Property management company shut down for violating state law, short trust money

The Arizona Department of Real Estate issued a Cease & Desist Order on Dawn Anderson and her company, Maricopa Properties, LLC.

She is accused of violating numerous state laws by using other people's money from a trust account.

Violations

The order shows she used the company's trust account to pay for charges in Hawaii and New Orleans.

The trust account was supposed to hold the security deposits of renters who rented properties from her clients. The account is not supposed to be used for business operations or personal use.

Falling home prices have led to many investors buying homes to rent throughout the Valley. They hired property managers to run them.

During a regularly scheduled audit, the AZRE found the account was short money, had various charges posted, and had an unauthorized signer. Anderson also paid herself a monthly paycheck from the account.

Judy Lowe, the Commissioner for the Arizona Department of Real Estate, called it blatant and egregious.

"Absolutely you cannot pay those types of expenses from a trust account with other people's money," Commissioner Lowe said.

The Cease & Desist Order shows the trust account was short $279,938.99.

Renters

Some of that money is Tina McFadden's.

McFadden is a renter and gave Anderson her security deposit to hold in the trust account. She also made all her monthly rent payments through the company.

"It's really put people in a terrible situation," McFadden said.

Anderson sent McFadden an email stating she would no longer be the property manager. McFadden immediately went over to the office in Maricopa and found it locked up tight. Other renters did the same.

"I've personally witnessed people up here bawling, crying in tears. They are in such a predicament," McFadden said.

Owners

And  the owners, not just the renters, who hired her to manage their properties are out money too.

Mike Morris bought a house a couple of years ago as an investment. He lives out of state, so he hired Anderson to manage the property.

Being in real estate, Mike knew, "When you get a cease and desist order, that it's a serious offense."

After hearing about the stop order, Mike came to town looking for answers. He didn't get any and neither did we.

Anderson declined our request for an interview both at the door of her home in the foothills of South Mountain and by email stating her attorney advised her not to speak to us.

We spoke with her husband, Chad Anderson. According to the Cease & Desist Order, he is an authorized signer on the trust account. But according to state law, he's not allowed to be.

We asked him where the money went, but he would not speak with us.

Seeking Prosecution

Both McFadden and Morris want to see Anderson prosecuted.

McFadden filed a police report, while Morris contacted everyone he could think of calling.

He contacted the police, the Attorney General's Office, the Governor's Office and the AZRE.

"Here's a lady who's documented in the Cease & Desist," Mike said, "And nobody seems to want to do anything."

The AZRE submitted the case to the Attorney General's Office and asked for her license to be revoked. As of today, Anderson has not contested the order.

The AG's Office has not responded to our requests for comment.

Protect yourself

If you are out money, your best option is suing in court. If you get a judgment, you can apply for funds through the AZRE's recovery fund.

The AZRE has an easy to use search engine . It can tell you if the real estate company or broker you are using is licensed, and if they were charged with any violations.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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