Panic is spreading amongst prospective purchasers of homes in the Partaloa and Cantoria area after a real estate agent is understood to have vanished with their deposits.
Purchasers have been filling local forums with urgent questions after Annika van der Pluijm, a 37 year old Dutch national who ran Inmobiliaria Partaloa SL, stopped answering her phones.
Her website has been disconnected and says only that “the business is under investigation by the Guardia Civil”.
Local solicitor Domingo Serrano, whose office has been established for over a decade, together with his partner Francisco Martinez was named on Annika’s website under Contact us as “Solictors”.
Sr Serrano said that he was working with the Guardia Civil on behalf of several of Annika’s clients. He added that he had also presented a personal denuncia against Annika due to her misrepresentation of their professional connection, and asked anyone involved in dealings with Annika speak to the Guardia Civil.
One person identifying himself online as Don Herron claimed to have given Ana €74,500 as a deposit on a home in El Fas.
Mr Herron writes: “We were due to sign next week, but obviously with what’s going on here we think the worst. [..] We have parted with €74,500 and it’s all we have in life”.
Another poster said she had been trying to retrieve a €5,000 deposit after she discovered the home she wanted had been built without permits.
It has been claimed that Annika, whose husband is understood to be a dog breeder, has vanished from her home in the valley along with her pets and two children.
The Guardia Civil refused to comment but unofficially said a number of complaints against a foreign national having broken civil contracts for property purchases had been received.
Maura Hillen from property rights organisation AUAN said that she had never personally dealt with Annika, but that prospective purchasers had contacted her to see if homes they were planning to buy via Annika were legal.
She said: “Sadly we had to advise some prospective purchasers that several homes in the El Faz area were not legally built. Estate agents are not well regulated in this area, and it is unfortunate that some people have again fallen prey to these allegedly shady practises. I understand this woman had no physical offices but only a website to attract clients.”
This article is a modified version of one that appeared in last weeks issue of Costa Almería news. There is a further update in this weeks issue.
Purchasers of property in Spain are reminded to always deposit reservation monies into secured bank accounts and not give the money directly to their agent.
A facebook page called “Catch these scammers” has been setup.
Once again a warning to check the estate agent who you are dealing with. Don’t trust just anyone, but investigate who he/she is, what he/she has done before, experiences, study, is he/she a member of an association, etc.
Watch this and learn: