LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Tax collectors in Los Angeles County are looking for a certain D. Smith who has failed to pay taxes on a vacant lot since 1980.
The Los Angeles Times got curious about the hunt when Doug Smith, an expert on computer-assisted reporting at the paper, got first one, then two and then three certified letters asking him if he is the D. Smith in question. He isn't.
John McKinney, head of the Secured Property Tax Office, said 1,180 certified letters were mailed to D. Smiths in what he calls a "superhuman effort."
The county is antsy, McKinney said, because in 2002 it sold a house for back taxes that was still occupied by an 85-year-old man.
The mysterious D. Smith owes more than $33,000 in back taxes and penalties on the lot in South Los Angeles. If the owner fails to come forward a non-profit group has offered to buy the property for construction of a house to be sold at an affordable price.
Since Smith remains the most common surname in the United States, there is a 1 percent chance the home's owner could be named Smith.