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scam-alert

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced the temporary shutdown of the largest overseas real estate investment scam it has ever targeted. According to the FTC, the alleged scammers mislead investors into buying lots at a development called Sanctuary Belize. The scammers promised several luxury amenities, including hotels, a spa, and a golf course, and that lot owners would see substantial appreciation of their lot’s value once the development was complete.

The FTC alleges that investors paid anywhere from $150k to $500k each. However, the money was not used to develop the property. Instead, the scammers used the money to fund their own lifestyles.

The FTC is trying to permanently stop the scheme and get a court order requiring the scammers to compensate those affected.  The FTC has charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule based on several false claims the scammers allegedly made when pitching their lots to investors, including:

  • SBE uses a “no-debt” business model, which makes buying a lot in Sanctuary Belize less-risky than a real estate investment in which the developer must make payments to creditors like banks;
  • Every dollar SBE collects from lot sales goes back into the development;
  • This continual funding stream means that SBE will finish development quickly — within two to five years;
  • The development will include impressive amenities, such as a hospital staffed with American doctors, an emergency medical center near the downtown “Marina Village,” a championship-caliber golf course, an airstrip, and a new international airport with direct flights to the United States;
  • These amenities will ensure that property values will double or even triple in two to three years; and
  • It will be easy for buyers to resell their lots.

Consumers who may have been affected by this scam should contact the FTC. A website has been created for consumers to provide information about their experience.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs, and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

 

 

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