AROUND a thousand people have lost deposits of up to €55,000 for homes in Andalucia and Murcia that are unlikely to ever be built.
The El Pais newspaper says that the Cordova-based promoter Grupo 21 marketed between 800 and 1,000 pre-sold apartments on land they never owned.
Some properties were allegedly sold twice- attracting deposits of between €12,000 and €55,000- with estimates that Grupo 21 banked up to €20 million.
Swindled buyers now face a potentially long legal route to get their money back after realising last summer that something had badly gone wrong with their dream purchases.
The unbuilt developments were to be located in thriving coastal areas with beach apartments and permanent residences.
Purchasers were offered homes in Almeria and Aguadulce in Almeria province; Almuñecar in Granada province; and Aguilas in the Murcia region.
El Pais reports that Grupo 21 were doing marketing in the Malaga area but an architect brought in to commission the plans grew suspicious and left the project.
Carmen Garcia, from Almeria, is one of those affected by the scam with over 350 people joining her social media group consisting of victims who had all been hood-winked.
Garcia said that Grupo 21 is the trademark of the company CJDE FAM 2016, SL, owned by a married couple who have rotated in appearing as its administrators.
According to her, the company attended meetings with land owners hosting a variety of potential buyers
Garcia said: “He paid for the reservation without question and, if necessary, above the asking price.”
For example, €300,000 was paid to reserve land for 55 homes in the the Amara development, in the centre of Almeria.
Then Grupo 21 had a year to complete the €4 million deal, which never happened.
The process was never completed but nevertheless marketed its Amara project and elsewhere.
Carmen Garcia said the prices for the proposed Almeria apartments were 10% cheaper than anywhere else in the area.
She got wind of problems in the summer after pre-buying at Easter with Grupo salespeople warning of ‘delays’ and then eventually saying that the development had been ‘cancelled’.
Francisco Javier Ortega Pardo, from the Granada-based firm Lexforma Abogados, is representing 26 people who were left with nothing at the El Mirador de la Atalya urbanisation in Almuñecar.
“In January 2022 they began to market and in May 2023 they said they will not be building,” he said.
Promises of refunds came and went with Ortega Pardo filing a criminal complaint against Grupo 21 for fraud and misappropriation, which is pending admission.
“There were posters of the work on the ground for months, which gave everything more plausibility,” he said.
On construction sites in Almeria, the posters included the names of architects – five of whom were commissioned by Grupo 21 and never got paid.
In Almuñecar, when the situation became public, all signs of Grupo 21 have disappeared.
El Pais has tried to get the promoter’s version of events and responses to the allegations but got no reply from any of its different phone numbers.