Rolled for $1 Million, Developer Says

      MANHATTAN (CN) - A financier who promised to introduce a Colombian resort developer to bankers in the Middle East stole $1 million and spent it on fast cars, Florida real estate and a "prolific shopping spree," the developer claims in court.
     A La Orilla del Mar sued the Wall Street Investing Group Corp. and Doris Henriette Yembe Pereira, in New York County Supreme Court.
     Orilla del Mar ("By the Seashore") claims it was seeking financing for a planned resort in Cartagena, Colombia in 2013, when it was introduced to Doris Henriette Yembe Pereira, a Canadian national, and her Wall Street Investing Group Corporation.
     The developer says that over several days of meetings in New York, Pereira assured it she had access to capital from the Middle East, and that for an upfront fee of $1,060,000, she could secure as much as $113 million for the project.
     Pereira's pitch included treating the Colombians to "luxuries such as private cars and a closing lunch at one of Manhattan's best restaurants," and with the loan agreement in hand, the developer was satisfied it would receive the first installment of financing in a little over a month's time, according to the complaint.
     "But with ODM's money in hand, Pereira repeatedly pushed back the closing date in the months that followed, employing a wide variety of excuses," the plaintiff says.
     Finally, A La Orilla del Mar issued Pereira an ultimatum, saying it wanted a final, certain closing date for the financing or for the loan agreement to be canceled and its surety bond returned.
     Even then, however, "Pereira continued to offer excuses through the first two weeks of December, before disappearing with ODM's money in hand," the plaintiff says.
     "ODM recently discovered that it has been victimized by what is known as an 'advance fee' fraud," the complaint states. "Such frauds are designed to induce an up-front payment sent to the fraudsters in return for the promise of an investment, loan or reward.
     "The fake investor agrees to invest or loan money with the requirement that a 'surety bond' or insurance policy is obtained in advance to secure the funds and protect the lender. The entire goal of the fraud is to induce this up-front payment, and the fraudster subsequently absconds with the funds without the promised investment, loan or reward ever materializing. What happened here fits this description to a tee."
     Orilla del Mar claims it recently acquired information confirming that Wall Street Investing Group was "a complete sham operation."
     "For instance," the plaintiff says, "metadata in the underlying documents shows that they are comprised of cut-and-pasted sections taken from various 'financing' documents that are available online, and that WSIG's logo was superimposed on those documents. It also now appears certain that the various Middle Eastern entities that supposedly were involved were entirely phony.
     "This makes it no surprise that a former WSIG employee has confirmed that she never met nor had any contact with the Middle Eastern entities with which Pereira supposedly had a relationship. She also never saw any documents concerning ODM's promised surety bond," the plaintiff continues, adding that it appears that "multiple of WSIG's employees also appear to have criminal backgrounds, leading to the reasonable conclusion that WSIG's core personnel were drawn from a pool of experienced advance fee scammers."
     Orilla del Mar claims it has discovered that Pereira began spending vast sums of money within days of its wiring her the $1 million fee. These expenditures include the purchase of a new Porsche just a week after the wire transfer, the acquisition of a co-op apartment, and a lavish shopping spree taken by Pereira and her sister, with the sister at one point posting a picture on Facebook showing her fanning out $100 bills."
     Most recently, the plaintiff says, "Pereira and her sister appear to have opened a salon in Montreal."
     A La Orilla del Mar seeks actual and punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, conversion, and unjust enrichment.
     It is represented by Jonathan Shepard of Pryor Cashman in New York City.