Texas AG Halts Father/Son Real Estate Scam Against Homeowners

April 10, 2006

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he has filed a court action to stop an El Paso, Texas, father and his two sons who operate an unlicensed “real estate” business from illegally taking earnest money from potential homeowners when the properties offered for sale face imminent foreclosures.

The suit also freezes the assets of Nebram Enterprises, operated by Gilberto Romo and his sons, Edward and Paul Romo, and stops the trio from soliciting money from consumers for property they have no right to offer for sale. They must also obtain a proper license from the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) before conducting any further business in Texas.

“First-time homeowners should never have to navigate a gauntlet of scam artists in the pursuit of the American dream of home ownership,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Today’s court filing actually halted the imminent foreclosure of a home being purchased by innocent consumers in El Paso. This exploitation must stop.”

The Romos advertised Nebram Enterprises’ services in small publications around El Paso, claiming to offer homes for sale. The men are not licensed to sell homes, and many of the homes they selected to advertised for sale were facing foreclosure. Attorney General Abbott’s suit alleges the trio has been involved in transactions on at least 33 homes.

In some cases, the Romos represented themselves as owners of the homes, yet had no titles to them, having previously sold the homes to others without the present buyers’ knowledge. The customers who contacted them about the homes spoke little English and were persuaded to sign TREC earnest money contracts and pay agreed-upon amounts to hold the “sale” as pending.

In other cases, the Romos took earnest money from unwitting consumers yet never received a signed agreement from current homeowners that the sale was acceptable. The court action, for example, asks the court to compel the Romos to immediately refund earnest money taken from a prospective buyer in October in such a scheme.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit demands the refund of all illicitly obtained money from consumers, plus civil penalties of $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

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