of America”
  • Oath of office
  • USPS tracking number
  • Signatures contain hyphens, colons & are written in with red ink, certified with a thumbprint (also in red)
  • Another USPS tracking number identified as “U.S. DEPT OF STATE REGISTRY NUMBER”
  • Language in document text.

Author: David Coates

David Coates is a Virginia licensed Private Investigator who conducts risk assessments, insider threat analysis and assists in emergency preparedness planning. He is a former Naval cryptologist who has been on the forefront of the nation’s war on terrorism and served as the East Region Operations Security Officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). While at ATF, David conducted numerous risk assessments based on threats ATF agents received from sovereign citizens. He is the owner/operator of Argos Prośtatis LLC.

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