Sunday, June 16, 2024

Home construction scheme defrauded more than 100 people in Oaxaca

A law firm in Oaxaca allegedly defrauded more than 100 people with a home construction scam. Two years after they parted with their cash, the mostly poor victims are still waiting for justice – and to get their money back.

A group of 45 people who say they collectively lost more than 700,000 pesos (US $34,500) are among those who reported the apparent fraud to state authorities. The accused are due to appear in court on Wednesday.

According to a report by the newspaper El Universal, Isthmus of Tehuantepec residents handed over between 10,000 and 20,000 pesos (US $493-$986) each to Ciudad Ixtepec-based law firm Posada y Asocia2 in 2020 on the understanding they were paying for the construction of environmentally-friendly homes that would be completed in just six weeks.

The law firm was promoting an eco-home construction program, and claimed it was collaborating with the global humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger, according to documents the residents received.

However, the homes were never built and the residents have been unable to recover their money.

María de los Ángeles Juárez, a resident of the municipality of Matías Romero, told El Universal that she first heard about the scheme from a woman called Amanda Toledo, a municipal employee in Juchitán who apparently collaborated on the alleged fraud with Posada y Asocia2.

She said that Toledo offered the construction of eight homes for needy people in Matías Romero. The price per house was just 10,000 pesos.

To gain people’s confidence, Posada y Asocia2 showed those interested a model home that was built in a poor neighborhood of Juchitán. The law firm also began construction of one home in Matías Romero, but it was never completed. Ricardo Posada of Posada y Asocia2 said that a lack of building materials prevented its conclusion.

At that time, the law firm had already received eco-home payments from more than 100 people.

“I trusted Amanda and looked for people who really had a need for a home,” de los Ángeles said.

“I started with eight people, but my group grew to 50. Later another group with more than 100 people was created but I’m only speaking about my group, which was defrauded more than 700,000 pesos,” she said.

Oaxaca municipality of Matías Romero.
Many of the people who thought they would get new homes live in the Oaxaca municipality of Matías Romero.

“They’re poor people, all of them had to look for the money in order to hand over 10,000 pesos, … some gave 20,000 pesos for two houses. It really was a fraud,” de los Ángeles said.

She discovered that people in the towns of Juchitán, Ixhuatán and Ixtepec, among others, were swindled by Posada y Asocia2.

The law firm didn’t respond to a request from El Universal to offer its version of events. De los Ángeles said that complaints against 15 people, including Toledo and Posada, were filed with the Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office.

The accused were summoned to a court hearing last Wednesday but didn’t show up. They are scheduled to appear at a second hearing on Wednesday.

One of the alleged victims is Julieta Rueda, a 69-year-old Matiás Romero woman who paid 20,000 pesos for two homes. Unsurprisingly, she regrets handing over her money to Posada y Asocia2.

Among the other alleged victims are the sisters Eva and Elsa Santiago Sánchez, Zapotec textile artisans in Álvaro Obregón, a community in Juchitán.

Other artisans and tortilla chip makers were also deceived by the law firm, El Universal reported, noting that one group of 32 women gave 220,000 pesos to Posada y Asocia2 and spent more than 400,000 pesos on foundations for the promised eco-homes.

Some women were convinced to buy a home after they were given rice, beans and sugar free of charge, said Eva Santiago.

“In the town of Álvaro Obregón the women are poor and survive with what they sell. A lot pawned their jewelry, sold their animals and asked for loans to be able to give the money [to Posada y Asocia2],” she said.

“… We believed in Ricardo Posada because we needed a home, … but we were deceived,” said tortilla chip maker Rosalida Pineda López.

With reports from El Universal 

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