HOA dues disappear in elaborate scam

September 27, 2011 4:30:42 PM PDT
Tens of thousands of dollars in homeowners association dues have disappeared in what investigators believe could be an elaborate scam.

If you live in a newer suburban neighborhood you probably belong to a homeowners association which maintains landscaping and enforces rules and regulations. Sometimes those HOA's hire management companies to do the work for them. This story is about one in particular.

Until recently, this was the office for Arrow Management Company which had contracts with more than a dozen HOA's in Fort Bend and Harris counties. It's now closed up -- the sign off the building.

This month, its owner Taggert Mayfield was sentenced to three years deferred adjudication after he plead guilty to mishandling about $20,000 of one HOA's money. Within the past two weeks, Mayfield's name has crossed the desk of the detective who investigated him in the earlier case. There are complaints from three HOA's so far.

"Alleging theft or misappropriation of fiduciary funds. At this point in time, the list seems to be growing," said Sgt. David Schultz with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office.

Among the HOA's that have filed complaints is Avalon, an upscale development in Katy where homes sit on manmade lakes and where homeowners have received emails from their HOA reading, "Our management company, Arrow Community Management, has suddenly and unexpectedly gone out of business. They no longer answer phones and the office is empty. Our attorney advised us to formally terminate the company and proceed to search for a replacement which we have done. Needless to say, this will cause a period of instability for your HOA."

Susan Maher is a homeowner who's questioning who's out on the limb for any lost money.

"They're trying to work with attorneys and get money back from assets, so I'm not sure how that's going to work; usually that means zilch. So somehow we may have to take up the slack cause we have to run the community," Maher said.

Three complaints filed with investigators so far and the amounts of allegedly missing money are adding up.

"We have a report of one in particular -- it's about $120,000," said Sgt. Schultz.

The investigation has just begun, but no charges have been filed.

We attempted to contact Mayfield's attorney, but our calls have not been returned.


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