You are here

FTC stops Sanctuary Belize land scheme

Share this page

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.

Tagged with: invest, vacation
Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Comments

This is what happens when you buy property sight unseen. Many years ago, my wife & I attended one of those "free dinner if you listen to a presentation" events. They were selling land in Florida. I told the guy we were only there for the dinner. He called in his boss, in a last ditch, desperate attempt to make a sale. I still don't own any property in Florida. ;-)

Seen this in the past. This had happen to a lot of people.. Don't forget the tide is coming in as you sign the papers...

Thank you for the warning. I wish I had known this 40 years ago. I was able to recoup my losses by working longer and doing without certain great deals. At least a lesson well learned. Incidentally, I have manic depression.

I once looked into one of these "deals" by contacting their local chamber of commerce in costa rica; and although this place was legit, it had a record of not living up to its promises, and was echoed by that chamber of commerce when contacted. bottom line, do your research before committing to anything!

If indeed a scam.., they are good. Might even be the "scammers were scammed" ? They got me for about $48K.., but would have been for another sizable sum had I not seen this tonight. Funny, my contact, mysteriously did not return my phone calls or emails of late..., dream shattered.., it was a beautiful area.., too bad.

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.

I just watched the press conference, on line. At this point, there is a perception that 1 Canadian and 1 Australian purchased land. There are several Canadians who purchased, including myself. I am so thankful something is finally being done. I purchased in 2011 & moved to Belize in 2013, where I have resided waiting for something to happen...all these years. I will be forwarding my information to the FTC.

Please do you have a web link to the press conference

You can watch a tape of the press conference on the FTC's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/federaltradecommission

My partner and I bought two lots last year. When we returned they contacted us and tried to switch lots - told us that someone else had purchased one of the lots at the same time that we bought it. I ended up asking for my money back as I was not happy with what I felt was a 'bait and switch'. They made all kinds of excuses saying it would be complicated to issue a refund and would take a while. I waited and waited. Thankfully, I paid for the downpayment on my VISA and was able to get VISA to refund my money when I explained the situation. My partner, unfortunately, decided to keep one of the lots. He's now stuck in this terrible situation.

Has everyone been paying HOA tax fees or monthly down-payment fees? Do we stop paying that until the case is solved? I need some input please.

Leave a Comment