He has no right to retain your money. What you want to do is raise the stakes on him. Contact him and demand he refund your money in full within a short specified period of time. Inform him that if your demand is not timely complied with, you will have no choice but to: i) contact the district attorney's office to file criminal charges; and ii) file a civil suit against him for your damages. BUT, be sure to specifically mention that you will be filing this civil suit not only as a breach of contract
case, but also as deceptive trade practices
and fraud causes of action, which will entitle you not only to the money owed you, but also an additional amount equal to multiple times the deposit amount as punitive damages
. That should provide plenty of incentive to comply with your demands; but, if it does not, file your suit and contact the district attorney's office to file criminal charges. In my experience, they will settle this without a hearing rather than risk punitive damages, the judgment,, and criminal prosecution being on their record. If you do have to file the suit, you can file it in small claims
court without a lawyer. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor
, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment. Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which fully addresses your question. If you have any follow up questions, please ask! If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service as OK, Good or Excellent (hopefully Good or Excellent). Otherwise, I receive no credit for assisting you today. I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!