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Costa Rica Investments 101; Beware of Scams

Costa Rica News – Have you heard about how great the investment opportunities are in Costa Rica? There are some amazing possibilities, as well as common pitfalls to avoid. Some of the aspects making Costa Rica investor friendly include the stable democracy, protective real estate laws, low taxes, no Capital Gains Tax, and no ownership restrictions.

real-estate-fraudCosta Rica Real Estate Investments

Looking to triple your money often leads people to do one of two things, be a pioneer or be ridiculously too trusting. To be a successful investor in the real estate arena you can look into pioneering the southern part of the country.

Buying land or homes in the south will be a sure fire way to make some money in the next few years as the area’s infrastructure is rapidly developing. If you prefer to steer clear of uncharted waters consider buying in an area that’s already developed and attractive to foreign buyers. Buying a condo or home in Escazu and updating it will make for a quick resell at a guaranteed high price in this proven market.

Location is key. Some places are overpriced, others have too much competition. Look for developing areas that already have a basic infrastructure like roads, a supermarket, and a medical clinic. Don’t buy in the middle of nowhere. The roads and bridges to the south are being updated.

The paving of the Pacific Coast Highway makes it easier and quicker to get to Dominical and southern locations, increasing property value. Anyone who bought land there before the highway has already seen a return on investment. Plan to put work in yourself, or at least direct it.

Buying a condo that’s on a developing property often leads to having a condo that remains in the same state you bought it in, despite the pretty blueprints you saw of a marina, spa, and golf course. Plans don’t always get finished. Being aware of this and expecting it will save you the headache and money loss.

Anytime you buy land or a home it must be registered with the government and you must get an official title. Don’t fall for a sale that has no legal validity.

Finally, be very wary of any agricultural real estate investments in Costa Rica. Most are long term schemes to sell inexpensive farmland at an increased value.  They are basically legal scams.

Business InvestmentsVillalobos Brothers

Now about business investments. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Take for example the Villalobos Brothers business. This is one of many similar businesses, differing only in that this one was exposed as a scam already.

Many North Americans invested money after hearing convincing promises of 30% returns. Those who go out early managed to make up to 42%, while the rest lost everything. It turned out to be a twenty year Ponzi scheme. Many investors left the money so that the interest would compound. The few who saw their investments growing spread the word and over 6,000 people joined. The brothers made $800 million plus. When the government caught wind of this ‘business’ all of the accounts were frozen and an investigation on money laundering started. Those affected in the scheme lost their life savings because of being gullible. They trusted a reputation, fake checks, and the brothers who seemed real. Anyone can learn your language and your culture and act like a friend. Don’t invest with friends. Do your research. Real businesses are registered with the government.

Non-existent businesses are often used in investment schemes. Please note that internet reviews can be made by anyone. Fake businesses often have only good reviews. Also be aware that Costa Rica doesn’t have any private banks that only the elite know about. The general public knows about every private bank. Don’t invest in any prime invisible banks.

Investment seminars can be a great way to learn about opportunities, but don’t invest in anything on the same day of the event. Do research and avoid anyone who tells you that you must invest today before they leave the country. Legitimate investment opportunities will still be available the next week.

In summary always come down to Costa Rica and check out the investment opportunity in person. Higher you own lawyer to do the required due diligence on the “investment opportunity” be it in real estate,a business  or something else. Always be wary of opportunities that seem too good to be true.


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