Mistakes Expats Make in Costa Rica

Here’s a list of Mistakes Expats Make in Costa Rica

law-firm-page-for-webThe law is can be preventive medicine, but if not used correctly, it is a devastating curative medicine.  So, please let me try and help you avoid mistakes made by those who came to Costa Rica before you, and try and keep you out ‘hot water.’

1. Do not do anything you would not do in your own home town: A lot of foreigners seem to believe they can outsmart the system when they come to a less developed country. Or, it just may be the kind way most Costa Ricans behave with ‘gringos’, which turn them into wishful thinkers.

Always bear in mind that the legal system in Costa Rica is Napoleonic, not Common Law, so things are handled very differently than in the US or Canada. Because of that, the best place to begin your investment plan is in an attorney’s office.

It is best not to try the Do it yourself’ method! Some people, in trying to save some dollars in legal fees, avoid the work of finding a good attorney to guide them through their problems. Do not do that! Do your homework. Find an attorney, you feel comfortable with and stay with him for as long as he does a good work.

2. Do not rush into the decision of hiring an attorney. If you are thinking of investing in Costa Rica, like it or not, hiring a local attorney is a must for you. It does not matter if you are just buying a car, a home or planning to set up a million dollar business. You will need an attorney. You may not like the idea of paying legal fees, who does? But accept it and live with it. The idea is to have your lawyer working for you as ‘preventive medicine’, as a kind of insurance against what ‘might happen.’

Consider the legal fees as your insurance premium, because that’s really what it is. Today, you will pay a fraction of what it will probably cost to try and fix that problem later on if you do not have an honest attorney to guide you.

3. Do not think of buying Costa Rica real estate and only follow the real estate broker’s advice! In Costa Rica, real estate brokers are not licensed in the same way they are in the United States . Some of them are real professionals, but a lot of them are just ‘enthusiastic’ sales people.

Either buying or selling real estate, you will probably have a need for a broker’s services, but even if your Costa Rica real estate agent is first class, have your attorney on board and have him supervise the process.

Real Estate Fraud 24. Do not blindly trust your own countrymen! Just because they have been here more time than you have. I have seen that US citizens being conned by US people and, Canadians by Canadians and so forth. Be careful! There are a whole lot of strange people in this country, some of them fleeing from the FBI, Interpol, ex-wives and even from mental institutions.

5. Gentlemen! Please remember that you do not, I repeat, do NOT need to marry the first beautiful ‘Tica’ (Costa Rican woman) that you meet!

6. “Old Mac Donald had a farm“: And he lost it, because never took care of it. This is a common story in Costa Rica. Again, please remember that our legal system is different.

7. South of the Border…  Not everybody here wears a big Mexican ‘sombrero’ and has a big bushy moustache and not all the ladies are named “Juanita Bonita’. South of the Río Grande,  you will find: México, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá, Colombia, Perú, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. All of them are different countries, with a different history, different people, and different laws.

8. “Easy comes easy goes.” I will not even waste your time on this matter. If it sounds too good to be true, then yes! It probably is too good to be true. Nobody on this earth can give you 45% per annum in a legitimate investment.

9. There is ‘risk’ even with legitimate well known and established private banks. Right now I am trying to help a client who deposited a large amount of money in CDs, in one local bank.

10. If you really want to live in Costa Rica then, please live IN Costa Rica! It was the year 335 B.C. Alexander the Great faced one of his greatest battles. When his army reached the Phoenician coasts, he realized their enemies outnumbered them by 3 to 1.

Do you know how he managed to win the battle? Quite simple! He ordered his ships to be burnt… While the ships where on fire and sinking on the ocean, he spoke to his army and told them the only way to go back home was on their enemy’s ships. It was that or else.

If you really want to become a resident in Costa Rica, you may have to burn your ships.

