Monday, September 29, 2008

HERMOSA HIGHLANDS: A SCAM?!?

About 3 years ago I made an inquiry on the internet, looking for an investment / relocating opportunity somewhere in Costa Rica. Shortly after I received a call from Mr.Mark Ott, who sold me a building site with "the most awe inspiring views" of the central pacific coast line and the town of Jaco, the Marriot, etc... I was asked to put a deposit into an Escrow Account in order to reserve said site till I get down there. I followed the steps, put money into Escrow with Stewart Title and finally about 60 days later I landed in San Jose CR. I was picked up at the office and put up in a very nice hotel in Escazu. The next day at around 5am Mr.Ott and I jumped into his white Dodge Ram pick up truck and shot down to Jaco. Besides that I feared for my life having Mr.Ott racing down these curvey, narrow mountain roads, getting to the ocean was a wonderful thing. We were having fresh fruits and coffee in the most beautiful Condo Hotel in Jaco, located on the south end of the town. From there we started climbing up an even narrower dirt road for about 30-40 min, which felt only like 5-10 min, due to his excessive driving! Now, beeing on top of this ridge called "Cerro Fresco" I felt I had found what I was looking for: The most overwhelming views over the Central Pacific, away from the City noise of Jaco yet within reach though. It wasnt exactly 5-10min. from town as I was told earlier by Mr.Ott, but I could have lived with that 40min. drive. I was shown beautiful Computer Renderings, Master Plans, R.O.I. scemes, Rental Income scemes,... and so on and so forth... ALL TO BE DELIVERED WITHIN 24 MONTH!!!

Bottomline:
Its been almost 3 years now and NOTHING has happened! Yes they have moved some dirt here and there, they even put up a concrete silo on one of the terraces but after all: I dont see any final building permits being obtained neither do I see any intempt of discussing an eventual arrangement regarding the breach of contract regarding the time line! Besides that I am getting constantly bombarded with phone calls from Hermosa Highlands, telling me I was in default on my installments!!! which is completely false because my contract is containing the clause in which further installments are depending on Title and construction!

So please, if anybody has a similar experience with this company..... Lets get our money back!!!

33 comments:

jeff said...

hello peter,
my name is jeff and i bought 2 condos with hermosa highlands / villas altas. both condos are in default on delivery. i havent been out to costa rica in over a year and would like to see some onsite photos or even speak to somebody that has been out there recently. i am also getting these phone calls from this guy called JOE, asking me for more money...
i am glad someone finally gets proactive against these crooks!

Daniel said...

Hello Peter and Jeff,
this whole real estate investing into costa rica kind of interests me a lot, but at the same time it scares me very much. I have been looking into Hermosa Highlands because they seem to have the best webdesign. I also researched the owner Mark Ott and found interesting material about him on the web.
Please check out http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/976/976.F2d.1257.90-50629.html
I hope I am not taking all hopes from you getting your money back but Mark Ott has a criminal past related to fraud and scam.
Good luck though!
DannyHello Peter and Jeff,
this whole real estate investing into costa rica kind of interests me a lot, but at the same time it scares me very much. I have been looking into Hermosa Highlands because they seem to have the best webdesign. I also researched the owner Mark Ott and found interesting material about him on the web.
Please check out http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/976/976.F2d.1257.90-50629.html
I hope I am not taking all hopes from you getting your money back but Mark Ott has a criminal past related to fraud and scam.
Good luck though!
Danny

jeff said...

Thanks Danny,
really encouraging... No it really just opened my eyes. I read that document about his conviction article 7/8.... I will do more research on the king of scam and post all valuable information on this blog.
Thanks again, Jeff

Peter Pensum said...

Hello Jeff and Danny,
it seems like my dream of a piece of land with a home overlooking Jaco and the majestic Pacific ocean is slowly falling apart. I know for a fact that there are already multiple lawsuits filed against Mark Ott and Hermosa Highlands by unsatisfied clients. So I guess I am not the only one that is truely unsatisfied. I read the Article about Mr.Ott's conviction for multiple fraud scemes under
http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/976/976.F2d.1257.90-50629.html
so I guess a lawsuit against him here in the U.S. would eventually be more successful, since he's a known felon. I will look into that a little more and keep you posted on possibilities on how to get our money back the fastest.
Peter

Peter Pensum said...

