Costa Rica News – Police were tipped off by anonymous callers who indicated that a couple had experienced a rapid fortune. The confidential callers said that the husband and wife appeared to have acquired many luxuries in a short time. They were suspected of engaging in illegal activities.
The OIJ, the Judicial Investigation Organization, began investigating in June of last year. It turns out that they say the couple, who are in their early 30s, has stolen $2 million from the company where the man, surnamed Giro, worked. His wife, surnamed Villalobos, had three farms and two cars in her name and he had three properties.
They were arrested and questioned at the Public Ministry. They were responsible for collecting debts for the companies sales of health and beauty products and home care items. They were supposed to give the money to the company, but kept some for themselves. Buying the vehicles, lots, and homes were a way to legitimize the money. The charges include fraud and money laundering.
The authorities raided their home in La Carpintera de San Rafael, Cartago. They seized watches, jewelry, vehicles, and documents related to the case.
These people are not the only ones running scams in Costa Rica. Here are some common scams to look out for.
There are unofficial parking guards everywhere. They beg for enough money to buy a reflective vest and a few beers. They then start talking to everyone with a car. They get really close and offer to watch your car. They give advice about restaurants and make small talk. You assume they are too close because they are drunk. That’s only one of the reasons. The other is that they are often trying to pickpocket you. A lady recently noticed her wallet and binoculars missing after such a confrontation.
Then there are the working girls. They steal your heart with their sad story. You feel bad and end up offering to send her a few hundred dollars a month. In exchange, you can feel proud that you have a Costa Rican girlfriend “waiting” for your return. She’s out of the lifestyle, you think. You get calls a few months later with more sad news. She can’t afford to pay for her son’s karate lessons. They live in a bad neighborhood. You send more money. And so it continues. She is probably telling the same stories to three other men and living in a fancy condo in Escazu.
If you are young and adventurous, you may encounter a man like Tabora Wilson on your vacation to Costa Rica. He will offer you a dream career in modeling and make you a “lookbook,” which is necessary in the industry, for a “low cost,” between $300-$1300. You will never get the product or payment for the jobs you did. He was arrested two days ago for running this scam on 41 people, but there are more just like him.
Maybe you are older and wiser. You saved money for a dream retirement home. Steer clear of those offering predevelopment ultra low costs. These projects often never get fully developed. You can wait for years for plans to become legalized, all the while, your money is long gone. Suing the company is often fruitless because they have disappeared or gone broke and there’s nothing left to take back. Along the same lines, you may hear, “Get in before the new highway is built.” If you are in a rural area, think, “What highway?” And research it! Often there is no highway, mall, golf course, etc. coming soon. You are just buying a farm in the middle of nowhere that while remain the middle of nowhere for a long time.
Lastly, there’s the issue of squatters. If you leave your home for any period of months, ensure that someone is there to look after it. Have a contract with that someone in writing, so that neither he nor anyone else can gain legal possession of your land. Squatters have rights in Costa Rica. Protect your property.