CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James and Congressman Adriano Espaillat Warn New Yorkers About Real Estate Scams Targeting the Dominican Community

CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James and Congressman Adriano Espaillat Warn New Yorkers About Real Estate Scams Targeting the Dominican Community

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Congressman Adriano Espaillat today issued a consumer alert warning New Yorkers about real estate scams targeting at the Dominican community after prosecutors in the Dominican Republic charged a businessman with scamming nearly 150 individuals in the Dominican Republic and United States – including approximately 24 New Yorkers – with fraudulent real estate listings. Emmanuel Rivera Ledesma was arrested recently for perpetrating a scheme through his company, InDisArq, that cheated each of his victims out of thousands of dollars. Rivera Ledesma targeted Dominicans living in the U.S. with advertisements for properties that either did not exist or were sold to multiple buyers and collected millions of dollars in deposits.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Congressman Espaillat have received numerous complaints from New Yorkers and out-of-state victims about this scam in recent months. Individuals who believe they may have been a victim of Ledesma’s scheme can submit complaints to OAG, which will be forwarded to prosecuting authorities in the Dominican Republic.

“New Yorkers should always be suspicious of speculative real estate deals where they are asked to buy property sight unseen,” said Attorney General James. “Purchasing real estate abroad can be complicated and expensive, and individuals should take precautions to ensure they are working with legitimate brokers. I thank Congressman Espaillat for notifying my office of this issue and am proud to work with him to ensure the victims of this scam get justice. I encourage anyone who may be a victim of a real estate scam or fraud to report it to my office.”

“As public servants, we work tirelessly to ensure residents do not fall victim to scams and other fraudulent practices, and our offices took actions once Rivera Ledesma’s improper actions through his company, InDisArq, were brought to our attention,” said Congressman Espaillat. “I commend Attorney General James for her continuous efforts to hold perpetrators and bad actors accountable. Scammers are targeting communities daily, especially minorities and seniors, and we encourage anyone who suspects they have been a scam victim to contact our offices immediately.”

“It deeply alarms me to learn about schemes aimed at exploiting the hard-earned money of working-class individuals, particularly in a city economy where many struggle to make ends meet,” said Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos. “This reprehensible behavior only exacerbates the financial challenges faced by our community. We must vehemently oppose such exploitation and redouble our efforts to safeguard the financial security of those who are most vulnerable. I thank Attorney General James and Congressman Espaillat for their tireless efforts in alerting New Yorkers and identifying further victims of this deceitful scheme. Their dedication to protecting our community from such unscrupulous practices is commendable and underscores the importance of collaborative action in safeguarding the well-being of our constituents.”

“We understand generational reinvestment in immigrant home countries is a standard across our communities, especially the Dominican community,” said City Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa. “We are incredibly disheartened by the predatory scams that have targeted those seeking to invest and focus on upward mobility. We urge Dominicans to stay vigilant and proceed with caution when addressing real estate negotiations and not be afraid to report predatory behavior to the Office of the Attorney General.”

Dominican prosecutors allege that Rivera Ledesma operated a scheme in which he advertised real estate investments in Santo Domingo primarily to Dominicans living in America. Rivera Ledesma collected millions of dollars in deposits for properties that he either did not have the rights to build or were simultaneously sold to multiple buyers. When he failed to deliver, Rivera Ledesma attempted to intimidate his customers into staying silent.

Attorney General James and Congressman Espaillat recommend consumers take the following precautions before investing in real estate to avoid potential scams:

  • Take basic steps to familiarize yourself with the business or individual offering the real estate investment opportunity prior to sending any funds or signing any contracts or agreements. This includes:
  • Using Google, the Better Business Bureau, and social media searches to find reliable information on the project and verify the real estate investment location, entity, and individuals offering the investment.
  • Personally, physically inspecting the purported real estate premises (do not rely on virtual solicitations, flyers, and advertisements alone) to try to determine whether the project is even possible at that location.
  • Physically visiting the project to verify if it is as far along as claimed or proposed.
  • Physically visiting the business’ offices, checking to make sure it has an actual footprint or operating business.
  • Researching or speaking to current and previous customers/clients and researching previous projects of the entity or individuals who are offering the real estate investment to discuss and identify any issues. If no previous or current clients or projects exist, this should raise red flags.
  • Consulting a trusted legal professional or title company capable of determining true ownership of the real estate investment property.
  • Consulting a trusted legal professional to help provide a full understanding of the legal documents, applicable laws, legal terms, and legal process for any of the investments, contracts, or other agreements associated with the real estate investment transaction.
  • Consulting a trusted legal professional who can run background checks on the entity or individual offering the real estate investment.
  • Retain all communications, documents, and financial records regarding the transaction and real estate investment opportunity.
  • If possible, do not fund any portion of the transaction with a cash transfer.
  • If things feel off or too good to be true, trust your instincts and think twice before investing.

New Yorkers who wish to report a real estate scam should contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds Bureau online or by calling 800-771-7755.

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