Seven years ago, Renee Abuton realized she was juggling too much — student loans, car payments, mortgage payments and homeowners association fees.
Abuton, then a single parent, declared bankruptcy and let the mortgage company repossess her Pasco County home. Once the company had the property, she figured, it would start paying the HOA fees.
Although Abuton had been locked out in 2008, the lender didn’t take title to the house until several years later. In the meantime, while the house remained in her name, she was responsible for all HOA fees that accrued.
A new treasurer of an HOA in New Smyrna Beach, In checking the finances she discovered that $500,000 was missing from the finances. A forensic audit was conducted and the manager of the HOA was convicted and sentence to one year and one day. Among other items the manager used the money for was a cruise trip to Alaska with her boyfriend. This is true folks, and is a fact. Do not let your HOA try to silence you when you ask probing questions.
More than 250 South Florida condo residents marched Saturday through the streets of Doral to demand that authorities take steps to stop a wave of fraud hitting their neighborhoods.
With posters, flags and whistles, the group of protesters marched through downtown Doral shouting about alleged abuses by their board of directors and the private companies hired to manage the condominiums.
“We want our demands heard in Tallahassee,” said William Mendieta, one of the organizers of the march and resident of the Las Vistas condos in Doral. “We have left behind apathy and indifference to unite with other condos so that together we can make one request: Justice!”
It was the fifth public protest since an investigation by el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 in March revealed the systematic frauds facing condos in Miami-Dade County — including at least 84 fraudulent votes in November election for the board of directors at The Beach Club condos in Fontainebleau Park, and a fraudulent bidding process in which a company won a $5.2 million contract in a competition against two front companies.
On July 1, Florida law was amended to give condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners’ associations throughout Florida the right to conduct membership votes online. While online voting has been permitted for some time in other states, this new law represents a sea change for Florida’s more than 60,000 community associations.
For communities with a large percentage of investor and snowbird owners, online voting gives these owners a newfound opportunity to participate in important membership votes in their association. Currently, many of these owners are unable to timely return voting materials and they are disenfranchised as a result. Even for owners who are local but do not wish to attend meetings or send in a proxy, online voting may spark an increase in their participation.
After diving into his stepdaughter’s neighborhood squabbles, a well-known top official at the property appraiser’s office has been charged with a crime, accused of keying a car to get revenge.
Ron Cacciatore, a former captain at Broward Sheriff’s Office who was the right-hand man to the late Sheriff Nick Navarro, stands charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
The story about the arrest of the former acting president of a homeowners’ association in Sunrise, Florida prompted me to remind community leaders of the most common fraud techniques. It has been a long time since we visited this issue in Condo Associations & HOAs Losing Millions Nationwide.
Fraud and theft in community associations seem to be more prevalent than ever. In many cases the fraud occurred over a period of several years and it is just being discovered now. In the recent case reported in the Sun-Sentinel, funds were allegedly transferred directly from the association’s account to former acting president’s personal accounts. Typically the methods utilized are not that obvious, so do you know what to look for?
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