OK GUYS, CHECK THIS OUT:


CRDC Moves to Open China Office Following Establishment of Intensified Trade Relations
Expecting the new solid diplomatic and trade relations between Costa Rica and The People’s Republic of China to lead to business from high-end Chinese investors, the Costa Rica Development Corporation has decided to open an office in this country.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 18, 2008 – SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – In order to take advantage of recently strengthened diplomatic relations, Costa Rican Development Corporation (CRDC) is making plans to open an office in China, a move that could propel this leader in the Costa Rica real estate market to even higher status among investors. CRDC’s
strategic move could easily open the door for construction of more lavish residential developments, such as Cerro Fresco (www.cerrofresco.com/), to fill a growing interest in Costa Rica as a choice for retirement, vacations, and investments.

Talks between Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, and Costa Rica Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, began in 2007. After lengthy negotiations, the two representatives agreed on the terms of the new diplomatic relations and issued a joint communiqué detailing the specific expectations and requirements. Referring to his country’s already established trade relationship with The People’s Republic of China, Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias, commented, "For Costa Rica this is an act of foreign policy realism which promotes our links to Asia. It is my responsibility to recognize a global player as important as the People's Republic of China. With this decision we join 178 nations in the United Nations that have recognized the People's Republic of China.”

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) recently co-hosted, along with the Costa Rica Council for the Promotion of Foreign Trade, The Trade Fair of the People’s Republic of China. The event, held from September 11 – September 14, 2008, in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose´, allowed the CCPIT to display its business offerings in a variety of fields, including electronics, telecommunications, science, technology and automobiles. The trade show helped generate more interest in pushing forward with a China-Costa Rica free trade agreement.

Costa Rica real estate developers such as the Costa Rican Development Corporation are expecting the new trade relations with China to bring heightened interest to their high-end market listings. Cerro Fresco, an exclusive residential estate community, has less than forty percent of its Balinese open-air villas still available, and it is expected that Chinese investors will be purchasing many of these.

# # #

About CRDC: The Costa Rican Development Corporation (CRDC), specializing in the design and development of luxury residential communities, provides its customers with first class quality and service. CRDC is a prominent Costa Rica real estate developer, and proudly offers listings in these communities: Cerro Fresco, Hermosa Highlands, Villas Altas, and Highland Estates. For more information about the popular Cerro Fresco development, please visit www.cerrofresco.com/.

SURE AS SHIT WE GOT SCAMED... OUR MONEY IS GOING OUT TO CHINA AS WE SPEAK..... PETER

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

I purchased a condo and a property from Hermosa Highlands approximately two years ago. The Joe person mentioned has contacted me also for $$ when there has been no condominuim permits issued for any Hermosa Highlands condominiums yet. There are infrastructure & environment permits issued, but I am buying a condominium, not a road.

I would like to receive email(s) from anyone else concerned about their Hermosa Highlands purchase. We would do better as a group than separately in trying to address concerns. If you feel the same way I do, please email me at concernedeabouthermosahighland@gmail.com

Regards.

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

Rather my email address is ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands@gmail.com

Fott said...

SCAMED!!! Sorry but its true..Mark Ott is a veterain phone crook. Truth is he has never built ANYTHING!!! The hotel you stayed in san jose just so happens to be where he lives. He cant even get a loan for a home of his own. Fancy web pages and a song he stole from a soap opera on tv is really working. Not one building has gone up contracts are well past due and hes trying to start other projects?????? Fact of the matter is the view is only during dry season!!! After that its fog for 6 months.THATS WHY HE GOES AT 5AM AND SUPER FAST before it fogs up!!! Most REAL developers stay away from land like that. But since hes just a boiler room crook he doesnt know any better. JOE is what mark calls the nice guy...the guy you cant say no too. HE wants all the rest of your money to pay for his websites and his "office" in china. We have a very close eye one this guy as too many lawsuits have gone up but not one condo, house, villa NOTHING!!! Did you all know that water in jaco tends to run short during dry season?? Plus with all these new projects.. Tell me how mark ott plans to build and drill on jacos water table?????? He also worked for paragon properties to find ways to better sell his crap ideas. And make some money then steal the clients from them. oh and his dodge truck belongs to a guy named John who was an invester but was scamed as well....I have a great lawer working on this as ive been scamed by this jerk. YOU ALL NEED LEGAL HELP YOU CAN GET YOUR MONEY BACK. HE WONT BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY UNTIL HE PAYS UP if it is done right!! Problem is mark is trying to sue people even clients for talking "bad" about him.
Best thing to do is NOT PAY unless your condo or home is DONE. DO NOT TAKE HIS WORD ON ANYTHING!!!! Most people who call to complain end up buying more. Make this known ask for your money or contact me for legal help..

