I hope everyone here is smart enough to know that boards like this are targets for all kinds of scam artists to ply their con games. Unfortunately, folks who like to walk off with other folks' hard earned dough seem to be drawn to Belize like moths to a flame. They talk big and paint pretty pictures and promise all kinds of things to lure "investors" (sheep to be sheared) into their webs. Below is a story from the San Jose Mercury News about one such gang of crooks, who somehow managed to get enough idiots to send $$ to a PO Box in Belize City to earn over $60 mil.
There are plenty of legitimate business opportunities on Ambergris Caye, but watch out for the "dream-weavers" and keep a firm hand on your wallet. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Caveat Emptor! There is no free lunch.
Posted on Sat, Jan. 04, 2003
Web page designer named in Net fraud
INDICTMENT ALLEGES $60 MILLION SCHEME
By Mary Anne Ostrom
James Michael Webb lived a modest life designing Web pages in his Mountain View apartment during the mid-1990s. His dream, propelled by the Internet boom, was to run his own online business.
Today, Webb sits in a Sacramento prison accused by federal authorities of using his Internet skills to help bilk $60 million from 15,000 investors worldwide -- one of the largest online investment fraud schemes ever uncovered.
The 40-year-old San Mateo native, described as shy and thoughtful, and his Canadian employer, Alyn Richard Waage, face a 24-count indictment, handed down this week by a Sacramento federal grand jury. The indictment alleges the two committed wire and mail fraud and money laundering as part of a two-year scheme run out of Mexico and Costa Rica that stretched to banks in Latvia and New York.
Proceeds from the fraud operations, an information-age Ponzi scheme, paid for a $2.3 million Costa Rica compound known as Rancho Marquis and a $1.5 million Bell helicopter, housed on the property's helipad. Other purchases included several more properties in Costa Rica and Mexico, a 50-foot yacht valued at $630,000, more than a dozen late-model vehicles including Toyota Land Cruisers and Lincoln Navigators, and millions of dollars in bank accounts in three countries.
Webb's public defender, John Balazs, said his client plans to plead not guilty at Tuesday's scheduled arraignment. He told the court Webb was ``an innocent dupe.'' Each money-laundering charge carries up to a 20-year prison sentence.
In another legal proceeding, Webb claimed he only has $14,300 in two bank accounts and a Jeep Cherokee. Waage's attorney could not be reached for comment.
Waage is identified in the indictment as the founder of Tri-West Investment Club, originally run out of Puerto Vallarta and later San Jose, Costa Rica. He met and hired Webb as his chief Web-page designer, who created a savvy-looking Web site that persuaded investors from 60 countries to send cashier's checks and money orders ranging from $1,000 to more than $100,000 to post-office boxes in Belize and the Bahamas.
The Web site promised 120 percent annual returns on the principal investment, plus huge referral fees amounting to 15 percent of investments those referrals generated. Investors were to receive their dividends funneled through banks in Latvia and New York state, and some early ones did.
In April, Waage's son pleaded guilty to two charges. Three others allegedly involved in the scheme, including Waage's wife, remain fugitives.