Tag Archive | "Floridalva Zambrano"

Ecuador Scams


Ecuador scams are like scams anywhere in the world… best avoided.

There are enough scams in the world that we have no control over like… Madoff…  like Federal spending… like Social Security… like underfunded pensions.

Yet we can avoid scams  that we would otherwise bring on ourselves.

Decades ago we learned that there are many scams in investment markets which is why we have always focused on working with large, experienced global firms like Jyske Bank.

Here are delegates chatting in the courtyard of Meson de las Flores with Peter Laub of Jyske Global Asset Management during an IBEZ Ecuador course.

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Yet scams go way beyond the investing community and they are everywhere… including Ecuador.

When one moves to a new place… it is hard to know all the ropes. This is a bit frightening and often leads new arrivals or investors to depend more on other expats.

This can be a huge error… because Ecuador scams… or scams anywhere are promoted as often by other expats as they are by local residents.  

People are not more honest just because they come from the same country you do.

I learned this the hard way when I moved to Hong Kong almost 41 years ago.

I had a really wonderful apartment in the mid levels of Hong Kong on Bowen Road.  “Bowen Do Ng Ho” (Bowen Road #5 – This is the last of my Cantonese!)  We had an extra bedroom we rented to a very nice American woman. She met a guy who became her boyfriend… a redheaded freckled guy I recall. He was an architect… so he said… with a San Francisco firm arriving in Hong Kong to build a skyscraper.  He was a very pleasant fellow… a “jolly chap” my British friends used to say.

Somehow, for the financing, the woman, who rented our apartment, became involved. To make a long story short… the guy (and the financing) disappeared.  Huge bills owing were strewn around town.  The woman, who rented our apartment, was devastated and left on the hook.  We had all been fooled until days after this con artist fled.  We had all felt more comfortable since we were dealing with what we thought was a “known”…someone from our own culture.

So my ears perked up when a reader wrote to me after our latest Ecuador Visa Update.

“Gary, When I read your newsletter today, I was hoping you would say something about the cost of a visa.  Unfortunately, there are people who are promising newcomers a resident’s visa for $7000.  I’ve never heard of anyone paying more than $2000 for a resident’s visa, no matter which lawyer they used.

The reader went on to say that one  couple discovered this scam and tried to back out of the contract.  This elderly couple was threatened by a lawsuit.

I do not have all the facts so cannot be sure if this is a pure scam… just really unfair pricing or if more than just a visa was offered, but $7,000 seemed awfully high if all that was provided was just a resident visa.  I immediately wrote to the three attorneys who advise us in Ecuador to check on the price.

Although we were totally unaware of any of this, it did remind us that all of us should always take care and do our research when we move or visit other countries.  This is what I wrote to the 3 attorneys that we use:

“I would like to inform readers about what is a reasonable amount they should expect to pay for a resident visa.  Could you provide this?  Regards, Gary”

The first reply came from our attorney, Dr. Andres Cordova. He wrote:  Dear Gary:  If this story is true then it’s terrible. Poor people. They can contact me immediately and I will take care of them.  I will review their case for free.  It may be possible that these possible scammers are doing things under the
table, cutting corners. This would be bad, but instilling fear on clients is beyond reproachable.

Lawyers would normally charge between $800 and $1.000 for a visa, including for a family. In some cases where there is an added complication the cost may be a little bit higher.

Some bigger law firms may charge between $2,000 and $4,000 for a visa but normally when obtained of behalf of major investors, corporate CEOs, etc.  I believe $800 to $1.500 is reasonable. We charge $800 to $1.000.  Regarding expenses, they are of about $350 per visa plus some $100 in general, for the whole family.  Best regards, Andres.

This is very kind of Andres to offer free legal assistance. He has helped so many of our readers in the past. See ways he has helped readers here.

Another excellent and reliable attorney, Roberto Moreno, wrote:   Gary,  Yes, $7000 is absolutely out of range. Depending on the visa we charge from US$900 to US$1200.  Also, it is important to inform the readers that some lawyers will just obtain visas with few requirements, especially in Guayaquil.  The risk is that the visa could be removed later on. We prefer now to obtained all the visas for our clients at the immigration office in Quito.

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Gary Scott and immigration attorney, Roberto Moreno, at Meson.

Learn more about Roberto and his firm here.

The third attorney, Floridalva Zambrano wrote:

Hi Gary, This is a terrible thing!!  Your reader is correct,  the cost of obtaining a resident  visa, including attorney fees,  fluctuates between $1,200 and $2,000, being this last one a very high one.  We usually charge  about $1,300.  Checking with other attorneys  from Quito this is the the standard cost.  Hope this helps!!

Here is one of our Ecuador real estate tours meeting with our attorney, Floridalva Zambrano.

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Flori is one of the few attorneys with such experience that when she conveys a property, a US title insurance company will provide US title insurance.

Learn about Flori’s law firm here.

There you have it… three very reliable Ecuador law firms charge about $1,200 for a resident visa.  Whether you feel someone charging much more is a scam or not is up to you… but when you move to Ecuador or anywhere that is new… you are more vulnerable so watch out for price gouging and scams.

