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Hacienda Matapalo – Another Scam Project Bites The Dust

It seems that another Costa Rica Real Estate project was only ever going to be renderings and images in someones mind. The once overhyped Costa Rica real estate project, Hacienda Matapalo, has found itself abandoned and out of cash. Despite receiving millions in investment and presale figures over $65 million, Hacienda Matapalo appears all but without life these days. A drive by the project and it reminds you of another failed development venture — also based out of Florida — when Paragon Properties jumped ship.

Promises of Costa Rican dream homes fueled a ‘Ponzi-type scheme,’ lawsuit says about six months back, WeLoveCostaRica owner, Scott Oliver, let the cat out of the bag about the holding company of Hacienda Matapalo (Centam Partners LLC) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on the 20th of December 2011 in a South Florida Bankruptcy court.

This created a stir of panic and activity from the “mum’s the word” directors of Hacienda Matapalo. For which soon after (1 day) they would release PR to try and counter the effects of this damning news going public.

Since then, all the onsite staff like Nathan Posey and Keith Blackburn, who were heading up the onsite sales office at Hacienda Matapalo, have left the country and moved back to the United States to seek employment.

Ed Sklar, the once flamboyant marketing director for the project — the man who made claims of over $65m in presales — has since removed all references to Hacienda Matapalo from his LinkedIn profile and is actively seeking employment as marketing director for any business silly enough to consider him.

Costa Rica Real Estate Pre-Construction Sales Surpass $60 Million at Hacienda Matapalo

Why silly? Well behind Mr. Sklar was a team of highly skilled individuals who made it all possible. This included myself who single handedly took HM from nothing in the search rankings, to being ranked as high as #5 on Page 1 of Google for Costa Rica real estate. In fact, still to this day all this work is sustaining despite HM being all but abandoned.

However I can not take all the credit for there were spectacular people who made it possible for HM to sell presales like they did. Canadian marketing firm, Costa Rica Estates, also did a tremendous job of implementing an inbound marketing strategy for HM only to be handed the short end of the stick when HM closed it’s doors.

So for Mr. Sklar to take any credit for marketing (outside of reprinting existing content to LinkedIn) is ludicrous and he should be ashamed of himself.

The following link shows what Mr. Sklar is up to these days and well…to put it lightly it’s a tad amateur don’t you agree? This site of his will sell you anything from office furniture to real estate marketing. Ed Sklar – New Website

Yes…it is true that HM was a client and also an advertiser on this site — and if we’d had a crystal ball to know this would unfold the way it did, we’d have never promoted them to our loyal readers.

With millions of dollars in investment coming in — who’d have thought they would blow it all and end up where they are…bankrupt.

As it would appear, it’s almost as though the directors of HM, Ed Sklar included, are busy dusting over their tracks trying to distance themselves from the Hacienda Matapalo project.

How do investors feel about this? Share your thoughts below we love to hear your perspective.

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7 Comments

  1. amelia lewis said:

    We lost a lot of retirement money and our faith in ourselves as reasonably prudent individuals. We feel taken in the worst way and our dreams have evaporated along with our money.

  2. admin said:

    Here is some info that investors might be able to use…One of the lawyers who represented the investors in the failed Jaco Wyndham Jade project has been made aware of the Hacienda Matapalo situation. Please call him with inquiries about a joint legal action to get your money back. His name is Matthew Sarelson in Florida and his number is 305-379-0305.

  3. Esterillos Este said:

    Is this the next scam in Costa Rica (Esterillos Este) by people from Florida and Canada?

    I would like to bring to your attention a possible ponzi scheme/real estate fraud that is currently being carried out in Esterillos Este, Costa Rica. I have not been affected by this possible scam and no one I know has been affected by it. On the website they do mention that they have raised approximately 3 million dollars to date for the project.

