SAN DIEGO - Dozens of San Diegans told 10News they lost thousands of dollars investing in an elaborate resort in Mexico.
The resort known as "The Residences" is located 30 minutes south of Tijuana. Dozens of San Diegans were recruited by American companies like Stewart Title of California, First American Fund Control and Coastal Design & Development Group, to invest in the development in 2005.
Luis and Laurentia Armenta were some of the original investors. They spent $535,000 on a condo.
"[It] was for pleasure and, at the same time, investment also," said Laurentia Armenta.
Luis Armenta said they invested all of their life savings, but now it is all gone.
The Residences was supposed to be completed by 2007, but construction stopped, and the Armentas said it hasn't been touched since. The couple hired an attorney to file a lawsuit on their behalf, and 47 others have joined that lawsuit. Together, the 49 plaintiffs invested $8 million in The Residences.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court one year ago, is asking for the money back and damages. The Armentas said they should have been making a profit off the condo the past few years. Instead, they said they are struggling to pay their mortgage and growing medical bills.
"I have very high stress because of this problem," said Luis Armenta.
Dolores Contreras, attorney for the developers Coastal Design & Development Group, said, "CDDG is like everyone else; they are victims of the economic crisis."
Contreras said The Residences has not been abandoned, and she added, "Funding is on the way, and we hope the project will be completed this year."
Attorney Nick Lewis, who is representing the plaintiffs, said he doesn't believe that.
"It doesn't mean anything to our clients because they don't have anything," said Lewis.
JAN. 16, 2013 UPDATE: Contreras emailed 10News several updated pictures of The Residences. Contreras said the photos show the resort at about 80 percent completion.
Contreras also issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"To prove fraud, Plaintiffs must prove that my clients never intended to build this property. In looking at the pictures and the project itself, it is evident that millions of dollars have been poured into this project…Plaintiffs' money is in the project and is still an asset that they have ... Moreover, unlike many developers who have ran away from their obligations or simply filed for bankruptcy, our clients are available, have continuously stayed in touch with all buyers and are diligently working on completing this project which they hope to get back up and running this year."
Lawyers for the plaintiffs agree work has been done, but added it does not excuse the fact that their clients haven't been able to use or profit from The Residences when they were promised completion five years ago.