A man accused of running a real estate scam in both Springfield and Costa Rica has been arrested in Costa Rica and returned to the United States, after more than 20 years on the run for a separate case, according to the US Department of Justice. Justice in a news. out on Wednesday.
The defendant, former San Diego resident Robin James McPherson, had been labeled an international fugitive since 2000 for a separate fraud and tax evasion case. More recently, he was wanted for suspected wire fraud and money laundering by the DOJ.
The FBI first investigated McPherson in 2019, after multiple people said they were victims of a real estate scam in Springfield and Costa Rica, according to the criminal complaint. McPherson allegedly used marketing techniques such as cold calling, promotional websites and Facebook ads to find potential investors in an alleged Costa Rican real estate development opportunity called Carara Parque Resort Corporation, the DOJ said.
After the scam victims expressed interest in the fraudulent investment opportunity, McPherson allegedly made business calls from Costa Rica to explain the scheme.
Over the next few months, McPherson would ask the victims to wire investment funds to a bank account in Oregon, before transferring the money to Costa Rica, according to the DOJ. About $1.2 million was deposited into the Oregon bank account between December 2015 and August 2019.
“McPherson used many different excuses to explain to his investors why no resort villas were built,” the statement said. “McPherson did not disclose to the investors that their contracts had not been honored and that no villas were slated for construction. McPherson used the investors’ funds to pay for various personal expenses, including his own mortgage.
McPherson was convicted in 2000 of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and tax evasion with two co-conspirators, and he fled the country before his conviction, the DOJ said.
Now that McPherson has been arrested, he faces charges via a criminal complaint for wire fraud and money laundering in the District of Oregon. He appeared in federal court this week in Houston, en route to the Southern District of California where he will soon be sentenced for the two-decade-old tax crimes.