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Ticos Say Gringo Took Their Money and Ran

March 7, 2008

The date was Feb. 15-16. The place was to be the Aurola Holiday Inn in San José. The event was to be a real estate expo and conference.

The problem, though, according to the would-be participants, was the man they gave their money to never produced the conference and seems to have disappeared.

“He took our money for the event but never organized it,” said Jan Kozak, marketing manager of the Hacienda El Dorado condos in Santa Ana. “If there were 10 of us, that would add up to … $16,000. Normally, expos get some 50 exhibitors in this country, so just think of the implications this could have for 50 developers.”

At least a handful of businesses say they gave money for the event to U.S. citizen Calvin A. Robinson Jr., who said he represented Suncoast Investors Realty LLC.

That company was dissolved in 2007 by the state of Florida for failure to file its annual report, according to the Florida Division of Corporations.

Kozak said he gave Robinson $1,690. María Brenes, of the Costa Rica Real Estate and Tourism Guide, said her organization gave him $3,500. And Víctor Hugo Fernández, editor of the Costa Rica Realty Guide, said he gave Robinson free ads worth $1,800.

“I hope our clients didn’t really pay much attention to the ad we ran for him in our November-January edition,” Fernández said. “It’s ironic because things have always worked the other way. The conmen are usually Latinos getting the Americans, but this time the Gringo got us.”

None of the alleged victims filed a police report. Kozak said he wanted to find out if there were more companies who had dealings with Robinson so he could try to organize a class-action lawsuit.

“It’s not worth fighting over $2,000,” he said. “I would be more than willing to start a complaint if I find out three or four other developers were scammed.”

Judicial Investigation Police chief fraud investigator José Maleaño said, if true, the allegations against Robinson constitute fraud.

On his Web site, http://crusexpo.com/at_a_glance.html, Robinson claims San José lawyer Jorge Ramos represents him. Ramos, however, told The Tico Times he does not officially represent Robinson. Ramos said Robinson used his name on the Web site without his knowledge or permission.

Robinson has not returned multiple phone calls from The Tico Times or his would-be patrons here during the past several weeks.

Suncoast Investors Realty documents from the Florida Division of Corporations show Robinson frequently changed addresses in that state – Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Sarasota and Fort Myers – within the space of three years.

 

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