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