Costa Rica Scam Alert: Tips Avoiding Scams

Traveling to Costa Rica? Beware! Costa Rica Scam Alert:

Costa Rica Scam Alert:

Scam 3Tips Avoiding Scams In Costa Rica we here at Cody L Gear and Associates know you work hard for your money. That is why we want to provide you with a Costa Rica Scam Alert offering some tips that may help you avoid being scammed in Costa Rica or at home.
It has come to our attention that various Internet solicitations have appeared with increased frequency on such posting boards as Craigslist and other social networking sites encouraging consumers to deposit escrow funds to secure an interest in property located in Costa Rica via payment through Western Union payable to what appears to be a legitimate, reputable real estate company with name recognition. (Such as Remax, Century21, etc.…)

We have contacted the real estate companies and none of them are in any way associated with this type of solicitation. In fact, we have learned that this is another scam being perpetrated on unwary consumers and is currently being investigated by law enforcement.

Additionally, we have been made aware of an Advance Fee Scam involving the unauthorized use of a brand name such as the ones mentioned above, using a website and email address utilizing the name of the nationally known real estate company to hold Advanced fee scam the property. In an effort to instill confidence in this transaction, the scammer fraudulently claims to have listed the property with the multi listing service, using a local Real Estate office in Costa Rica and arranges for a fraudulent email notification posing as a real estate agent in Costa Rica (and uses the real estate company’s logos) to be sent to the victim. The scammer disappears once the deposit is received, leaving the prospective buyer defrauded. For your information there is no regulatory oversight of the Real Estate industry in Costa Rica and there are no licensing requirements. Because of these facts, there is no such thing as a multiple listing service in Costa Rica

Here are some tips to help you avoid such scams:

KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING MONEY TO – if you receive an email from a real estate agent with payment instructions, call the requesting office using the phone number located on the solicitation. Then call us (321-218-9209 or visit http://www.codygear.com )  to verify if this is a legitimate real estate company operating here in Costa Rica

CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services.

USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING OUT FINANCIAL AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION VIA EMAIL (bank account number, credit card number, social security number, etc.)

AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.

These types of scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before withdrawing your money – this is FALSE, once you’ve wired money, it is GONE.

PROPERTY LISTING MAY BE LOCAL, but landlord/owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money to them abroad.

Most scams involve one or more of the following:

Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country;
Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a “guarantee.”
Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.

Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?
Cody L Gear and Associates (321-218-9209 or visit http://www.codygear.com)
• FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
• FTC online complaint form (http://www.ftc.gov)
• Canadian Phone Busters hotline: 888-495-8501
• Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov)
• Non-emergency number for your local police department.
• The government agency in your country responsible for dealing with fraud

Information-Costa Rica Private Investigator Needs

What Information a Costa Rica Investigator Needs

information logo 1In order for a Costa Rica private investigator to find a missing person you will need to provide them with as much information as possible. It would be helpful if you could provide the private investigator with name, date of birth, Costa Rica Cedula number, age, last address known or anything else that you might consider helpful. However, if all you can provide is a name, a professional Costa Rica private investigator can still find the person you are looking for, even if they have remarried. Just keep in mind that the less information you have, the longer it might take for the private investigator to find the person you are looking for. It is also much harder for the private investigator to find someone if they are running from the law. Although, no matter what the circumstances the private investigator should exhaust all resources in order to find who they are looking for. Some tips; if your target lives in Costa Rica, they will have two last names. (i.e. Gonzalez- Bedoa)  This is very important as this will reduce the amount of time to locate them and/or get information on their whereabouts. If it is an American you seek the passport will also save time and money.

 

How do they find the person I am looking for?

Time logo 1A reliable, trustworthy Costa Rica professional private investigator has a number of different resources that the “ordinary person” does not have.. Private investigators have access to the most modern technology and databases that will help provide the information they are looking for. Some of these databases can only be used by private investigators, so the “ordinary person” would never have access to this information. They also have easier access to the large amounts of public records and information that is out there. Plus, last but not least, the skills they have acquired over the years as a private investigator gives them a great advantage over someone who doesn’t have the professional experience.

How long will it take?

