Jamie was a loan processor at the time, who eventually became a licensed mortgage broker. Her husband, Joe, is an electrician who had experience investing in real estate. They knew what they were doing, but as Jamie says, they were so impressed with the Cay Clubs Resorts promises and presentation and the professionalism of their sales reps, that they had few reservations about “drinking the Cay Clubs Cool-Aid.”
As Paul Harvey would say — here is the rest of the story.
We now had a $15,000 Reservation Agreement for a Membership in the Las Vegas Cay Club. We did not know what unit we were purchasing, what the sales price was, how big the unit was, or what the view was like, but according to Ricky Stokes we had secured our spot with another great investment.
On September 20, 2005 we wrote another $5,000 check payable to Clearwater Cay Club to reserve Unit #611. Prior to this time, we had received appraisals showing that our unit in Clearwater was worth OVER $150,000 more than what we had purchased it for. When Colin Brechbill gave us the chance to purchase another unit at the same price “per square foot” as our first unit, we jumped on it.
On October 21, 2005, we wrote another $10,000 check for the remainder of the deposit for unit #611 in Clearwater. After a few weeks, we began to realize that getting financing for unit #611 was going to be much more difficult. We asked Colin and Ricky if they would flip this $15,000 into another Las Vegas unit. They agreed, so we now had two Las Vegas Units reserved. Jamie was purchasing one unit, and her mother was going to purchase the other. The next step was to sit back and wait for the Las Vegas sales contracts to arrive.
We received the sales contracts about three months later, in December of 2005. One thing that always concerned me about Cay Clubs was the disorganization. We would receive contracts with many blanks, sales prices inflated to include the membership fees, no closing date, and so on. We never saw any addendums with the contracts to justify the inflated sales price, such as an addendum showing what the developer way paying. I always requested these sections to be completed, or I would fill them in myself, but it just seemed very unprofessional and bad business practice for a company to handle their legal documents so carelessly.
Once we had a fully executed sales contract, I started working to secure the financing for our unit in Las Vegas. I had contacted Colin Brechbill for his suggestions for who to use for a lender. He sent me an email with contact information for Jose Ramirez at Trans Atlantic. I called Jose Ramirez several times and never received return call, so I tried to obtain financing on my own through other lenders.
By May 23, 2006, I was still unable to locate a lender willing to finance the investment, so I emailed Colin again to see if he had any suggestions. He recommended Ross Pickard at Chase. I quickly made contact with Ross and sent him my loan application and the documents he requested. The appraisal had already been done by The Appraisal Team. My sales price was $296,022 (which included $7500.00 membership fee and $8,622 of seller’s concessions). The appraisal dated March 20, 2006 showed a value of $356,000 – almost $60,000 in instant equity, which represented an approximate 20-percent return, just as Ricky and Colin told us!
After working on this loan for six months, it was finally ready to close. We purchased our Las Vegas Cay Club Unit on July 13, 2006. The title company, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company was located in Las Vegas, so we did a mail away. I did not have a closer and had to go to my bank to get my loan documents notarized. We put 5 percent down and paid some closing costs on this property which totaled approx. $18,000 out of pocket.
We opted to have half of our leaseback checks in 2006 and receive the other half of the leaseback money in 2007, so approximately 60 days after closing, we received a check from CC704, LLC for the amount of $20,992.50 — half of our leaseback money.
At this time, we had no concerns about our Cay Club investments, as they both appraised for much higher than what we had paid for them, and we had enough money in the bank to make the payments over the next two years while the developer converted the properties into five-star resorts.
We kept in contact on a regular basis with Ricky Stokes and Colin Brechbill to stay on top of the status of what was going on with Clearwater and Las Vegas. Again, our strategy the entire time was to hold the property for a minimum of one year and one day or a maximum of 24 months. On May 16, 2006, I contacted Colin to let him know that I was interested in selling my unit. This was his response:
What was your original price and contracted price, and how much do you have left on your leaseback? The demolition on the strip mall begins end of next month, so this will create a tremendous buzz around the property, so you will be in an excellent position… of course the longer you can hold, the more capital return you will realize.
As always, Colin encouraged me to stay in the property longer, because the developers were beginning to build the amenities, and this would make the property appreciate even more.
On July 5, 2006 I submitted my first request for our $35,000 “refundable” reservation deposit. Ricky and Colin talked to us and convinced us that we would be giving up a great opportunity if we pulled out of this deal now. So a few more months went by, and we still did not feel comfortable with the project. Nothing was signed, no unit number reserved, and the price point seemed very high. So in October 2006, after requesting our money back again, I received an email from Colin stating: “I can help refund this but I need to put a replacement buyer in your position.”
On November 1, 2006, I was requested to fill out a cancellation form, which I did and sent back right away. A week later, Colin stated that there had to be another buyer that would come in with $35,000 before they could release my money. He tried to put us at ease by telling us that this was such a great deal that if another buyer didn’t show up Colin would personally take our place. A month later, we were still waiting to see if we would even be refunded our “refundable” deposit. Only after I threatened to get my attorney involved did I begin to see some action. Finally in January 2007, we received our $35,000 refundable deposit. Looking back, it was a big blessing that we requested this money when we did, as there are many owners who will never receive their refunds.
When we visited the property in September 2006, we did see some progress (the strip mall was being demolished), but progress was nowhere near what we had been led to believe. Again, I expressed my concerns and urgency to Colin to sell our Clearwater unit. This was his email response:
I may be able to move all your Clearwater Units and any family members you have in. The REIT we have been talking about is here and ready to take the units. I can place a certain amount into the plan for them to take down, this would be about $100 sq. ft. increase from what you paid. Let me know ASAP if and who you want in. I will need unit numbers and price they were in at.
