Written and Revised by Sara Chaca, Attorney – Abogada
December 12th, 2019
Unfortunately, it happens..Having the absolute best of intentions, an unsuspecting foreigner while living in (or even just while visiting) our otherwise inviting and welcoming country of Ecuador, trusts in the wrong person (whether that person is/was an Ecuadorian Citizen or a fellow Ecuador Expat) and in effect loses their shirt on an arrangement, deal, promise or signed/sealed agreement (often even fully notarized contract at that). In such a nefarious occurrence or situation, ‘who-what-where-when-why-how and if’ is one to do, so as to best avenge their loss after having been in effect taken in a country that is (or is at least in this way) foreign to them, so as to not get stuck (or unstuck) from being “up a river without a paddle” (mind the pun..)? This article will examine the options that any Expat in Ecuador has if/when faced with such a quandary, so as to elucidate the ways as well as pros and cons of the most common (and legal) ways of prosecuting such an act/action done or threatened to be done by the other party against a foreigner’s interests in Ecuador.
In the case of any attempted or already known to have occurred fraud in Ecuador, the first strategy I generally suggest to my Expat clients is for us to prepare and send via courier a tracked package containing a “Demand Letter”, addressed to the current/last known physical location of the presumed guilty person and/or any business, company or organization that they claim to own or work for or with, and this document be in Spanish (even if the presumed con artist is a primarily English speaking person/foreigner) – this tactic also adds credence to the Demand Letter if it’s issued on the official stationery of a licensed Ecuadorian Lawyer and cites those specific areas of the Ecuadorian Legal Code which pertain to the heart of any matter(s) at issue, so that any fraudster receiving it knows that their Expat prey is very serious about recovering their stolen funds or items, which will in turn often cause sleepless nights for the predator so as to cause them to give up the goose (golden or otherwise), in them hoping to avoid the matter going the distance to any Ecuadorian Civil or Criminal Court and/or Ecuadorian Governmental Investigative Authority. If however, the person executing (or whom has already executed) the misappropriation or theft of the foreigner’s monies or things had provided a false address to the Expat, has since moved from that former location or just ignores the Demand Letter’s generally stated 7 day deadline with which to respond, that is the time when it generally pays (and the scorned Expat no longer having any doubt as to the bad intentions of the other party) to formally suing the person (including any business, company or organization) who is clearly responsible for having carried out the apparent thievery – any such lawsuit for fraud in Ecuador must be well drafted though and not prepared with false or uncertain statements that can’t be proven with evidence and/or disproven due to a specific lacking of evidence or other available counter-evidence to the contrary. Finally, whether suing the proverbial “big bad wolf” or not, it’s also possible (in any event) to file a complaint with the Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office, known as “The Ecuadorian Fiscalía” (or in Spanish as “La Fiscalía General del Estado Ecuador”), who can then go after the criminal with the purpose of proving and shining the light upon what happened (and if possible still recover) any hidden monies as well as prosecuting the person criminally to the fullest extent of Ecuadorian law.
As per the above discussion relative to an Expat’s possible ways of being made whole as to the recovery of their invested funds or stolen assets, it’s very important to remember to never succumb to the emotions of the scenario, which might otherwise prompt an Expat to send or in any forum or venue say, state or write angry, threatening or upsetting things, which can/will likely just exacerbate the situation, cause the other party to do the same or similar against the Expat in return, plus potentially enable the otherwise accused (and often guilty as charged) unscrupulous individual to turn the tables and sue the foreigner for defamation or libel in Ecuador (see my other article as to that matter here: https://cuencahighlife.com/defamation-in-ecuador-ecuadorian-libel-law-oh-my/), and at the very least confound and/or taint whatever case or claims that the Expat otherwise could/would have had at their disposal so as to pursue a legal remedy in Ecuador. Thus, when in doubt here in Ecuador as per what to do as per negating or unwinding the ill attempts or doings of any such bad actor here in Ecuador, always be sure to make your first step be that of a call, email or visit to an Ecuadorian Attorney/Lawyer who knows and understands how best to handle and make right the situation in your favor, as best and as much as possible, naturally based on the circumstances and what can be done to rectify it all.
Sara Chaca (Attorney – Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her Expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is email@example.com and her law office’s fully informative website is www.ecuadorvisas.com for you to visit at any time of day or night – plus, her personal Ecuadorian cell phone number is 099-296-2065 and her Toll Free “800” phone number for US & Canadian callers is 1-(800)-655-1581. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically in closer to 24 minutes). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.