Monday, October 27, 2008

Blind to Recession - Or Just Sand in the Eyes?

Now that the press have blabbed on about it enough, the world is officially in a recession apparently.... Or are we? Not according to Emirates Business Salem Almoosa, Chairman and CEO of Falconcity of Wonders!

Last week (20/10/08) we saw possibly one of the most preposterous pieces of PR ever seen come out of the United Arab Emirates. Statements such as "In my opinion prices will never ever go down" and "I believe there will not be a price correction in the market. Who is saying this? I have not heard of any correction or decrease in prices and I am not seeing it either."

Well, it happens to be the above mentioned business man. Saleem Almoosa has a BSc in economics from the USA, and is well connected to the travel industry, the Dubai chamber of Commerce, and the National Geographic Society.
What is he talking about? Where can we get invested in such a place where money grows on trees, the streets are paved with gold and we can all live happily ever after? Quick, tell us now Mr Almoosa!!

FalconCity, Dubai. Now, I don't know about anyone reading this, but sure as there is sand in the desert, I don't think I would want someone making statements like that at this point in time! One has to ask if Saleem Almoosa has ever been out of the Emirates! I can just imagine the reporter doing the interview either stunned almost into silence, or rolling around the floor laughing!

The justification in the article itself behind Almoosas' comments and statements is unreal, the vagueness of his answers pertaining to completion and even the actual business model is just a joke, stating when asked about the completion timing "I cannot tell you the answer to that. Any large-scale project such as this will of course take time and an exact date is difficult to specify. We make plans but they change every year as there are many factors as there are many determining factors. But we hope that in another five years things will be taking shape."

5 YEARS???!!! and then you HOPE you will have an idea?

Ask yourself, this is a company that has no real idea of timescale, has its' head in the clouds, blames the west for creating a recession they can't see and publicly states this!

Dubai and the Emirates have long been an investment hot spot and some serious money has been made there, but this isn't oil. You cannot expect to triple or more the size of the population, housing, infrastructure, import and so on and expect to make the same profit. The real world doesn't work like that. Even the basics of infrastructure cost money to create and then money to run. It isn't like digging a hole and selling what comes out for a fortune and holding the world to ransom.

The extremely comical article can be read in full at Emirates Business 24/7 To see another interesting comment from earlier in the year, go to - How to see all the Wonders of the World in Just one Day.

Coming Soon, Forums - Are they any use? Can you trust them? Are they just for beating up other companies? The Investment Property Rumour Mill is taking an in depth look at what use the property forums are, which ones are moderated, and is it possible to buy or threaten your way around them?

If you have something you would like us to take a look at, good or bad, post it below.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Hot Homes - Some Scams Dont Know When To Stop.

Well folks, we have sent out all the ferrets and weasels into the investment property robbery world on this one!

This is the low down on how particular individuals can come back time and time again to haunt the public, even using the same company name!

There are references here to several companies, some of which are no longer live on the web, but we have linked to some interesting comment where we can. If anyone has any complaints (Chris Devlin or Martin Devlin) please, do feel free to post. If we are proved wrong we will happily and publicly retract any postings. We are waiting by the laptop. As usual, the Investment Property Rumour Mill takes no responsibility for your opinions on what we write, but we will play fair.

This is the tale of some serial fraudsters that will stop at little to relieve you of your cash under the guise of a property investment. They return after at least 3 failed property companies, an after sales company that has fallen off the face of the earth, a police investigation, an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands and no end of complaints. Yes, at least one of them is back, Chris Devlin.

In the forums and bars it is well known that the Devlin Brothers Chris and Martin used to own Golden Coast Estates then Red Hot Homes, and also set up The Diamond Experience to take care of the after sales. (Basically tie you up with their lawyers, furniture people, money movers and so on, all designed to relieve you of as much cash as possible) Now we see two horrifying and galling prospects. List4Leads and the return of Red Hot Homes for more fraud.

Golden Coast Estates was set up some time ago now by the brothers, along with a partner Brian Nelson, (click the link and you will be taken to a forum posting from his wife about Golden Coast Estates.)

The posting itself appears to be a very frank and honest account of the situation.

So, after Golden Coast Estates ceased to exist, with Brian left to cover the debts, Red Hot Homes appeared, followed in tandem with The Diamond Experience. RHH proceeded to sign deals and collaborations here and there in the race to catch up with the main competition of the time, Macanthony Realty International, even to the extent of staff poaching and all sorts. Chris Devlin was at the front of the operation, driving the sales force, seeing that agents were signed up and generally creating hype. Some agents were mysteriously overpaid by Red Hot Homes, apparently at the time a gesture of goodwill. Little did anyone realise that it was merely a ploy to haul in more leads that they didn't declare sales on, no doubt sent on to being rinsed through a later scam, List4Leads.

From there we saw the cogs begin to grind to a halt, and as they did so alarm bells began to rang. Agents had been asked to invoice Red Hot Homes in the British Virgin Islands of all places, a handy little offshore jurisdiction for the amateur tax evader and scam merchant where little law applies and you can filter out money into seemingly nowhere.

Agents where looking for there money after confirming that clients referred had paid, the responses being that "We are waiting for payment from the developer", or "The charges that we split for the inspection trips exceed the commission we owe you, in fact you owe us money"

Eventually unpaid staff left, still unpaid to find other jobs, apparently RHH still ran from an apartment in Estepona or San Pedro on the Costa del Sol. The deal now though was to have clients send the money directly to Red Hot Homes instead of the developer. This way the money could be neatly stolen with the developer never being paid and all the cash neatly disappearing.

