Several Consumers Found Squatters Occupying Their Residences; Others Complained Of Stolen Furniture And AppliancesNEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit against the Dominican business Consorcio Empresarial Emproy-Divisa; Danilo Diaz, the company’s president; Julio Balbuena, the company’s sales manager; Rivas Travel and Multiservice, Inc., a New York corporation; and David Rivas, the owner of Rivas Travel. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that the respondents incurred in a deceptive practice and false advertising in violation of several New York State laws.
From at least 2005 through 2008, Diaz and Balbuena promoted “Pueblo Bavaro,” a residential development in the Dominican Republic, through the dissemination of literature, pamphlets, and DVDs at several promotional events in Washington Heights community of New York City. Respondents operated from Rivas Travel, located at 4321 Broadway, New York, New York, and from a “Pueblo Bavaro Promotion Office” located at 220 Wadsworth Avenue, New York, New York from at least 2006 to 2011. Diaz, Balbuena, and Rivas prominently appeared in a television commercial aired on Telemundo that promoted Pueblo Bavaro. Respondents marketed Pueblo Bavaro as a beautiful Caribbean destination and a sound investment opportunity. It has been, in fact, the opposite.
“As a result of intentional and blatant deceptive practices, dozens of New York families have lost thousands of dollars and their hopes of acquiring a safe and secure residence in the Dominican Republic. My office will pursue anyone, whether based here or abroad, who unlawfully conducts business in our state and scams New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This lawsuit starts the process of helping these families obtain the restitution they deserve.”
The lawsuit alleges that customers who visited Rivas Travel entered into purchase agreements. Payments were accepted at Rivas Travel, the Pueblo Bavaro Promotion Office and at Emproy-Divisa’s offices in the Dominican Republic. The residential units typically ranged in price from $40,000 US to $90,000 US. However, purchasers got either a residence without title, or no residence or title. Promised security services were not provided. Some customers found squatters occupying their residence, while others complained that furniture and appliances had been stolen. Customers’ repeated attempts to secure title or a refund from Emproy-Divisa were ignored.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges deceptive conduct and false advertising in violation of General Business Law §§349 and 350 respectively, and that Emproy-Divisa, Danilo Diaz, and Julio Balbuena unlawfully operated as a foreign corporation without the requisite filing with the New York Department of State of an application for authority in violation of Business Corporations Law §§ 1301 and 1305. More than 40 customers have filed complaints with the Attorney General’s office alleging they never received title to their purchased property, despite paying for their property in full or securing a mortgage through Banco de Reservas, the Dominican National bank, as they were instructed to do at the time of purchase. The lawsuit seeks restitution for injured consumers, injunctive relief, and fines and penalties.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Roberto Lebron, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Harlem Regional Office Guy Mitchell, Consumer Fraud and Protection Bureau Chief Jane Azia, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices Martin Mack.