Cheater photo 3How long it takes really depends on the person the private investigator is trying to find. A private investigator’s vast resources and professional experience can sometimes allow them to find someone in 24 hours or less! However, this greatly depends on how willing the person is to be found. If the private investigator is looking for an old friend, long lost love or a family member it should be a lot easier than looking for someone who is running from the law. It also depends on how much information you are able to give the private investigator.

Why should I hire a private investigator?

For an affordable and  reasonable amount a professional Costa Rica private investigator can find the person you are looking for. They have the skills, resources and time to get the job done in a timely fashion. In fact a private investigator can often find someone you have been looking for, for years in a matter of hours or days. Why spend countless days or even years trying to find someone when you can make a quick phone call and have a professional, Costa Rica private investigator devoted to the job? It just makes sense to use a private investigator that is in Costa Rica..

 

Surveillance in Costa Rica

How Does Surveillance in Costa Rica Work?

The most important stage of the surveillance in Costa Rica is getting to know the “subject” or as it is in many instances the suspected cheater. Information that would be necessary such as knowing what the cheating husband, cheating boyfriend, cheating wife, cheating girlfriend likes, dislikes, habits, type of food preferred, favorite restaurants frequented, employment information, hobbies, vehicles driven, possible person he/she might be cheating with, and a description of all parties. Provide information on everything if you suspect your spouse/partner of cheating as, the more you provide upfront, the better the chance for success. Leaving out a detail or two can have a dramatic effect on outcome of the surveillance.

Costa Rica Private InvestigatorOnce obtained and reviewed “a feel” for the subject and knowing his/her habits, the fieldwork, or surveillance, begins. While some private investigators hold themselves out to be surveillance experts, you know your spouse/partner better than they do and, the more information that you can provide them, the better chance for success in the field.

As the surveillance progresses, most clients want regular reports or communication regarding what we are finding in the field. Communication with clients on a continuing basis is an indispensable part of a professional surveillance strategy. While some prefer not to receive a report until the conclusion of the infidelity investigation and surveillance, it is generally recommended to have regular communications to discuss service and to implement changes when necessary. Most professional private investigators will determine the best method of communicating and frequency based on the circumstances of the surveillance.

Surveillance in Costa Rica

Ceating HusbandWith most private investigators it is common knowledge that the cheater is, generally, aware that someone may be watching or following him/her. Usually, this makes people become more aware of their surroundings while cheating. At times both the subject and the person who he/she is cheating with are both cheating, making it even more difficult to follow them without being seen. Circumstances like these can make it more practical to use a second investigator. While this will increase the cost, using two investigators on surveillance diminishes the chance of being burnt during the surveillance or losing the subject in traffic. Most successful surveillance operations involve a two or more person team. This especially true in Costa Rica.

There are times when infidelity, or cheating, is just not taking place even though you have seen signs to the contrary. There are also times when the cheating is far too infrequent with no established patterns, or so well hidden, that catching the cheater is not possible using normal investigative techniques.

Confidentiality and Discretion

All surveillance investigations should be completely confidential and private. Your identity, along with all information that we obtain on your behalf, should be maintained in the strictest of confidence. Information that obtained as a result of the surveillance should only be provided to you or your attorney.

Cheater photo 3If you have a surveillance that needs to be conducted in Costa Rica, be sure you vet the Investigator you contact. There are only a few here and caution should be exercised, particularly with people that want you to send money via Western Union. Caution should also be exercised with people who have only been here for the past year or so. Some boast of their background, but few can back it up. Be especially cautious of people who hold themselves out as consultants. The ones I know are retirees and have no real practical experience in private investigation. Just because they worked for the government doesn’t make them a good or reliable private investigator.

Murder in Costa Rica

Family of Five murdered in Costa Rica

Ceating HusbandThis a follow up on a murder in Costa Rica. It is a story, that frankly, has all too often been repeated here. Not necessarily ending with murder, but the consequences of making poor choices can lead to disastrous results. Although, we receive cases involving infidelity between Americans and Costa Ricans, there is a pattern of conduct that merits discussions. Understanding that everyone deserves someone special in their lives does equate to risking everything on a poor decision.

