Most 19-year-olds work for extra cash, but Elizabeth Mireles wants a lot more, a new house. So she started searching. "I looked thru the Thrifty Nickel and it said the peoples dream and it left the number so I called the number," Mireles says. That's when she met Jonathan Blount, owner of People's Dream, a low-income housing loan company in Lubbock.
"He told me he was going to be my co-signer because I was too young. I don't have no kind of credit," she says. But she had money and this land, land her family owns a deed to. So they struck a deal, every Thursday Elizabeth would hand him $200 until she paid off the $2,300 downpayment loan.
If the money was late she'd lose her house. "Everything that I had, I had to write over to him, and he was going to do everything in his hands and basically I had to pay him." Then he'd pay the mortgage company. Elizabeth says she kept up her end of the bargain, but claims Jonathan did not. "He set a date and sure enough there was nothing on the land.. So I called him and called him and called him.. And finally I got a letter from the mortgage company telling me it was fradulent. He was nobody," says Elizabeth.
Unlike Elizabeth, NewsChannel 11 has been questioning Jonathan Blount's business practices for months. We took our hidden camera into People's Dream six months ago. One of our producers posed as a customer. He found Jonathan to be believable and persistent. In fact, Elizabeth says it was Jonathan's persistence that kept her from breaking off the deal. "I was scared I had to make my payments on time. I was scared. I think I was just scared of him and the way he was, I didn't know how to cancel with him," she says.
Eventually, Elizabeth severed all ties with Jonathan. He's since disappeared but not before taking her $2,300, her land, and her dream. "How important was it for you to get your own place? It was really important, but I didn't get it," Elizabeth says.
Meanwhile, Lubbock authorities still search for Jonathan Blount.. He's been indicted for selling houses he didn't own. Other employees working under 'People's Dream' may also be facing charges. By the way, we went back to the office space Blount occupied six months ago. He has since cleared out. The landlord there says Blount never paid any rent and now owes her 'a fortune.'