November 28, 2008


Jesús is far from being the only victim of an off-plan property swindle - real estate scams are being uncovered here regularly - though I very much doubt if the latest revelation below will be of any consolation either to him or his erstwhile ‘fiancée’. (Having been defrauded of so much money, he says he can’t now afford to buy another apartment and so has had to postpone indefinitely any thought of getting married.)

Police in Andalucía have cracked open a fake real estate ring thought to have cheated 200 foreign property investors out of more than €65 million. So far two people have been arrested and 20 others charged with fraud.

The network, operating out of offices in Málaga, targeted foreign property investors, many of them British, at real estate fairs and through internet and telephone advertising, offering them the opportunity to invest off-plan in fictitious new developments on the Costa del Sol. To make their activities seem legitimate, the network had obtained land through offshore companies which it then foisted on front companies in Spain at inflated prices.

Furthermore, it exploited the fact that the investors were not in Spain to cover up their true intentions. After taking the investors’ money and having them sign apparently official contracts, none of the properties were ever built.

Property scandals, whether they involve foreign investors or Spanish nationals like Jesús, continue to cast a shadow over the Costa del Sol’s reputation. And it seems increasingly difficult to shake off the seedy, tarnished image of former Mayor Jesús Gil (above). But more on him in the next post…

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