2008 saw not only the global economic crisis sweep countries around the globe but also countless scams and frauds unveiled, the biggest of which being the Madoff scam. Unfortunately, for thousands of Brits that invested in Spain over the last 5-10 years, many fell victim to big property scams, and their investments have now vanished. Many foreign property investors were targetted by unscrupulous fraudsters such as Fortuna Estates.
An article on internationalpropertyinvestment.com highlights how in recent weeks Fortuna Estates was busted: “The Spanish land investment scam run for years by Fortuna Estates has finally been busted, with the Spanish fraud squad swooping last week on several office in Mijas and Fuengirola, arresting at least 2 people, and questioning 20 others. This could be one of the biggest Spanish real estate scams to date, with hundreds, if not thousands of British and Irish victims.” Most probably for thousands of individuals, this is too late.
The article reveals how: “Despite making several arrests, the Spanish police do not think they have nabbed any of the masterminds, who are thought to have disappeared, and may already be working on their next scam.”. Again this goes to show how such scammer just manage to get away.
The scam was so well developed that they managed to survive for years, with their first offer showing up in established press around Spain around 2002: “Watch your investment in raw undeveloped land turn into commercial projects with multi-million euro potential, promised Fortuna Estates, which started selling shares in its projects in 2002.”
An article on spanishpropertyinsight.com goes on to clarifying further how Fortuna managed to keep investors hooked: “The valuations were meaningless, as Fortuna made them up to make it look like investors were making big profits, on paper at least. This was enough to keep filling the pipeline with new investors, and convince existing clients to invest more money in new projects. Some of Fortuna Land’s hapless investors are thought to have invested in as many as 3 of their projects.”
And an article on timesonline.com explains how investors were “had” for so long: “For other investors, the first indication that something was wrong came only in November, after the reports that Fortuna’s offices, in Mijas and Fuengirola, had been raided. Investors began to panic and flocked to online message boards to swap stories and try to establish what was going on.
Many had become aware of Fortuna’s problems only after they were contacted by European Mediation, a Rochdale-based company, which offered to recover their losses – provided they paid 10% of the amount they were owed as an upfront fee. It is not clear how many – if any – people have been able to retrieve their money using its services. European Mediation failed last week to respond to requests from The Sunday Times to comment.”
Even though the fortunaestates website is now down, a simple Google search brings up numerous results, one which even still advertises the fraud. So what was it, greed or simple naivety? Join the discussion: