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Investigation: RGV Home Buyers Fall Victim to Housing Industry FraudPosted: Updated: Nov 23, 2016 12:06 AM
MISSION – A home building company, self-proclaimed as the leading builder in the Rio Grande Valley, is leaving homeowners with less than what they agreed to.
Abigail Garcia is an aspiring law student. She said her husband, Francisco Garcia, dreamed of getting a place of their own, so they started doing business with Prestige Luxury Homes.
Garcia said her husband’s credit wasn’t going through. However, the company said they would move forward with a deal in spite of the credit problems.
Garcia said the company didn’t want checks, so they paid $8,000 in cash to secure their home.
“We didn’t get a contract stating if it doesn’t go right, you know, that they’re going to take away so much. And that’s what happened to us,” she said.
The law student said a sudden job loss meant making a tough decision and postponing their first home dream.
The Garcias said they tried getting their deposit back, but were met with denials.
In April, the company told them they’d give them a check for $7,000 in the upcoming months. That was $1,000 short of their deposit money.
That was April. CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with the couple in early October. They said they still hadn’t received their check.
Abigail sought help from a previous employer, a law firm she believed would have her family’s best interest at heart. The couple also took their case to the Better Business Bureau and filed a report with the McAllen Police Department.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted Prestige Luxury Homes. We were told no one was available to answer out questions. Moments later, Marco Doria called us and said he did indeed pay the Garcias $7,000.
The Hidalgo County Appraisal District records show Doria’s mother is the owner of Prestige Luxury Homes. While in the call, he informed the refund was made a week before.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS then contacted Abigail Garcia and learned she hadn’t received any money.
However, Hidalgo County records provided a paper trail of transactions. There were contracts that led us to a familiar location.
In that location, we found a group of strangers turned neighbors close to the Garcia’s onetime dream home.
The neighbors said they also had bad experiences with the company.
Mission resident Miguel Rodriguez said he recently moved from Tennessee. He said he is also a victim of Prestige Luxury Home’s business. In all, five different families said they had issues after purchasing houses from Prestige Luxury Homes.
Rodriguez said the company even tried getting him to pay a cash deposit without a receipt or contract.
“I don’t trust that easy. I’m not giving someone that much money,” he said.
Rodriguez is currently under contract. He said his house was supposed to be ready in May, but by June it was still incomplete.
“I’m not asking for anything extra. I’m asking for what we agree upon from the beginning,” he said.
The home Abigail and Francisco Garcia wanted to buy is off the market. However, the company’s website still lists the house. Another listing showed a home located several feet away from Rodriguez’s home.
The residents said they are warning potential homebuyers of the unfinished product they could end up purchasing.
“I’ve been stopping about 10 people… I come in and show them this stuff and they’re like, ‘Oh my, what’s the rest of the house going to look like?’” said a resident.
He said he’d rather deal with a vacant lot than have another family make a deal with Prestige Luxury Homes.
Marco Doria first told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he’d paid Abigail Garcia $7,000 in cash. A week later, he sent us a text message. We then examined all the documents he sent and found:
- Copies of two cashier’s checks. Each for $7,000. That was double the amount the Garcias were owed.
- One cashier’s check was from the finance side of Prestige Luxury Homes called YD & MD Investments. The second came directly from Prestige Luxury Homes.
According to the county appraisal district records, YD & MD Investments have the same owner.
Records also showed two payment receipts were made out for each cashier’s check. Each was made out to the Garcia’s attorney, Leo Pruneda. Attached to the documents was a press release directed to us.
We found check number 1868 on the payment receipt for the first $7,000. There was no reference to the second check.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS wanted to know why there was two checks and who had the money, so we went to see Pruneda.
“I understand this is his personal account and it shouldn’t have been drawn from there. This one he told me was Prestige Luxury Home’s account,” Pruneda explained. “Forty-five minutes later, he was in my office again with this one from Prestige. Because one, it would have cleared it up. It would have been a refund from Prestige Luxury Homes, who is the entity that got the money from Abigail and her husband. And he took that one back, the original one and I said fine. I gave him a receipt for this one and as far as I’m concerned, it’s squared away.”
CHANNEL 5 NEW made several attempts to contact Abigail. We wanted to know if she had her $7,000 in hand.
Garcia replied through text saying, “I did receive the check. I stayed with $6,300 after attorney fees. Prestige didn’t want any media. That’s the only way I would get my money back within the day. My attorney advised me to listen and take the check; otherwise we would be in a battlefield for months. Sorry.”
The attorney we talked to indicated in his interview that one of those cashier’s checks was returned to its owner. We don’t know if both of the checks were cashed.
The Better Business Bureau still does not have a response from Prestige Luxury Homes on the Garcia’s complaint. The case was closed unanswered.
BBB gave Prestige Luxury Homes a D+ rating.