Fott said...

Default means its refund time!!! He has to give EVERYBODY THEIR MONEY BACK!! That would put him out..If you need help to find a good laywer ask...Have a guy working on a number of cases against mark and he speaks english. These are hard times in the world dont let a crook get your money to.

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

So who is this lawyer that has a number of cases against Mark? FOTT there is no way to contact you, no email.

Jades said...

test

Jades said...

Hello - I know the project, Mark Ott, some employees, and some customers. He's not a personal friend. Most large projects today - and not just in Costa Rica - face lawsuits from customers who are panicked because they cannot follow through on their purchase. IN some cases, the project didn't meet deadlines because customers panicked or couldn't follow through so the project couldn't step up construction. Hermosa Highlands does not have water problems; their 5 wells are permitted correctly and yielding very well. They do have their permits, except for final step which is actual construction permits and that is a rubber-stamp at the Municipality. So why haven't they started building condos? Basically the same reason most construction stopped throughout Costa Rica; there has been a freeze on bank financing which is slowly thawing. The project has a very high valuation and will eventually get bank or private financing. The alternative to financing is that customers continue with their scheduled payments, but this not unique: some cannot; their personal finances have been hit too badly. Hermosa Highlands has improved its road, and run 3-phase electricity up from the coast. Rather than get worked up over the bad experiences recounted here, it might make sense to stop railing against the CEO; just call him up and talk to him. yes, he made an error 22 years ago, when he was 19 or 20, and served 18 months (16 years ago), and he's a salesman. They've got a superb engineer. If you're a customer, drive up there and take a look for yourself. Bear in mind the reality of nearly every new real estate project in Costa Rica: permits always take longer than anyone expected, financing is extremely slow, and committed customers worldwide have been abandoning deposits because their stock portfolio collapsed and they refuse to let go of cash. Once we all get tired of panic, and normal economic behavior returns, this project will go up. Quite likely, an investment in real estate in CR or Panama has held up a whole lot better than one in the USA.

nopushover1 said...

I would like to know what Jades' relationship is to Mr.and Mrs.Ott, given this person says they are not a personal friend, yet seem to have intimate knowledge of very specific business matters, even as far as the number of wells, and permitting status. What a copout to blame panicked investors for lack of commitment fulfullment. Rather, lack of commitment fulfillment leads to panicked investors! How much personal money has Jades invested with them? I know many people who have worked hard to become successful, while managing to avoid prison. I read the report. Mr. Ott's prison time wasn't for a "mistake", it was for premeditated fraud designed to separate unsuspecting investors from their money. This point goes to the fiber of one's moral character.That doesn't change just because one moves to a different country. Moral character speaks to how one conducts oneself with others in their business and personal life. How easy it is to say to us to just take a drive up there when most of us live in the US. Sure times are tough, but there are tons of projects in the Jaco/Hermosa area which are not in default and their investors are living there happily, or making rental income as of today off their investments. Within Costa Rica, it is well known that both the Otts have taken a road that,fortunately, most of us do not follow. I have close friends in San Jose who are aware of other legal matters in which the Otts are involved and it is no less than shocking the way they conduct themselves. I do agree that Panama is a much safer investment and have personally decided to invest there and have been extremely happy with that decision.

Carlos Tico said...

I used to be an employee for hermosa highlands, great office,good salary, etc, but once you start doing your due diligence on the product that we where selling then we noticed a lot of lies. The biggest lie is the property itself, because you cant build on a cliff, Mr. Ott lives in a Hotel with his family ready to move as soon as something goes wrong, right now he closed his sales office, and he is selling some sort of mortgage deal to the leads hes got left. I am Costa Rican and i quit as soon as i found about this big scam, but i dont like to see people talking bad about my country because you guys where scamed by a northamerican. Most americans that do bussiness with americans here in Costa Rica are ussually scamed so be very carefull with your own kind. If i can be of any help here in Costa Rica , i will be very happy to help you out.
Costa Rica is a nice and peacefull place and is great place to live not even compared to Panama or any other destiny here in Latin America

Glenn said...

please contact me at gf1@prodigy.net, i too was a victum of this fraud.

