GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.

Update: Bray Property Management not victimized in recent HOA scandal but helped clean up afterwards

Fraud can hit you when you least expect it, or it can infiltrate an organization especially when the criminal is holding the key to the crime, and that key is trust. “This was truly a crime of opportunity,” said Special Agent Zak Benson who supervises activity on the Western Slope with the IRS Criminal Investigation division. “This can happen in every community across the nation.”

On November 8, a U.S. District Court Judge, sentenced 66-year-old Debra Campbell of Grand Junction to more than three years in prison for wire fraud targeting home owner’s associations and their co-owners who trusted her to manage their finances, and that’s not all. Agent Benson says, “She also didn’t report the stolen ill-gotten gains as well as her own legitimate income from her business, “A Better Alternative Management.”

As part of a plea agreement, Campbell admitted to transferring more than $250 thousand from 23 local HOAs she managed into her account between March 2015 and April 2018. In addition to prison time, she’s been ordered to pay about $411 thousand in restitution, but the damage has already been done and Benson says the victims aren’t the HOAs. The victims are the families paying into their HOAs. “When the HOA’s lack the funds because they were stolen, they can’t support the communities they’re supposed to support,” said Benson.

Benson says those funds were traced back to Campbell when some of the HOA’s finally caught on begging the question: How did this happen for so long? The restitution order shows more than $100,000 stolen from big HOA manager Coldwell Banker, $82,000 robbed from Lighthouse Management, and nearly 50 grand stolen from Bray HOA Management. Benson shares some advice. “It’s really important to have financial safeguards in place, to have proper accounting controls, and to also check up on those who are providing services to you.”

It’s still unclear what’s next for the nearly dozen HOAs on the Western Slope, most of them in Grand Junction didn’t see Campbell coming. But, more importantly, what’s next for the people living in those communities, paying their fees, obeying their rules, and at the same time getting robbed?