Archive for February, 2013

Sergio Garcia and the “Phony Hold”

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

A Phony Hold occurs when a victim gives a money deposit in reliance on false representations that a house is “For Rent” or “For Sale.”  Here’s how this works:  Garcia and his co-conspirators install signs on vacant or foreclosed houses and advertise the houses on the internet through Craigslist or other websites. The signs and ads request the victim to call a telephone number for more information about each house offered “For Rent” or “For Sale.”  After calling, an appointment is scheduled to show the house to the victim.  While at the property, Garcia or his co-conspirators determine how much the victim can afford and then request the victim to pay a “hold” deposit to reserve the house.    Later, the victim discovers that the house is not available and Garcia and his co-conspirators will refuse to refund the deposit.

  1. The House: For this Phony Hold example, the house was located at 36 Ruth Street, Hammond, IN 46320.
  2. The Perpetrators: Although Kerusso Real Estate LLC, had recently taken title to the house, Kerusso Asset Management LLC advertised the property.  Both of these companies are owned by Garcia or other co-conspirators.  Interestingly, Garcia often does not own the houses that are advertised “For Rent” or “For Sale.”
  3. The Victim: The victim, S.H., found an advertisement on the now defunct website www.4closed.net offering 36 Ruth Street “For Rent” and called the telephone number 219-972-9999.
  4. Showing the Property: S.H. was instructed to go to 36 Ruth for a showing.  After she arrived, she met Garcia co-conspirator Pedro Gonzalez.
  5. The Phony Hold: During the showing, Pedro asked S.H. to pay a deposit of $1,200 to hold the property.  See Payment from Victim After her payment, S.H. was given the Phony Hold Agreement.
  6. Discovering the House isn’t Available: About a week later, S.H. was called by Sergio’s brother, Manny Garcia, and told that her credit didn’t go through.  Manny demanded that she pay an additional $1,600 to keep 36 Ruth Street.  After refusing to pay more money, S.H. requested her deposit back.  Garcia refused to refund the money.
  7. The Crime: The Phony Hold is both a violation of Indiana Code 35-43-4-2 Theft, a Class D Felony and Indiana Code 35-43-5-3, Deception, a Class A Misdemeanor.
  8. How this Hurts YOU: In some instances, we believe victims have lost their entire life savings due to the Phony Hold.  The Phony Hold impoverishes innocent victims seeking a good home, hurts honest sellers and landlords by reducing the number of available buyers/tenants and increases law enforcement costs and property taxes.

If you are with law enforcement or a victim of Sergio Garcia, more information can be obtained by contacting the Committee to Obtain Justice for the Victims of Sergio Garcia, Inc.; Jonathan Petersen, Executive Director; 1544 45th Avenue, Suite 3, Munster, IN 46321, (219) 803-4550.

The Garcia Victims’ Committee is pleased to report that the above described victim obtained a full recovery after litigation assisted by a committee attorney.