By Diana Crandall / December 12, 2018

Retiring Americans Scammed $100M in Tropical Real Estate Deal

The FTC says fraud is a growing concern as more Americans retire abroad.

A view of a hammock on the beach on October 24, 2010 in the Island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America.  hammock in carabbean islands, Ambergris Caye, Belize. (Photo by Philippe ROYER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
A view of a hammock on the beach on October 24, 2010 in the Island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America. hammock in carabbean islands, Ambergris Caye, Belize. (Photo by Philippe ROYER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Americans retiring abroad, beware: The FTC says you’re a prime target for real estate development scams that promise a luxurious resort with a downpayment on land — but it never materializes.

This is according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that developers sold lots in remote jungle areas in Belize. Buyers believed that a luxury resort would be built, but it never was — and now, the FTC has filed a lawsuit against the developers and Belize’s Atlantic International Bank, alleging fraud and freezing $10 million of the bank’s assets.

“The bank did not play any part in any alleged fraud involving Sanctuary Belize,” AIB Chief Executive Ricardo Pelayo reportedly said in a statement.

But the project reportedly spanned more than a decade and involved 1,000+ investors, the WSJ reports. One of those investors includes Trisha Nelson, a 47-year-old Canadian who told the WSJ that she and her then-husband paid $500,000 in cash for two townhouses that were meant to be built in 2014.

The building never happened. And the money? Never returned.

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