Since then, we have seen the attempted rise of List4Leads, owned by Christopher Devlin. This is a site that apparently will generate leads directly for you so you can sell your property. It is set up from the back of a Point2 franchise (A legitimate MLS type portal designed to give agents the ability to share properties and expand their site.) In this particular case, Devlin is using the domain for the Point2 portal base, and then using for his own site, hoping that no-one will notice. A whole bunch of spelling mistakes and poor formatting which would suggest stolen content, all in a bid to look bigger than it all really is. Payment for this "service" is by credit card that just happens to auto debit every month (how handy!) or, by bank transfer, but you have to pay up front for 3 months minimum. Ask yourself, what happens when the site goes down and they have an auto debit on your card?

The most astonishing thing though is yet to come. is back to scam more people!!!

The site is registered to a Ben Sykes, an SEO specialist in the UK. Ben is likely unaware of the previous activities of the Devlin's being as the domain at the time of writing is in his name. Nice try to deflect the heat this time eh?

As it stands at this moment in time, there are numerous errors on the site itself, even though it appears at the top of google, they have still left some of the pig Latin used by programmers in the pages to bulk the page out for testing.

Whilst browsing through the site and seeing Christopher's name appear, we then discover an endorsement from none other than Channel 4's Location, Location, Location presenter Kirstie Allsopp! (Note on the site they have managed to spell her name wrong, Kirsty Allsop, instead of Kirstie Allsopp. Another clever ploy Mr Devlin!

As for the whereabouts of both Martin Devlin and Chris Devlin, it has been suggested that Martin Devlin was arrested and later bailed on fraud charges. We will state this is unconfirmed here say at present, but are looking to confirm it shortly. As for Christopher Devlin? Well rumour has it from a couple of sources that he was being looked for at this years SIMA industry exhibition in Madrid. According to the forums, a detective Chris Gay is looking into fraud committed by the pair over Red Hot Homes.

Some simple advice.

If you are approached by one of these companies or individuals, beware!

Any investment you make will disappear.

Any service you pay for is unlikely to be provided.

If you are mad enough to work for them or apply for a job, you are unlikely to get paid.

Have you been approached or contacted by these scammers? Post below, we would love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Being Badgered Whilst Just Looking?

During the past 12 months we have seen some significant changes going on in the overseas property business, most notably of course the global stock market dives and changes in lending, but the high flying sales business that is investment property has gradually started to alter the way it works.

Many new web based companies or "portals" have popped up in the past few years, Properazzi, Lead Galaxy, Property Index and the like to name a few. Not companies you may remember as the public, because they don't sell properties (yet) themselves. All they do is aggregate everybody elses listings, (by fair means and sometimes foul by the less reputable) and then when you the public make an enquiry, your details are forwarded to the listing company.

In years gone by, this invariably worked on a commission based model, if "portal A" acquired a lead, it was passed across to the listing company, then if the listing company made a sale, the portal was paid a commission. Sounds fair by all accounts.

The inherent problems with this in a struggling market are that when said listing company or agent makes a sale, if they are short on cash, the last people to get paid are the portals. As a result, the commission based model is rarely seen anymore. The portals are using new ways to make money from their techno wizardry on the internet.

The larger portals that have good presence and rank well in Google and Yahoo and so on have been fortunate to be able to sell advertising space on their sites, meaning that there is the appearance factor for advertisers, and natural traffic generation too. This however is rarely cheap, unlike many of the international investment property companies out there!

Of late though, we are starting to see other lead generation systems emerge, namely and others based on similar models. The basics of Leads and Agents is a qualifying service with all leads having been telephoned and asked questions about their intention to buy.

How does it all work? Well according to the site they are "absolutely unique" in the way they generate leads. It doesn't however say quite how it achieves that, and we'll come back to this part in a moment.

It goes on to very clearly state how the prices start from just £5 per lead and you can bid for up to 72 hours and that it is a good idea to bid over the odds even if you are the top bidder at the time to stop sniper bids and so on.

So how does this affect you? Well there are a few things to take into consideration here. The fact that they don't really explain at all where the leads come from in the first place is one. Fair enough, if they are a survey company, great, bring it on, we can all understand that. The thing is that the site doesn't state that is what they are. this then begs the question of where do they get their leads from?

It states on their site they have a number of marketing campaigns on websites.

Just think about that for a moment. They are advertising on the sites that the agents are already advertising on, calling the leads and then selling them for a fiver?! Believe me, quality advertising space on high profile websites that have sufficient traffic to generate quality leads to the level that is needed would not financially allow you to sell names for £5 a go, or anywhere near.

What about all the general enquiries out there from people that are "just looking" at property. Where you have to leave your name, number and e-mail address to see any detail? I must admit the quality sites out there usually have bullet proof disclaimers and small print to comply with the data protection act, but there are many less scrupulous that will just sell names and numbers on willy nilly for tuppence ago.

The other thing to consider here, whilst they will call you once you sign up as a bidding agent, there is no regulation in place to ensure you are an actual property agent either. You could be an arms dealer, a 419 scammer, or even an unruly investment property agent that just takes deposits and doesn't supply the property.

Just think about it next time you are called about an investment property.........................