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Costa Rican prosecutors investigate luxury condominium fraud in Central Valley

The Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office has opened up an investigation into real estate developer Homes Grupo Inmobiliario after complaints of consumer fraud have surfaced.

A press release from the Public Ministry confirmed that prosecutors began the investigation into the real estate company Friday after seeing media reports and receiving personal accusations from clients.

The investigation “is based on recent communications and publications made on various national media outlets as well an individual report made by people directly in our offices,” said José Pablo Miranda, who is in charge of fraud cases at the Prosecutor’s Office.

Specific complaints regard the following housing projects: Real Garita in Alajuela; Real Boungainvillea in Santo Domingo de Heredia; and Condado del Valle in San Sebastián.

Daniel Quesada, a spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, told The Tico Times in an email that Homes Grupo Inmobilario took deposits for the three development projects from clients looking to reserve a condo. However, after long delays and unfulfilled promises on the part of the company, clients would then make calls and send emails to numbers and addresses that didn’t exist or had been deactivated, the spokesman said.

Quesada added that the company was offering clients a discount of up to 20 percent of the property’s value if buyers paid the cost of the property’s premium right away.

Would-be homeowners lost as much as $50,000, according to Quesada.

The statement from prosecutors urged anyone who has invested with Homes Grupo Inmobilario to fill out a formal complaint with the fraud section of the Prosecutor’s Office, or call the section at 2295-4810.

A Feb. 14 article from Spanish-language daily Diario Extra claimed that the company was defrauding its investors by concealing banking info and including unrealistic project completion dates in contracts. The management of Homes Grupo Inmobiliario released a note to clients last week on its Facebook page to address the claims.

“All of our projects – contrary to what was indicated today in a nationally circulated news article – do exist and are in process of completing requirements for the corresponding legal institutions,” the memo said. The company’s statement added that it had recently changed offices, and that’s why phone numbers and addresses given to clients appeared to be nonexistent.

A YouTube page under the Homes Grupo Inmobiliario name has a handful of videos promoting condominium and model house projects, including the Real Garita and Condado del Valle developments mentioned in the Prosecutor’s Office press release.

Luxury homes in Condado del Valle are advertised at a rates starting at $109,900, while Real Garita’s residences are offered at rates starting as $122,700.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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