Gary

One benefit of an Ecuador Living subscription is that we do not take commissions or kickbacks on real estate, legal work, hotel or tour reservations… or anything.  There are no hidden agendas.   We even donated our hotel to a foundation to help promote employment in Ecuador so we do not even make a penny from the income at Meson de las Flores.    Our goal is to help our readers enjoy safe, easy, profitable, low cost journeys to Ecuador.  Learn more about our Ecuador Living Service here.

The greatest asset of all is the ability to earn wherever you live, which brings everlasting wealth.

This is why we offer our course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business.

A clear mind and healthy body are also a vital assets… plus a second language is a powerful diversification tool.

This is why I am willing to pay you $300 to attend either our Ecuador Super Thinking plus Spanish seminar in September or our North Carolina International Business & Investing seminar in October.  Sign up for either seminar and I will email you our Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course (offered at $299) free plus I’ll knock an extra dollar off your seminar fee…. to round up the $300 savings.

Here are comments from a reader about the way we help:  Merri, I am sitting here with a smile on my face.  I am always amazed at the turn around that I get from my emails to you.  I know you are busy with all of the projects that you and Gary address on a daily basis and appreciate very much you making time for mine.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Learn more about global investing, how to have an international business and diversification in Ecuador at the seminar.

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina with our webmaster  David Cross & Thomas Fischer of JGAM

October 16-18 Ecuador Southern coastal tour (early sign up before Sept. 1, $499 per person).

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Oct. 25-26 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador Seminar

Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador seminar or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799

Ecuador & Social Security


There are some Ecuador reporting rules & global Social Security wrinkles you should know.

There are some great reports being sent to Ecuador Living subscribers after our trip last week to Cotacachi.

For example one report tells of this organic tomato farm for sale that is producing $25,000 a year income.

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Another looks at 15 new condos like this being built on a small river in Cotacachi.

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Yet another reviews our trek on this fantastic lake.

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One report I already sent to Ecuador Living subscribers last week provides a warning (and solution) about a new Ecuador financial reporting regulation and a Social Security wrinkle for any American who plans to live abroad.  An excerpt from that report explains why this is important information to know.

I am working with tax attorneys in Ecuador and the US because there is a new Ecuador wealth reporting law that requires residents or those staying in Ecuador over 183 days a year to report all wealth and assets (everywhere in the world) once a year.

This new financial reporting law requires all Ecuadorian residents with assets above $200,000, ($400,000 as a couple) to report their wealth.

This report requires an itemized list and valuation of financial accounts and personal property owned anywhere in the world every year six months after the end of the year.

Even those who do not have this wealth can be asked to submit a report showing what wealth they do have and they can be fined if this report not presented.

Here is what our Ecuador tax attorney, Floridalva Zambrano, has replied:

The whole issue about “Declaración Patrimonial” has been very confusing as the rules have been changed several times in a short period of time.  The government has mentioned several times that this “Declaración Patrimonial” does not have any tax purposes, that it is only a way of checking the increase in the value of your patrimony from year to year and that it was legally obtained.

Right now this information is available through the municipalities, registries, SRI itself,  bank system, etc, but it is not as useful as it would be if they have it concentrated. Kind regards,  Flori”

For many US residents who plan to move to Ecuador avoiding this report will just add a bit more work to existing tax and asset protection planning.

First of all, one should keep their wealth as confidential as they legally can.

Our US tax attorney Joe Cox wrote:

I am not at all comfortable with reporting to the government of Ecuador or anyone ALL of one’s worldwide holdings.  Even if it is a generic reporting or an overview.  Anyone could then find out what you have and what you are worth. We have no assurance that there are security walls in the tax departments.

There are ways to avoid this report but for Americans planning to live anywhere abroad there is  another concern beyond this Ecuador reporting.   This concern is a US Social Security regulation.

If you are collecting Social Security and live abroad you must report overseas income correctly to Social Security or you can be penalized by a fine or imprisonment.

Plus Social Security recipients can lose Social Security benefits if they work or even own a business (even if they do not work in the business).

The same steps one would take to legally to reduce one’s financial profile (for Ecuador reporting purposes) are also likely to resolve the Social Security concerns at the same time.

If you are living in the US and planning to live in Ecuador prepare in advance.

You can read this entire report as an Ecuador Living subscriber.

Or you can contact our tax attorney Joe Cox.

We expect a lot of inquiries on this and I have asked Joe if he would give our readers a no charge consultation.  Joe has set up a system so his personal assistant can take calls calls and e-mails and schedule a first time no obligation, no fee conference call on the questions about this.

See Joe’s Bio here.

Joe Cox’s email is jcox@coxnici.com

Please copy his personal assistant abarza@coxnici.com

Until next message, good living in Ecuador or wherever!

Gary

Join me and Thomas Fischer from Jyske Global Asset Management in North Carolina to learn more about economic trends and new tax and bamnking regulations.

David Cross our webmaster will also speak to help delegates learn how to have a global internet business.

International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

We’ll have lunch at the farm and enjoy the cool summer mountains. Here’s a shot of our front yard.

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Thomas Fisher speaking to our delegates at the farm.

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Delegates enjoying a private conversation with Thomas Fischer during a coffee break at the farm.