If a person from outside Costa Rica wants to make their first mistake a big one in Costa Rica? The best way to do it is say to a Costa Rican that “Costa Rica is a 3rd world country.”
Although the politically correct term would be “less developed country” the jury is still out on that question if it is or if it is not?
On the question of crime the answer is a definitive yes! On the positive side when it comes to violent crime such as murder, they do a great job, because they have a division called OIJ (English – Judicial Investigation Organization ) this department is their equivalent of the FBI in the USA and they do a very good job. But on street crime, sophisticated frauds etc., they don’t have a clue! And the street thugs and scammers know it…
The problem here is not that the police are bad, we can blame the structure of the various departments and the laws.
For example, they have basically two divisions – there are more but for this I don’t want it to get too convoluted – first they have the regular police (most would know them as street cops) who answer complaints and if they see a crime happen in front of them they can help but, if they see a car being driven recklessly and putting children in danger, bus drivers hit a pedestrian etc. they can do nothing, that is the responsibility of the traffic police.
And to add insult to injury the two departments as a rule don’t like each other, the consequences are obvious. I see vehicles being driven in excess of 50 mph within 13″-16″ of children at least 50 times each day.
When it comes to fraud and scams? From what I can see, you now have entered the twilight zone! It is kind of legally ‘acceptable’ to scam someone outside Costa Rica by someone who’s in Costa Rica if the transaction is done through wire transfers etc. and if the scammers report the income and pay the taxes.
And if some ‘concerned citizen’ reports on a scam and the scammers have really aggressive attorneys – which most of them do – then it’s possible the ‘concerned citizen’ could go to jail because of Costa Rica’s draconian laws on defamation and slander because the scammer may not have broken the law in Costa Rica!
Then add the rumor (just a rumor) that the big scammers pay off the right people to turn their heads, now you have a case where the good guys have put themselves in a Catch 22 situation.
The most prevalent scams in Costa Rica are the land development scams…
- “Buy now before the new airport is built!”
- “Buy now before the new highway is built!” (The one they’re finishing up now only took 30 years to get done!
- “Save thousands with pre-development prices!”
- “In a few short years your land will be worth 3-5 times your initial investment!”
Although there are many legitimate developers, in many cases the developers do not even have permits to build, and in some cases they don’t have clear title to the land they are selling!
We tell all of our clients, if you can’t put a key in the door of the house and if they can’t show clear title to two different attorneys of your choice? Run like a bunny!
On the chica (girl) scam? Here’s how it works:
First we need to understand Americans as a rule do like to help people, it is in our DNA so us guys are suckers for a sad story. The guy meets a young lady and maybe the young lady is a “working girl?”
The guy will ask: “Do you like doing this work?” The answer is always no (you think?) then the next question would be: “What would it take so you would not need to be a working girl?”
After the chica looks at his watch, his clothes and shoes, she sees what hotel he is staying in, she will throw a dollar number at him. The first amount is usually $600-$1,100 per month and most men from the USA can do that easy.
Now the process starts because that first amount is usually good for about two months then …
“My little boy wants karate class”, or “soccer training” or “my little girl wants to take dance classes” and “it’s only $150-$200 more per month.”
Then: “Honey my house is not safe, can I move in to a safer neighborhood?” Of course the “honey” wants his babe to be safe, here comes an extra $300-$600 per month. You can see where this is going.
But what we see over 80% of the time the chica (girl) has a minimum of three men she’s working on at the same time! I’ve seen them with BMWs, Corvettes, Hummers and US$200,000 condos in Escazu and all the children are going to the most expensive private schools in Costa Rica with more designer labels than a Wall Street brat and one chica we found was going through more cocaine than a pro football player!
The answer is if you don’t live here full time, do not have a full time girlfriend!
If you don’t like that answer? Here’s what you need to be prepared to do, you need to keep an eye on her and run a full big time background check, telephone check every 6-10 weeks! That’s the only way you will ever know the truth!
Written by a VIP Member who is a private detective
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