AN expat who scammed dozens of investors in a bogus truffle scheme has died, leaving a string of investors millions out of pocket.
The untimely death of Wendy Smart – aka Wendy Jeffery – has left countless backers in the UK and Spain wondering where their investment has gone.
They question where an estimated €4 million of investors money is currently located, amid claims much is offshore in the Seychelles and the Cayman Islands.
While they seem satisfied she has died, they are now demanding those close to her reveal the whereabouts of their money.
The suspect scheme to produce black truffles quite simply never got off the ground, with the science failing to work and the amount Smart actually invested remaining highly suspicious.
After failing to plant a single tree in the Ronda area – despite dozens of expats investing in the scheme that was ‘guaranteed’ to make huge returns – she fled to Valencia.
Claiming there were better growing conditions there, she took yet more victims money, until finally exposed by the Olive Press in July 2014.
In a damning investigation, we revealed how the project was a shambles.
The land had not been properly acquired, numerous trees had died and the staff and subcontractors had not been paid.
At the time, an action group was set up to demand answers and attempt to recoup money that the group claimed had been sent offshore.
But now that chance has all but gone with the untimely death of Smart, who suffered a stroke and fell into a coma at her farmhouse in the Villamartin area of Cadiz.
One British expat, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Olive Press that he has ‘no hope’ of ever seeing a return on his €20,000 investment in 230 trees.
“There must be money somewhere and there are certainly assets somewhere, money doesn’t just disappear.
“I got on with Wendy as soon as I met her and she offered me commission for introducing people to the company.
“Soon enough money started appearing in my bank account, small amounts at first then building up to one payment of €2,000. I suddenly got interested!
“This is when I invested €20,000 in the company and then the problems started and the cash flow stopped.”
He added: “I just feel sorry for the pensioners who have invested their life savings. Wendy has left a trail of devastation behind her.”
He believes around €4 million was invested in total.
The only visible money spent was on a slick website and marketing materials, with the land failing to produce any truffles.
The land was eventually taken back by the owners and Smart’s company Parkview was closed and she reopened under Europe Truffles SL, which has now disbanded.
Wendy’s husband Martin failed to respond to phone calls or emails as we went to press.