(WSVN) - A South Florida woman signed up for a program to help renovate her home. But instead of saving money, she says it almost cost her her home. 7’s Heather Walker investigates.

Debra Davis saved money to finally buy her dream home in Broward, but it needed some work.

Debra Davis, homeowner: “We need a new roof, new windows, everything to bring it up to [Federal Emergency Management Agency] code.”

She signed up for a state program called PACE. It provides funding to make homes energy-efficient and safer from hurricanes.

Loans are paid off through a yearly assessment on a homeowner’s property taxes.

Debra was pre-approved for a loan and assigned a contractor.

Debra Davis: “The project manager visits, sees the scope of the work.”

Then a contractor comes to the house to put together a final proposal.

Debra met with Moshe Vakneen from Diaz & Russell Construction Company, but she didn’t want to work with him.

Debra Davis: “I didn’t like the way he was interacting with me.”

She told her project manager she wanted a different contractor. But before she could find someone new…

Debra Davis: “I get a text and it says, ‘I’m so-and-so from Diaz & Russell, and you signed a contract with us. If you don’t work with us, we’re going to put a notice to lien on your house.'”

Debra says she wasn’t worried.

Debra Davis: “We never signed contracts. There’s no notice of commencement. Nothing has been notarized. I’ve seen nothing at this point.”

But to be safe, she reported the company to PACE and withdrew her loan application.

Then she got a notice on her front door.

Debra Davis: “There is a notice to lien for $162,000.”

The notice said a lien would be put on Debra’s house if she didn’t pay Diaz & Russell Construction Company $162,000, the estimated cost for materials.

Debra called her project manager and found out she was also having problems with the company.

Debra Davis: “I feel like I was caught in the crossfire of whatever was happening with the project manager and the company.”

Iliana Fernandez says she handled all the PACE contracts for Diaz & Russell Construction Company.

She tells 7 Investigates that she had been having issues with her boss, Moshe Vakneen, and quit. And then, she started getting threats.

Man in video: “Iliana Fernandez is wanted by the police for stealing more than hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you see her, please contact the Aventura Police Department.”

And Iliana says the intimidation didn’t stop there.

Iliana Fernandez, former employee: “He sent me a message saying that I’m sending this video to all the clients, to everyone.”

The text messages appear to come from Moshe Vakneen.

Aventura Police say the case number on the video doesn’t belong to them.

Iliana Fernandez: “It is a fake video. I have not been wanted by any police. I don’t have any warrant on my name, and I haven’t done anything to be worried about.”

Moshe Vakneen would not speak to us on camera, but he did tell us he will drop the lien notice on Debra’s home.

The owner of Diaz & Russell Construction Company tells 7 Investigates that Moshe Vakneen no longer works for or is affiliated with the company.

Meanwhile, Debra still hopes to get her house repaired.

Debra Davis: “I’m going to hopefully find the right contractor to do the roof and the windows, and I will reapply with the PACE program.”

Putting her on pace for her American dream.

Heather Walker, 7News.


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