FOTT said...

Hello Hello,,,This is FOTT Cases are being won against mark!!! Just heard of a new one though cant mention any names, But you can get your money back its the law. Also this jades has to be mark because he spends his day online doing well what you see here covering tracks. Iam very very informed on the hermosa scamlands project. Have any of you noticed that almost all HH or tuscan what ever its BS also or conch, website leads to him? He is a marketing pro.
IAM SICK TO MY STOMACH FROM THAT SCUMBAG PIECE OF SH**. You want to battle this the right way send me an email i can help already have my case in the works and boy is this guy a liar. Doesnt even have the balls to show up in court sends his lawyers to handle his dirty work. P.S. its not the big law firm that he sold us on. Just have to be a little cautious because if you bad mouth the ott he will try and sue you. As he is doing it to a number of ex workers who know the truth and he owes money to them as well.
Email- scammed_by_mott@yahoo.com
We can get our money from this guy but it has to be done the right way. I understand many people cant fly here to watch over this matter but i can help.. He has ripped off way waaaay to many people if you only knew just how many. I DO

jason_rodriguez101180 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dale said...

Hey Jades shut your mouth!! #1 Mark Ott should not have sold not a single lot with out ALL THE PERMITS ALREADY IN PLACE.

Dale said...

hermosahighlandsclosed.blogspot.com

New blog made myself. ??? How to you get these things on the main google page?? EVERYBODY NEEDS TO SEE THIS
New information on hermosa highlands being closed!
VILLAS ALTAS, CERRO FRESCO,HIGHLAND ESTATES, ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT...CLOSED
MARK IS SELLING RE-MORGAGES ANOTHER SCAM TO COVER HIS LUNCH MONEY...
FULL STORY

hermosahighlandsclosed.blogspot.com

Mark said...

It is clear that the sponsors of this blog, as well as the vast majority of those posing as clients of Hermosa Highlands are misrepresenting their identities here. They are conspiring to damage the reputation of Hermosa Highlands for monetary gain through the solicitation of legal fees and commissions for their effort.

A confidential client list belonging to Hermosa Highlands has been used without permission to bring our valued customers to this blog.

It’s unlikely that a client would deliberately damage their own equity positions by attacking Hermosa Highlands, in which they have invested.

Through the most severe economic downturn of our lifetime, this company continues to operate and perform every day on behalf of our customers, overcoming major challenges that many of our peers have not been able to survive. The delay in delivery of Hermosa Highlands properties is not unique to this development company; almost every project within Costa Rica, and many in the US and Canada, have seen delays. In most cases, they face continued delays, due to the financial contraction of commercial lenders across the globe.

It is also important to mention that because Hermosa Highlands took no shortcuts in its permitting process, our permits took longer to obtain. Across Costa Rica there are numerous projects that went ahead before having all their permits in place and unimpeachable; they have been shut down and many will never be completed. Hermosa Highlands made a commitment to our customers to complete all environmental and permitting requirements, and has not wavered from that commitment. Our customers will benefit from its adherence to that strict policy.

The negative and often inaccurate comments about Hermosa Highlands and its personnel that are found here constitute a direct assault against the investments of Hermosa Highlands’ customers. The unscrupulous persons leading this activity have no concern for your return on investment or principle value.

Don’t be misled by these persons and their negative statements. An investigation is underway, involving the hosts of these blogs and their participants. It is one thing to express an opinion or state a fact; however it is illegal to misrepresent or distort facts for the purpose of inflicting commercial harm. Statements on these blogs have been designed to mislead customers and prospective clients, and to undermine and harm the reputation of Hermosa Highlands and our team. The investigation that is under way will be comprehensive and we intend to prosecute to the fullest extent allowed under applicable jurisdictions.

If you have been emailed, called or spammed by unsolicited persons or by a company seeking to deliver negative statements about Hermosa Highlands to you, then we invite you to contact our legal team directly. Additionally, if you were given a presentation that defamed this company’s name and then – or later – you were shown a competitors project in the recent past by these same persons, your information could be valuable. There will not be a need to name you in the prosecutorial documents, and you can remain anonymous if you prefer.
By assisting in this investigation, you can help protect your investment. All Hermosa Highlands personnel take tremendous pride in their dedication to our clientele. They remain completely committed to bringing this exemplary project to fruition for the benefit of every client and his/her family. The CEO of the company continues to work without respite to see the entire project through to completion and its full potential, with full and complete observance of all construction, contractual, and environmental mandates.

