Real Estate and Fraud Abroad: Attorney Roger Brown Helps Investors Seek Justice
A dispute over a real estate deal in the Bahamas has led to a contentious and fevered legal battle, drawing attention to the caution required in real estate deals, as well as the longstanding challenges associated with purchasing land abroad.
Business Trial Group attorney Roger Brown represents the investors who filed the lawsuit, which features a dispute over the legality of a property sale. In pursuit of a just resolution, Brown recently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of his clients.
Several aspects of this case illustrate the considerable complexities involved in real estate and investment fraud litigation.
Agent Misconduct and Misinformation
At the heart of the dispute is the issue of agent misconduct and misinformation about the sale of land. Investor John Brier and three additional investors who purchased land allege that the seller of the land, Billy Wayne Davis, failed to provide several important pieces of information. The land in question is located on Long Island in the Bahamas.
Notably, when Brier sought to sell the investment through realtors in the Bahamas, none wished to take on the sale. The realtors informed Brier that the initial sale of land was illegal under the Planning and Subdivisions Act, as there was an absence of subdivision approval. Brier alleges that Davis and his sales agent, Albert Jansen, never disclosed this information prior to purchase.
Additionally, Brier claims that he and his fellow investors never received title deeds confirming the ownership of the land. The purchase conveyance sent to Brier also allegedly featured several errors, including errors regarding the seller and price. The other three investors claim to have not received a conveyance at all.
Failing to communicate the lack of subdivision approval properly prior to the sale of the land is an oversight that taints the transaction. After all, if Brier had known that the subdivision had not been approved, he may not have purchased the land in the first place.
To further complicate matters, after the investors pursued criminal investigations against the sellers, on March 31, 2015, the sellers agreed to enter into a settlement agreement with the investors, whereby a third party, Keith De Cay, would purchase the speculative land. De Cay, however, allegedly later failed to pay the amounts due under the settlement.
Bahamas Land Deals
This case is not the first such dispute over land in the Bahamas. Lawrence Foster was sentenced to 152 months in jail for fraudulently promising investors that his company, Paradise Is Mine, was developing land on the Rum Cay. Similar to the Davis case, Foster was found to have no title to the land promised to the investors, and Foster collected upwards of $8.3 million from the scam.
Interestingly, Billy Wayne Davis was also featured in the Foster case. Former Attorney General Carl Bethel was noted as incorporating Sunward Holdings into Paradise Is Mine, which owned the Rum Cay property being sold to investors by Foster. At the time of the indictment, ownership of the company had been transferred to Davis. Flashes of Davis’ suspect real estate dealings were mentioned here, including mention of Davis’ 1994 conviction of providing false information on a loan application concerning land he allegedly owned in the Bahamas.
Unfortunately, the remote and relatively undeveloped nature of the islands that attracts investors looking for tropical getaways also attracts unscrupulous fraudsters looking to take advantage of buyers who are not familiar with the intricacies of foreign real estate transactions. Even if everything appears legitimate initially, it may not be until months after money has already been transferred that a party discovers the investment is not as originally represented.
Stay Alert and Informed
When purchasing real estate, keep a few simple tips in mind to detect and avoid falling victim to fraudulent activity:
- Physically visit the property prior to purchase. Pictures may accurately represent the beautiful beach views, but may fail to disclose issues like lack of access roads to the property or that utilities are not available in that area.
- Obtain opinions from independent, local attorneys that can advise about the legality of the deal.
- Put the purchase money into escrow to ensure that valid deeds are obtained and verified prior to release of the funds.
- Do your homework and use common sense. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
If you are involved in a real estate dispute, we can help. Our experienced complex commercial litigation attorneys represent organizations and individuals in a wide-variety of real estate related claims. For instance, in 2014, we achieved a $14.5 Million verdict on behalf of a defrauded real estate developer. And in 2016, we helped a commercial real estate broker win a $427,800 verdict for an unpaid commission.
The Business Trial Group handles real estate litigation on a contingency-fee basis, so you will not pay any legal fees unless and until we successfully obtain a recovery in your case.
Learn more with a free case review.