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Southwest Florida man says property management company stole thousands from owners and tenants

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 07:16:36-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- One man is urging property owners and tenants to watch their backs when it comes to property management businesses. Paul Ebach, tells Fox 4 he lost thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits to a company that closed its doors without any notice.

Paul Ebach and his wife bought property in the area several years ago when he was living in Maryland. He says he chose a company located in Cape Coral to manage the property he owned.

"They did great for a few years and they started getting worse," Ebach said. It wasn't long until things took a quick turn. "The next thing we know they closed up shop stole all of our money, security deposits from the people that were living here."

Paul says he and his wife lost thousands of dollars in five months, but that’s not the only thing. "We just lost all of our trust and we just had to come down here and get out life back," Ebach said.

We found out the property management company that’s being accused did close its doors, and other complaints similar to Ebach's have been made on the Better Business Bureau.

But how should you protect yourself from scams like this? Fox 4 spoke with Royal Palms Property Management in Fort Myers, and they tell us, these scams actually happen all the time.

"People that get into property management to just make a quick buck they don’t know what they’re doing and get in over their heads," Ashley Simonelli, the Royal Palms Management owner.

Simonelli now manages Ebach and fourteen other properties that were managed by the accused property team, she says dozens of people were blindsided. Simonelli says it's possible the company in question stole more than one million dollars.

But Simonelli also says there are ways to know who you’re picking to manage your property, has good intentions. She says to make sure, they’re certified through the National Association of Residential Property Managers, along with checking reviews and references.

"They trusted these people to make sure their funds got put into their account and it wasn’t unfortunately," said Simonelli.

Now people like Paul Ebach want to let others know, watch you're doing business with.

"When you trust somebody to do your bidding for you while you’re out and they just rip you off blind- it takes away your faith in anybody and your trust," said Ebach.

Fox 4 has reached out to the Cape Coral Police Department, and the detective working on this case for comment be have not heard back, we will be sure to keep you updated as soon as we get more information.