The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling approximately $10 million to consumers nationwide who bought deceptively marketed overseas real estate lots in what the sellers pitched as Sanctuary Belize, a supposed luxury development being built in southern, coastal Belize. Today, the FTC is mailing 1,198 refund checks to defrauded investors. The average amount of each check is $8,286.47.
The FTC filed its complaint in November 2018 charging that Andris Pukke, a prior FTC defendant, and several other corporate and individual defendants deceived consumers who invested in Sanctuary Belize by promising they were investing in a luxury development and resort. The defendants, however, failed to deliver on the promised amenities, and consumers who invested in Sanctuary property lost money and could not resell their lots.
Following a trial in 2020, the FTC won a verdict that the scheme took in more than $100 million. As the court found, the defendants duped consumers into buying Sanctuary Belize lots by falsely claiming it would be a safe investment, that the development would include luxury amenities and be completed soon, consumers could resell their lots, and that Pukke was not involved.
The defendants appealed, but the Court of Appeals confirmed the deceptive scheme and the monetary judgment against Pukke and his associates, Peter Baker and John Usher. The District Court has now ordered the receiver to send an initial round of refunds, with the money coming from previous settlements.
Consumers who receive checks should cash them within 120 days, as indicated on the check. Consumers with questions about their refunds should email the receiver, Marc-Philip Ferzan, who is being supported by Ankura Consulting Group, LLC, at email@example.com. The application process for requesting a refund is closed, and the receiver is no longer accepting applications from consumers.
The Commission’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds in FTC cases. In 2022, Commission actions led to more than $392 million in refunds to consumers across the country.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
Mitchell J. Katz