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February 28, 2024
Counterfeit cash, drugs allegedly found on accused resort scammer
February 28, 2024

Placencia and San Pedro resorts bilked in $100K+ scheme; Con artist arrested

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2024. 7:14 am CST.

By Horace Palacio: A brazen con man, suspected of defrauding multiple luxury resorts across Belize, is now in police custody. 40-year-old Nicolas Paula, who also goes by the alias Christopher Marchena and is a Costa Rican national, was detained in San Pedro yesterday afternoon.

Marchena faces charges in connection with a large-scale deception at the high-end Itz’ana Resort in Placencia. According to resort staff, he arrived on February 5th and stayed until the 13th, allegedly using three bogus wire transfer confirmations as proof of payment. Upon disappearing a day before checkout, he left behind outstanding bills totaling USD 13,525.55 (or BZD 27,051.10) for his eight-night stay.

This incident mirrors a similar scheme uncovered in San Pedro Town. Bernardo Cabrerra Collazo, Mexican General Manager of Villa Abrazos Resort, filed a police report on February 27th. Collazo detailed how Marchena, using the alias Edwin Arley Gallego Avendano, defrauded the resort of over USD 50,000 through unpaid room charges and fraudulent payment promises.

Marchena is expected to face charges of obtaining property by deception. Investigations are ongoing to determine if he has targeted other resorts in the country.

 

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