Swampland in Florida refers to decades-old but still recurring real estate scams involving swamp lands misrepresented as being possible to develop, or "buildable". These scams became widely known and now also have meaning as a common figure of speech.
Expressions like "I have swampland in Florida to sell you" or "I have prime swampland to sell you" are slang expressions that the recipient shows gullibility. It says figuratively that someone lacks sense like one who would fall for an old deception or fraud of paying large amounts of money for a worthless item such as swampland. These phrases are often preceded by or imply, "If you believe that then..." Sometimes other swampy locations besides Florida are used in the term.
In the 1960s and 1970s, scammers used nationwide advertising to lure victims to buy Florida real estate without visiting the properties first. It was a form of confidence trick. The new owners came to find their land was under water in a swamp or in some other way impossible to build upon. As the scam became widely known, California and New York legislators acted in 1963 to restrict this false advertising. Florida also enacted the Installment Land Sales Act that year in an effort to restore its reputation.Swampland scams still occur in Florida. The Internet has brought about a resurgence via online auctions of Florida real estate. Scammers circumvent commercial registration requirements by making one-on-one sales. Over great distances some buyers can be convinced to pay before verifying claims. It usually involves unbuildable swampland misrepresented as buildable to fraudulently inflate the sale price