Dozens of tenants who dealt with Irving businesswoman Pauline Coronado filed criminal fraud complaints Wednesday at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
The tenants claim papers they signed with Coronado that turned out to be leases and not the rent to own contracts they thought they were signing to purchase homes.
Patricia Guzman has lived in one of the houses in Garland for 8 months.
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Guzman said Coronado explained the English language contract to her in Spanish so Guzman felt more comfortable.
“We started through the paperwork and everything, thinking that it's going to be mine,” Guzman said.
One day, Noemi Perez came to her door with a similar story of signing papers she thought were a rent to own arrangement for the very same house. Perez said she talked with a Realtor who told her the papers were only a lease.
“I didn't believe her,” Guzman said.
Perez came back later with more former tenants of Coronado houses and Guzman said she started to believe they were all victims of fraud.
Perez said she paid Coronado $16,000 and tried to back out of the deal one month later after hiring a home inspector.
“He came and he told me the permit is wrong, the electricity, the foundation, there's a lot of things wrong with this house,” Perez said.
Perez and Guzman were among more than two dozen people who filed fraud complaints with prosecutors Wednesday.
Coronado’s Irving office was closed Wednesday but she returned a phone message and said she was out of town on her honeymoon.
“When I try to go to her office she was out of town, in therapy or in the hospital,” Perez said.
Coronado referred NBC 5 to her Attorney Dennis Croman. He said Coronado acts a real estate agent leasing the homes of third party owners to tenants for a fee.
“It’s a valid lease purchase agreement,” Croman said. “They have to qualify for financing.”
The attorney said many customers have received refunds if they did not qualify for financing.
“She has 3 times as many happy customers,” Croman said.
A license holder search of Texas Real Estate Commission records returned "no matching records" for the name Pauline Coronado as a broker or sales agent in Irving.
In an e-mail statement, the District Attorney’s office confirmed the start of an investigation of what it called “mass fraud of homeowners.”
“Our office takes a firm stance on fraud. We will do everything in our power to combat activities and individuals that threaten the safety or property of anyone in our community,” the statement said. “If you or someone you know believes they are a victim of fraud or may have engaged in any financial transactions involving Pauline Coronado, please contact your Dallas County District Attorney at 214-653-3600.”