This will be our only participation in this space. Again, to assist in pursuit of the persons in question who have defamed Hermosa Highlands and sought to damage the value of your investment, please call us direct at 800-729-5212.


Mark Ott,

CEO

Hermosa Highlands SA.

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

Peter Pensum: Have you abandoned your blog? Where are you with Hermosa Highlands?

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ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

I am a Hermosa Highlands investor with nothing to show for my $$. I would like to receive email(s) from anyone else concerned about their Hermosa Highlands purchase. Please email me at concernedeabouthermosahighland@gmail.com

Scam said...

As I'm writing this, Mark is selling all the office equipment such as plasma flat screens, laptops, furniture...everything.

The rest of his belongs are hidden in a storage located outside of Escazu.

They owes money to everybody... office rent, suppliers, advertise, employees and of course investors.

Even now, he is saying that "I'll pay you next week, I'm waiting for a huge loan from a group of investors"... for your satisfaction, I'm sure that he get's scammed hard, since he had to invest in some expensive legal diligence's to get new funds.

Weird, but someone who is "broke" is living at the Marriot residences in Escazu.

I encourage anyone who read this to take legal actions against him, and of course... I hope that you get your money back some day.

Tim said...

Hello all,
I also invested in Hermosa Highlans a few yaers ago and was getting regular updates from a guy called Jason Benny up until last November. However, I am now having trouble getting hold of anyone via phone or e-mail.
I can only assume that the whole thing is indeed a complete scam.

Randy Kraus said...

has anybody been successful in putting a lean against mark or the land.

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

Are you a Hermosa Highlands investor, Randy?

randykraus40 said...

yes i am an investor in the bungalo part of the build.my email address is randykraus40@hotmail.com

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

I am a Hermosa Highlands investor and taking action. Anyone else concerned about their Hermosa Highlands purchase and want to discuss, please email me at ConcernedAboutHermosaHighland@gmail.com

ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands said...

Make that ConcernedAboutHermosaHighlands@gmail.com

Brad said...

Contact me. I have been scammed by this idiot also.
E-mail firthbrad@g-mail.com

Lets get our money back or at least put a lein on the property

mardoudan said...

I met Mark Ott recently through an add he had listed on CR Craigslist. I didn't know who he was except for the fact that he was closing down his office in San Jose and was selling all of the office furniture, computers, phone systems, etc. Said that the bad economy had killed his business. Well, I have to say that after I spent an hour with him I realized that I was getting the run around. What he had advertised for sale and the prices that he was asking more than doubled when I got to his office. Basically everything he said and advertised was a bait and switch. I'm glad I didn't do any business with this guy. Out of curiosity I decided to Google his name and found this blog and what other people have experienced. I'm an expat living in CR. I can tell you that many construction projects here have halted due to the economy and problems with permitting. CR is cracking down on environmental issues, water shortages, etc. And these are real problems. I have also heard about many scams in the Real Estate business here in CR. "Buyer Beware". The prices here are out of control, food, building materials, and property is ridiculous. I lived first class for less money in New Jersey. Somehow the monopolies here have really taken advantage of what was a good thing. CR was at a time a good investment, now it is inflated beyond belief. It's a beautiful country that is fueled by greed. If you do come to CR try to do business with the Tico nationals and stay away from the greedy gringo developers.

Lee said...

I use to work for Mark as a salesman. He had me on salary plus commission. I worked for a few months and had a couple of deals but never connected the commission. I got fired as soon as Mark figured that I researched his background and new about his shady past. This guy is a real piece of work. He had pre-sold about 80% of his condos but never broke ground. We know that you can start building when 50% of the condos have been sold. For those who are wondering, yes he is still in San Jose. I spotted him at the Del Rey Casino just the other night. As far as investors getting their money back, it's not going to happen. The 40 million he raised is long ago spent by his lavish lifestyle. My advise to anyone who want to invest in Costa Rica Property, do not, I repeat Do Not buy pre-built. Make sure it is compleated and titled.