Every summer at the beach, we see billboards and flags advertising tours of sandy acres. The signs claim these empty stretches will become new communities, and that living here will be amazing — in a few years — when the homes, shopping center, and playground are complete. The ads urge visitors to buy into this great deal soon. Before you pay to build a castle in the sand, you need to do a lot of research and get some professional advice. The deal might not be as amazing as advertised, and, if a scammer is behind it, it’s not the deal for you.
In a case recently filed by the FTC, a federal court shut down a real estate scheme that was secretly controlled by a twice-convicted felon the FTC sued 15 years ago. According to the FTC, Andris Pukke and many of his associates used deceptive promotions for a luxury community in southern Belize to sell more than 1,000 lots. They claimed the development would have all the amenities of an American luxury resort — including world-class dining and shopping, a hotel, hospital, golf course, and casino — within five years. But after 15 years, the community hasn’t been built.
The defendants ran national ads on Fox News and Bloomberg, used telemarketers, and hosted webinars to promote the scheme to small business owners and retirees, according to the FTC. They encouraged couples to travel to remote southern Belize to tour the property and hear sales presentations. Most people who visited bought at least one empty lot for $150,000 to $500,000. But as the years passed and the various amenities weren’t constructed, some owners stopped making payments. Some tried to resell the land but couldn’t find buyers.
If you’re thinking of buying into a development, check on a property developer or management company with a state Attorney General. Discuss your investment ideas or plans with an accountant, an attorney, or another advisor you know and trust. If you are looking into an overseas development, consult a professional in the United States. If you had a problem with a business, please report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint.
If you toured or bought land at the Sanctuary Belize developments, the FTC wants your help. Do you have information and records about taking tours, making a down payment, or buying land in the Sanctuary Belize developments: Sanctuary Belize, Sanctuary Bay and The Reserve? We are looking for things like email from the developer; promotional material; sales documents; webinars, and other audio and video recordings. Please go to this page to send information to the FTC.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
- We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
- We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
- We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
- We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.
In reply to This is what happens when you by Phil A.
In reply to How do you know if someone by Jennifer B
The court appointed a temporary Receiver to take control of the development's assets that are related to the case. (The Receiver does not control your lot.) You can send questions about lot ownership to the Receiver, although the Receiver might not be ready to answer all your questions. The Receiver is Robb Evans & Associates, LLC.
In reply to I bought land, and i'm still by Lost for words
The FTC understands that the Court-appointed Receiver will contact lot owners about whether they should continue to make payments. The Court-appointed Receiver in this case is Robb Evans and Associates.
In reply to If indeed a scam.., they are by rawhiderhino
The FTC is asking people like you, who toured, made down payments or bought land in the Sanctuary Belize developments, to share copies of their information and records. We're looking for things like email from the developer, promotional material, sales documents, webinars, and other audio and video recordings.
The secure page is www.ftc.gov/SanctuaryBelizeForm. There's more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.
In reply to I just watched the press by April
In reply to Please do you have a web link by Mike.A
You can watch a tape of the press conference on the FTC's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/federaltradecommission
In reply to Hi Bridget. Is Kanantik by Tommy D
The Kanantik development is not part of this case, although its owner, Luke Chadwick, is a defendant in this case.
In reply to The Kanantik development is by FTC Staff
In reply to so this part is very by alaskalist
In reply to The Kanantik development is by FTC Staff
In reply to Hello Bridget, by Steve
The FTC has more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ. There are questions and answers about how to communicate with the FTC on that page.
In reply to We purchased 2 lots in bamboo by Sherclar
The FTC has more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ. The email address for the Receiver is on that page.
In reply to I need to know if the frozen by Peter
The FTC has more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.
In reply to Hello Bridget, by David S
You can get information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ. That page has the Receiver's email, and explains how to contact FTC staff. It also explains how to send electronic copies of information to the FTC if you choose to do that.
In reply to What do we do if we have by Mikey 11
The FTC has information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.
In reply to I purchased a lot in Bamboo by MC Chief 21
The FTC has questions and answers for owners at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.
The FTC is interested in copies of documents and pictures you received on the tour, and related email and payment information. You can send electronic copies of information to the FTC through a secure electronic link at www.FTC.gov/SanctuaryBelizeForm.
In reply to How do we get more info about by mikey11