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FTC stops Sanctuary Belize land scheme

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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.

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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. ;-)

site un-seen is not what happened. buyers were given extensive tours of property and sold a ton of lies

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...

How do you know if someone else has a claim on your lot? I purchased a lot, and paid cash. How do I know if someone else paid for the same lot? Can the FTC provide a list of owners?

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. 

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!

I bought land, and i'm still paying on it, plus HOA fees. should I stop paying and wait for lawsuit to finish? or continue to pay and see if the outcome will be? if the land will be mine clear and free in the future. Not in the habit of throwing money away.

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.

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

Hi Bridget. Is Kanantik Development part of the case? I don't see it listed on the FAQ page...but we worked directly with Luke Chadwick to purchase a lot at Kanantik.

The Kanantik development is not part of this case, although its owner, Luke Chadwick, is a defendant in this case. 

so this part is very confusing because Kanantik is part and parcel included with Sanctuary. It is all through Mango Springs which is frozen at the moment. All entities involved in Kanantik are the same as Sanctuary. It is not a separately owned development. My impression is Luke Chadwick took over to make it looked like he owned it instead of Pukke. So I stopped payment on my land for this month since no one is answeing at Mango Springs who takes my payment and the website is shut down.

I totally agree - I'm afraid we are in the same boat as Sanctuary. Are you still not making your monthly payments? I'm thinking of stopping mine, too until this all gets sorted out.

Hello Bridget,
I would like to discuss the Mango Springs/Kanantik Belize development with you via my private e-mail. Luke Chadwick is the developer and part owner of this project and it also, has failed to live up to marketing promises and very little development has been completed. There are hundreds of investors whose investments are in jeopardy. Vendors have gone unpaid. Communications have gone dark for over 6 months. Let me know how I can contact you privately.

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.

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.

I think the FTC needs to include "Bamboo Springs" or "Bamboo Springs at the Reserve" in this action. I haven't seen it mentioned yet and it's part of the scam. My wife and I bought a lot there 2 years ago. I have sent info to the FTC.

I bought a lot and paid it off six months ago have not paid property tax in six moths should i pay belize government

We purchased 2 lots in bamboo springs May 2017 do we keep paying? Payments are in 2 parts land(goes to belize includes gov state tax) and development goes to eco future (developers) do we continue to pay land part? If so where do we send? If we stop all payment can we be foreclosed upon and sued by belize government? I understand that there is a receiver is there a website to reach them for answers?

The FTC has more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ. The email address for the Receiver is on that page.

I need to know if the frozen assets involving Sanctuary have resulted in the assets of the not sued Kanantik development being frozen as there are similar entries in both developments.

The FTC has more information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.

Hello Bridget,
I'm sorry to say that I have purchased several lots over the years (2 in Sanctuary/Reserve) and 7 in Kanantik.
From what I'm hearing, Kanantik is "currently" not part of the suit, however, the payments were all being made to Mango Springs Development, LTD., which IS part of the suit , as well as Luke Chadwick, the so-called owner of the development.
Can you please advise as to how (and who) I should communicate the details of each purchase, since the purchases were made over several years and not all at once?
Is it best for me to discuss this with the Receiver?
Thank you.

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.

Kanantik Development does need to be part of this FTC action. The original Memorandum of Sale lists Mango Springs with the same address used for this scheme: 3333 Michelson Dr. in Irvine, CA 92612.
BTW, Luke Chadwick has a court hearing on Dec 12 at the Superior Court Orange County, CA. The case is Violetta Mathis vs. Luke Chadwick.

What do we do if we have purchased in Bamboo springs? Who is handling this. It is part of the Reserve . It is part of the ABM Developememt deal.

The FTC has information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.

Is there contact info for Robb Evans and Assoc.? I inherited 3 lots from my father. 2 in Santuary (now Sittee River) and 1 in Kannatik. How should I proceed? I have received no written info regarding a class action suit and nothing from the FTC. I have learned about this issue because I attempted to list these lots for sale after being taken (I presume) for almost $40,000 from a lawyer in Beleize the Sacntuary people advised me to work with in order to gain title for the lots.

The FTC has information at www.FTC.gov/BelizeFAQ.  There is an email address for Robb Evans and information about how to communicate with the FTC.

I purchased a lot in Bamboo Springs 2 years ago and I am still paying on the lot, should I continue? I do have all documentation that we received at the tour as well as some pictures while we were there. I also have emails to and from ecofutures Development regarding staying at the Reserve and about payments that were never processed at their bank.

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.

If the FTC knew about this scam why did they let me buy in October of 2018 warning would have been nice

How do we get more info about the Bamboo Springs part of this deal. I purchased a lot there and paid cash. It is somehow part of the Sanctuary deal, but appears their is a seperate court battle going on with Violett Mathis and Luke Chadwick. Who do I contact about this. I feel I am left out of the loop and am desperately trying to find out whats going on. I sent all docs to the FTC and to the Receiver , but am hearing Bamboo Springs/Kanatic is not part of this suit? Why? Same addresses and contact info as Sanctuary/The Reserve

You can get information from the FTC through these questions and answers, the press release announcing the case, and documents in the FTC's cases against AmeriDebt, Inc. and Ecological Fox, LLC  or by contacting the Court-appointed Receiver by emailing sanctuarybelize@robbevans.com.

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