What to do about possible fraud regarding the purchse of a manufactured home?

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What to do about possible fraud regarding the purchse of a manufactured home?

My husband and I purchased a new manufactured home, paying the full amount in cash, 3 months ago. The estimated completion date was almost a month ago. We recently found out that the home was never ordered, however the company owner told us several months ago that our money was “at the factory.” He also stated that he had already received all of the permits needed but he has not applied for/received any of them. We have since found out about 3 other familes that were in the same situation with this business owner. He continuously makes excuses or does not return messages and phone calls. What legal rights do we have concerning this issue?

Asked on September 26, 2012 under General Practice, New Mexico

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have two different sets of options:  civil and criminal.  The civil is fairly up front-- his actions represent a breach of your contract, fraud, false advertising, and all of the usual civil claims that can be filed against a duped consumer.  Civil suits, however, do tend to cost money.  However, you mention that there are three other families that have had the same issues.  You may want to see if these three other families would join in with you to have an attorney file a civil suit on behalf of all of the parties which will significantly reduce the costs of any law suit.

Your next option is for all of the families to contact your local law enforcement agency and file a theft by fraud charge.  One disgruntled consumer can be passed off as bad business, however, four cheated families looks like more of a deliberate attempt to defraud.  Depending on the size of the district attorney's office in your area, you may also be able to file a complaint under their "white collar" section.  As an additional measure, file a complaint with the attorney general's office in your state.  State attorney generals tend to jump on white collar crime more quickly than other types. 

Regardless of which option pans out, you can go with one, the other, or both criminal and civil-- to maximize your chances of getting your money back-- pursue both.


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