Action 9

Feds accuse local real estate company of scamming, targeting Hispanic community

ORLANDO, Fla. — The owners of an Orlando company accused of bilking people out of tens of millions of dollars in a real estate training scheme will have to pay some of that money back. They will also be banned from some business activities.

Action 9 first warned consumers about the company best known as Ganadores or Ganadores IBR last year when the company was accused of targeting Spanish-speaking people with the alleged scam.

The main office for Ganadores was on West Colonial Drive near Parramore Avenue in Orlando.  Company owner Richard Alvarez was known to push classes, seminars and coaching with claims the company could teach people how to make big money in real estate.

An online ad in Spanish is what drew Elizabeth Villatoro to sign up.

“I was searching for real estate investing and all this information,” Villatoro told Action 9.

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Last year the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Alvarez, his business partners and their companies involved in this alleging this was a scheme that targeted Spanish-speaking consumers with “brazen and false money-making pitches.”

Villatoro said, “They tell you that you are going to need to have a seminar for three days, and you have to pay six-hundred (dollars).”

The Feds said the 3-day sessions, like the one Villatoro signed up for, were just another way to convince attendees to pay thousands of dollars more for additional training, but the mentoring program rarely delivered on its promises.  In fact, they allege the company “hid key terms in English language contracts,” knowing many of the Spanish-speaking consumers may not be able to read them.

Now, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a deal that will force Richard Alvarez and his wife Sara Alvarez to turn over roughly $6 million in assets including cash, a $70,000  pick-up truck and luxury watches.

They would also be banned from offering any coaching on E-commerce or real estate, making misleading earnings claims on any products or services or repeating the unlawful practices in this case.

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The money collected from the Alvarez’ will be used to provide refunds to consumers who were harmed in what the FTC says was a scam.

“I think that is horrible what they’re doing to the Hispanic community,” Elizabeth Villatoro said.

Action 9 has reached out to an attorney for Ganadores for reaction to this latest development, but has not heard back, yet.  This deal still has to be signed by a judge.  Once approved, if investigators learn the couple lied about their current financial status, they would have to pay back $29 million instead of $6 million.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.