New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman helped New Yorkers get their money back from a Dominican condo scam, as reported by the Daily News.
Danilo Diaz and David Rivas had to pay $534, 000 to 29 victims of a fraudulent scheme to manipulate New York immigrants from the Dominican Republic to buy “luxury” condos in a gated community called Pueblo Bavaro in the Punta Cana resort region. The scam attracted 90 buyers who were told they could get a luxury condo for a steal at $40, 000 to $90, 000.
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Turns out, Diaz and Rivas were the ones doing the stealing, as many of those who made down payments were not given titles to the property. Those who visited their “luxury” condo found homes that were falling apart, in crime ridden areas where the garbage was not collected.
The ads appeared on Spanish language TV between 2004 and 2011 and featured Danilo Diaz, who was special assistant to Dominican President Danilo Medina and who inspired confidence in viewers, given his political influence. He even came to New York and gave a presentation of Pueblo Bavaro, with 50 Dominican immigrants in attendance. Buyers made down payments of between $9, 000 and $33, 000, but saw that their slice of Heaven was a piece of Hell with squatters, vermin infestation, and basic slum conditions.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who led the effort to return $534, 000 so far to the buyers, said, according to the Daily News, “New Yorkers must have the confidence, when interacting with foreign corporations that do business in this state. And those corporations that break the laws and then leave the state and the country will not escape our reach.”
Diaz and Rivas had the chutzpah to deny wrongdoing, even as they paid restitution. Their attorney Boris Kogan’s gratitude, however, implies that he probably expected the punishment to be a lot worse, and he said, “Everyone worked hard to accomplish this agreement and it was satisfactory to both sides, ” (translated for his clients to say, “I saved your asses, guys.”)
Pueblo Bavaro spokespeople blamed the housing crisis for the problem, and when asked why those who made down payments didn’t get their titles for ten years, said that the process in the Dominican Republic is slow.