Although he vanished 10 years ago, Luis Enrique Villalobos still has a following. Internet records show that his name is the subject of dozens of searches in the archives of A.M. Costa Rica each week.
For those who are doing the searching, this quote from a group of Villalobos supporters summarizes the situation: “We have not heard from LEV for a very long time, and do not know if anyone has, including the family that has likewise been uncommunicative.”
The quote is from the Web page of the United Concerned Citizens & Residents. This is the group that was insistent that Villalobos (LEV) would return in 10 years and pay off his high-interest creditors.
This also is the group that urged creditors not to press criminal charges against Oswaldo Villalobos Camacho, a man a court found had a major role in what judges determined was the Villalobos financial fraud.
Many of those creditors who persisted managed to recover some of their money.
But there are other plans in the works.
The United Concerned Citizens & Residents noted in a statement late last year that another group has sprouted that seeks to start another lawsuit against the Villalobos family.Said the United Concerned Citizens & Residents:
“From the beginning we have refused to be enlisted in such schemes as we believe that LEV would want to return whatever funds are available on his own, without being forced to do so. We are disappointed by the lack of communications but we must assume that there are serious reasons that prevent any contact, and can only hope and pray for his safety and well being.”
New arrivals may not be aware of the Villalobos operation, called The Brothers, that fueled a luxury lifestyle for many expats in the late 1990s until July 4, 2002. That was the day when investigators raided the high-interest borrowing operations and the money exchange businesses operated by Oswaldo.
Despite promises to reestablish his operation on a more businesslike footing, Enrique Villalobos continued to cite technical problems in repaying his creditors.
When he vanished later that year, there was as much as $1 billion of unpaid debt on his books.
He had been paying about 3 percent a month in cash without any kind of tax records. Judges agreed with prosecutors that the operation was a ponzi scheme, but there did not seem to be real proof of this.
United Concerned Citizens & Residents tried to launch a lawsuit of its own but against the Costa Rican government for shutting down the operation. But that case never got a full court hearing, and the group blamed its lawyer at the time.