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Investigation: RGV Homeowners Restless Over Alleged Real Estate FraudPosted: Updated: Mar 30, 2017 11:03 PM
WESLACO – A Rio Grande Valley company is accused of defrauding many homeowners who were searching for a dream home.
Their indictment has an Edinburg family on edge. The owners of the company they bought their house from are implicated in the case.
Homeowner Celia Morales said she worries her family could lose their home.
“We haven’t bought a kitchen. We haven’t bought anything, no mirrors, no frames, no nothing because what if it’s not actually our home?” she questioned.
Morales said she saved every house payment she gave.
She bought the home from a group that called themselves Infinite Properties. She paid $20,400 in cash for the down payment, closing costs and title fees for the home.
But the owners of the company, Luis Antonio Rodriguez and Rogelio Ramos Jr., were indicted for fraud in late January.
“We’re scared, I’m scared to pay them,” she said.
Morales said she stopped making payments after Infinite Properties notified her she was making them to the wrong bank. She said they requested she change institutions.
“In the middle of November, we got a letter that we were not supposed to be making payments to Wells Fargo; now it’s going to be through Bank of America. So, I gave my payment in December to Bank of America. Then coming in January that’s when I was like, ‘Well, why did we change bank accounts?” she said.
After she demanded answers, she said one of the owners, Rogelio Ramos Jr., put a lien on her property.
“It’s registered at the courthouse with my name, my husband’s name and he has a lien on it, but is he the actual owner? Did he actually pay that home? What happened? Who do I have to pay the home? Because I don’t want to lose my house,” she said.
A lien is sometimes placed against a homeowner who owes money to the creditor, and is legal if a creditor follows state rules. Although a lien is active, a homeowner can fight to have it removed.
However, another concern for homeowners might arise. If convicted of the charges in the recent indictment, the government can send out a notice of forfeiture of all Rogelio Ramos Jr. and Luis Antonio Gomez’s property, real or personal from all traces associated with the conviction.
Documents show a total of 10 properties or subdivisions are part of the notice of forfeiture from McAllen to Houston, Texas.
Morales’ subdivision is one of them.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out the Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out what Morales can do in her case.
The federal agency sent the following statement:
“While the FBI can’t specifically comment on any pending legal matter, we would encourage members of the public, who believe they may have been defrauded, through a real estate fraud scheme, or any other fraud scheme for that matter, to contact their nearest local law enforcement agency or the FBI as soon as possible. In general, the longer the victim waits to come forward and report the alleged crime, the more difficult it may be for the government to investigate and prosecute the matter and bring justice for the victim and the community. Local law enforcement agencies within the Rio Grande Valley have been very effective in addressing localized fraud schemes. In the past, they have invited the FBI to participate in joint investigations when it appeared that a larger scale multi-jurisdictional fraud schemes were possibly victimizing our community.”
Morales said she’ll continue to hang onto those monthly payments.
“We want to know if it’s going to be an actual form given. We want our receipts. We want to know we’re actually paying for our home,” she said.
FBI officials said people should not hesitate to reach out to them if they are a potential victim.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS also wanted to know more about asset forfeiture when it applies to property.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Policy Manual of 2016, the U.S. Attorney General is issued with the responsibility to distribute forfeit assets.
Known victims will be notified by mail and unknown victims will be notified by publication. It also states all victims have the opportunity to file a petition to regain assets which may be taken away.
We also reported another business with a similar name works in the Rio Grande Valley. JRMV Property Investments, LLC, a state-registered limited liability company, also goes by the name Infinite Properties.
However, Raymundo Valdez, member of JMRV Property Investments LLC, clarified the company is not connected with Luis Antonio Rodriguez and Rogelio Ramos Jr. in the following statement:
“JRMV Property Investments, LLC is a state registered Limited Liability Company that holds an assumed name (d/b/a) under the name of “Infinite Properties” in Hidalgo County, with the intention of providing quality homes at reasonable prices to our clients. We are aware that there are persons by the names of Luis Antonio Rodriguez and Rogelio Ramos Jr. who are using the name “Infinite Properties” in an alleged effort to defraud the public in real estate transactions. However, JRMV Property Investment, LLC is in no way related to Luis Antonio Rodriguez or Rogelio Ramos Jr. and in no way connected to the dealings of these individuals. Additionally, these individuals never held any authority to represent JRMV Property Investments, LLC in any dealings, whether through our legal name or our assumed name. We denounce their actions in defrauding the public and are seriously considering pursuing legal action against these individuals for damages caused by their unauthorized use of our registered assumed name.”
A verdict in the case against the operators of Infinite Properties is still to be determined.