This article is part 1 of 3. The whole series: Part 1 —Homes for the taking: Liens, Loss and Profiteers Part 2 — As federal agents investigated a sweeping bid-rigging scheme at Maryland’s tax auctions, some of those same suspects were in the District, engaging in dozens of rounds of unusual bidding. Coming Monday Part 3 — District tax officials have made hundreds of mistakes in recent years by declaring property owners delinquent even after they paid their taxes, forcing them to fight for their homes. Coming Tuesday. Washington Post: Left with Nothing (Sept 8 2013) On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb. Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go. All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill. The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes. For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid. But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.