    The website for this investment is: http://www.higherlifeestatesinc.com/
    Costa Rica (506) 8-524-1706

    The list of partners for this venture can be found here: http://www.higherlifeestatesinc.com/ourteam/

    One of the “Partners” is Larry Schooler, a resident of Clearwater, FL. A cursory search of the internet shows that Larry Schooler has business associations with a Anthony J Troiano who you may recall was sentenced on March 20, 2012 to six years in prison for fraud, some of it linked to projects in Costa Rica.
    http://www.justice.gov/usao/flm/press/2011/nov/20111114_Troiano.html
    http://www.justice.gov/usao/flm/press/2012/mar/20120320__Troiano.html

    Here are links to several companies that Larry Schooler and Anthony J Troiano have in common.
    http://www.bizapedia.com/ak/QUADSTAR-LAND-MANAGEMENT-GROUP-LLC.html
    http://www.bizapedia.com/ak/GIDAMON-LAND-INVESTMENTS-LLC.html
    http://www.bizapedia.com/ak/MONTEREY-VISTAS-LAND-INVESTORS-GROUP-LLC.html
    http://www.bizapedia.com/ak/PHASE-V-LAND-INVESTORS-GROUP-LLC.html

    Lawsuit in Florida that mentions Larry Schooler.
    http://www.news-press.com/assets/pdf/A4142845919.PDF

    Links to YouTube sites:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/HigherLifeTV/videos
    http://www.youtube.com/user/HigherLifeEstatesInc/videos

    Be careful everyone!

  4. Robert said:

    This is so sad. Really nice guys who had honest intentions, may have embellished a tiny bit about $65M in pre-sales…. but got caught in the credit crisis – bad timing.

    I toured the “would be” project with my wife and we were in shock – a humid, sticky rain forest site with terrain so treacherous that our horses had a tough time climbing the mountain. I felt badly for the guys involved. They were in over their heads.

    Nathan was a fine host, but you didn’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that there was NO way homes were going to be built on small lots on a steep rain forest site. The entrance looked like swampland and there was nothing nearby – no stores, no hospital, no human beings. It was the jungle. The bugs were the size of small bats. This project was clearly the result of owners who got scammed by the person who sold them the property for 10x its true value. A realtor explained to us – she laughed and told us their Tico partner ripped them off. Go figure.

    So, our Q to the angry investors is – why didn’t you do your homework and use common sense?

    You gave these nice guys your hard earned cash didn’t you? Did you visit the site? If not, its your own fault sorry. We toured and gave an immediate pass the same day. TRUMP’s $1 Billion army couldn’t get that project built and nor could a start-up amateur group of real estate salesmen from Florida who knew nothing about Costa Rican culture nor development. It was plain as day.

    We’re very sorry that Haciendo flopped, but it was NO surprise to us; bad timing, bad location, bad master plan, inexperienced developer and overpriced property.

    Bottom line – Don’t accuse people of fraud. Take onus and blame yourself for giving them your money in the 1st pace.

  5. Rick said:

    My wife and I went to CR to look at possible retirement homes and one that we toured was Hacienda Matapalo in 2010. We stayed in Quespos and drove ourselves to the development and met with a sales rep. At the time it seemed on the “up and up” but all we saw was a trailer out front and were driven around some hilly terrain in the hills in a 4WD on rough cut roads while we were treated to a continuous sales monoloque. I actually enjoyed the drive through up and down the hills then over to the beach, plenty of wildlife and very peaceful. However, neither of us believed much of what we heard and my wife commented that it all sounded so “grandiose”, with everything you could imagine. We saw the online renderings and they looked too good to be true. We did not purchase. We also looked around at other homes and locations including Univita, Quepos, Dominical and Jaco, but found it difficult to understand the real estate law in CR and even to get straight answers but we often visit CR on vacations now. The part that turned me off was the pitch about securing the investment using a 401K. We are not experts in investing nor finance, nor are we rich, but anything we fail to understand we stay away from be it a new cell phone or a land deal. I’m sorry to hear that anyone lost money due to these scams and wish you luck in obtaining justice, either through the courts or through your own means.
    Rick

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