FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A former North Texas real estate agent is accused of taking nearly a half-million dollars from her clients and business partners leading to one of the largest cases of alleged property management fraud the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has ever investigated.
In May, the state revoked Ashley Williams’ real estate license, cited her with 68 violations, and issued a fine of $122,000 — the largest fine the commission has handed out in years.
But many of Williams’ former clients said they are still missing thousands of dollars.
A CBS 11 I-Team investigation found 26 property owners who said Williams failed to give them the rent money she collected from their homes.
The amount the property owners claim Williams failed to pay is more than $350,000, according to court records and official complaints filed with the TREC.
Williams was hired by dozens of landlords to manage properties across North Texas, including homes in Frisco, Keller, Lewisville and Austin.
Her job included finding tenants, making sure repairs got done, and collecting the rent money for the owners.
“She was very charming,” explained Erika Ward who, along with her husband Ron, hired Williams to management their rental home in Little Elm. “She seemed really on top of her game. She seemed really excited about doing it.”
But starting in the summer of 2017, several property owners said Williams stopped sending them the rent money she collected.
When her clients would ask Williams about the money, Ron Ward said she always had an excuse.
“I was sympathetic at first,” he said. “Then it got really fishy.”
Property owners said Williams eventually stopped communicating with them. Most have not heard from her in more than a year.
When the I-Team tracked Williams down at her home in Aubrey, she answered, “no” when asked about owing her former clients money.
Williams then told the I-Team, “This conversation is done. You will have to talk to my attorney.”
Williams’ last attorney on record declined to comment.
“Frustrating doesn’t even cover how much this has bothered me,” said property owner Lee Warren.
Warren claims Williams owes him more than $45,000 in rent and security deposits that she collected when managing his properties.
The I-Team found 14 lawsuits in the past two years filed by property owners against Williams.
In most of the cases, the court granted a judgment in favor of the property owners.
Warren received a judgement in his favor but said he has not received his missing money from Williams.
“I have a piece of paper that says she owes me almost $50,000 but that doesn’t put the money back in my pocket,” he said.
Williams also has another $118,000 in judgments against her from lawsuits filed by a former business partner and a Dallas handyman.
Hector Ibarra said Williams owes him $33,150 for repair work he did on the rentals. Without that money, the small business owner had to file for bankruptcy.
“It hurts,” Ibarra said. “She’s always going new places, buying things … and I’m over here struggling.”
Some property owners were able to recover part of their losses through the Texas Real Estate Commission’s recovery fund but most said they felt their best chance at getting their money was to file a lawsuit.
According to court records, when a debt collection agency started calling Williams shortly after several of the judgments, Williams filed her own lawsuit against collection company. The lawsuit claims Williams was being unfairly harassed.
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