Fraudulent land deals uncovered at Ministry of Natural Resources

An investigation is ongoing at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), through the Lands and Surveys Department. Police were at the department today and at least one person has since been detained for questioning in relationship to fraud cases involving land titles that were recently discovered. According to a Government issued press release, the preliminary investigation suggests that there is a systematic effort being orchestrated by persons of both foreign and local nationalities to obtain property by fraudulent means. The perpetrators use fraudulent international passport and other forms of identification to usurp the identity of real land owners to obtain property and subsequently proceed to fraudulently transfer land titles to prospective buyers by forging signatures of Ministry of Natural Resources officials in an effort to make the documents appear legitimate as though they were issued from the Lands and Surveys Department. It appears that the con artists are targeting properties owned by absentee landowners who reside abroad.  Officials caught on to the scheme as a result of the new land management system that was designed to be more rigorous, specifically verifying the authenticity of applicants, especially those not applying in person or with foreign passports. As a result, the Lands and Surveys Department is uncovering several documents that purport competing interest for the same parcel of land. In some cases, the documents refer to land that do not even exist. While there are legitimate real estate companies that sell land over the internet, Government is warning the general public to beware of internet websites that purports to sell land in Belize and to ensure that buyers execute the necessary due diligence during this process.

About the Author