Over the next six months, we waited patiently for the REIT to come in, buy our units, and for us to realize a profit of $100 per square foot (which in our case translated to: 1,140 sq. ft x $100 per sq. ft = $114,000). With that kind of profit hanging in the balance, I was willing to hang in there and keep paying over $4,000 per month even after my leaseback money had run out.
On November 16, 2006, I contacted Barbara Mills, a sales associate for Waterfront Resort Realty, to see what they could do to sell our unit. She kept brining up the fact that our leaseback was not up until May 2007 and that we should wait until then to sell the condo. She emailed me a breakdown of what the going price was ($425.00 per sq. ft., which was less than what Colin told us), an 8.5 percent broker fee, closing costs, etc. We then started to get concerned that the value was not what we thought it was.
In December 2006, we went over to the “office” — a doublewide trailer that Ricky Stokes and Colin Brechbill worked out – of and sat down with them face to face to express our concerns.
I had prepared a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to show them that we were almost out of money; if we kept the property until the leaseback expired, we would have to pay an additional $24,409 out of pocket. I also brought the email that Barbara Mills had sent to me showing the going price per square foot to see what they had to say about it.
Colin and Ricky danced around every question and again made us drink more of their Cay Club Cool-Aid. Colin was still trying to sell us on another project out in Crested Butte, Colorado, and Ricky (the wise CPA that he is) kept throwing things back in our face, like did you write off all of the furniture package. He said that all you had to do was deed your property into a corporation, and it is a one time write-off, called a 1079. Luckily, we did NOT take his advice and sought the advice of our current CPA instead.
January 3, 2007, we received an email from Colin confirming that the REIT has been consummated and they would spend $250,000,000 over the next four years to purchase condos from Cay Club investors.
On January 16, 2007, Colin emailed me the following:
The REIT has been consummated at has made the initial offer of $1 Billion over the next 4 years, with the initial $250 Million to begin closing in March. The unit selection has not been released at this time as we are all eagerly awaiting this information. Once I receive, I will be sure to update you ASAP, so we can begin your exit of the Clearwater Cay Club.
The news started to get a little better, as we started to think that we did not need to make a big profit. Our main concern was to get out of this property. What we were being told and what we were seeing were not adding up.
In January 2007, we were suppose to receive a $20,992.50 check for the remainder of the Las Vegas leaseback from Cay Clubs, but only received $10,496.25. This came as a shock, because nobody had ever given us a heads up that we wouldn’t be receiving the full amount. It was like a big roller coaster with Cay Clubs, you never knew what to expect; you could only hope and pray for the best as we had close to $1 million on the line in our Cay Club properties.
March 2007 came and went with no sign of the REIT buying us out of our unit as Colin had promised us. We were now starting to realize that we had been drinking too much Cay Club Cool-Aid and that the blinders needed to come off. We had trusted everything that Colin and Ricky had told us. They were our point of contact, and they were in direct communication with Dave Clark, Barry Graham, and all of the other principals of the company. So, how were we to believe anything else?
By April 2007, Cay Clubs was in talks with Key Hospitality for them to acquire all of the equity of privately-held Cay Clubs. This seemed like a great thing for both us and Cay Clubs. The completion of the merger was not expected until the third quarter of 2007. We were forced to wait it out, as the property had not sold yet.
In June 2007, we decided to list our Clearwater property with an agent at Prudential Tropical Realty, as we had little to no faith in Colin Brechbill or Ricky Stokes at this time. She was very familiar with Cay Clubs, and had been around the complex since the time when the condos were apartments. We listed the property as low as we could to just break even. We never received one offer.
September 24, 2007, I received my last email from Colin:
I am in meetings still. It does not look well for Cay Clubs, we are doing all we can to get information but between us looks like they may be closing the doors soon. The lending industry is so tight they can not move any loans to close and this is stifling all payouts and construction.
I know Joe stopped by last week, but we have been doing everything we can to survive the market and save Cay Clubs. I wish there was more I could provide but this is literally all that I know. In my opinion (and only my opinion) I am letting my units go into foreclosure as I can not keep up the payments without any income coming in on these. We have not collected a payment from Cay Clubs since almost Nov. of last year floating this entire organization, they have literally bankrupted me. The SAC is still a 60% shot (this is the Public offering) but this is not until mid October which is just to far for us to continue hanging on.
We now knew that we were in BIG trouble. We contacted an attorney who was representing other Clearwater Cay Club owners and are currently involved in a lawsuit. We are now aware that there was a massive amount of fraud perpetrated in both the Clearwater and Las Vegas properties by Dave Clark and partners. During this time, we continued to pay on our “dead horse,” due strictly to the fact that we always had perfect credit.
In February 2008, after doing the research and seeing the fraud for ourselves in black and white, we made the difficult, life-changing decision to quit paying on our units. We now feel like we are on the right track and fighting back for what has been done to us. I hope that many other owners will come forward as we have to expose those who were behind this fraudulent scheme and bring them to justice.
I would like to thank both Jamie and Joe for having the courage to share their story and warn other prospective investors about Cay Clubs Resorts and similar operations across the country that are doing their utmost to scam honest people out of the hard-earned cash. Hopefully, we can team up with other investors to provide the honest investors with some financial relief and make Part 3 of this story a little less painful.