Destination and Temptation

Costa Rica is a world renowned destination for its climate, natural beauty and its women. The women here are generally attractive, polite and friendly. For the most part American men who come here are in search of a meaningful and lasting relationship. Most have passed the place in life where they are competitive in the dating market in the United States. Most have endured a broken heart either from a divorce or a death. Many are in their fifties or sixties and their choices in the States are limited to similarly situated women, who also have suffered the loneliness associated with such losses. Both bring “baggage” from their previous situation, ranging from abuse to financial trouble.

Murder in Costa Rica: Its a Job, not Love

Money LaunderingBecause of the opportunity to go somewhere and engage in a relationship with a woman that is in her twenties or thirties, who for all outward appearances is a victim of circumstance, is a temptation hard to resist. Most ignore the red flags. It should be obvious that a young attractive woman who is in the sex business is not looking for love. She is looking for financial security. In other words, it is her job. Your wellbeing, physically, emotionally and financially are at risk when you enter a relationship with such a woman.

In the case mentioned at the beginning, the news account of the Tico Times, details the background that ultimately led to this tragedy. Like many of the cases we handled, many of them begin with the American meeting a woman in one of the local watering holes that promote and allow this type of business to thrive. It is not uncommon for women to start visiting these places at as young as eighteen. By the time they are twenty four, they have had an unimaginable amount of sexual contact with countless men of whom they know or care little about.

 

Searching Web for a Private Investigator in Costa Rica? Caution!

Caution When Searching Web for a Private Investigator in Costa Rica

Searching the web for a private investigator Costa Rica? Caution! See sites that say they are the “premier” private investigation agency in Costa Rica? Others that say, “we are the only American-owned, full-time agency located in Costa Rica? (Actually, one such claim is completely false as the principal was deported and now resides in Nicaragua, and, is forbidden to re-enter Costa Rica.) Or declaring that “our private investigator possess decades of experience in Federal Law Enforcement, Military Special Forces, Investigations, and Personal Protection?” Perhaps other sites that say “Investigations & Intelligence services in Costa Rica 30+ YEARS OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR EXPERIENCE”. All claims without substance. One such company is a referral source out of Los Angeles that does not identify the private investigators. 

CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION!

First of all I am an American and my full time job is dedicated to private investigations in Costa Rica. Secondly, I can verify my credentials. Others can’t or won’t. Searching for a reliable, trustworthy and affordable private investigator is a challenge. First, most clients looking for these types of services have very little information upon which to make a decision. Secondly, clients usually don’t have any idea of what to ask or look for when searching for a private investigator. Thirdly, most clients are unsure what it takes to have a successful investigation and feel guilty inquiring about such services.

A Private Investigator that is Reliable and Trustworthy is Challenging

Just because someone touts his phenomenal exploits and experience, there is no clearing house to prove or disprove such outlandish claims. For example; “decades of Federal experience”, “expert witness in Federal Court”, ‘ U.S. Trained forensic expert”, all such claims are ambiguous and without foundation. Most of the former law enforcement men and women that are private investigators know that being a Federal Agent does not in any way prepare you for the real world of private investigations. First, Federal Agents have at their disposal unlimited resources and budgets. It’s nothing for the government to assign 50 or 60 agents to one case. Each branch of the Federal Law enforcement has very specialized areas of investigations and the agents assigned to those areas are not permitted to work outside their assigned division. Thus, if an agent is assigned to forensics such as computers, blood types or fingerprints, what training and knowledge does he have to conduct a surveillance with limited resources and budget? Secondly, being an expert witness is at the sole discretion of the Court. If someone is deemed an expert witness on ballistics, what does this mean if the case being investigated is child custody?

It has been my pleasure to work with numerous Federal agents. They are professional and absolutely the best at the specialty they investigate. However, it has been my experience that they make less than average private investigators. Most Federal agents that retire find work in the corporate sector, which like the government has an abundance of resources and financial allocations to carry out their missions. Most private investigations involve individuals with limited resource and budgets.

There cannot be enough emphasis put on the actual physical location of the private investigator. If you call or request a blind quote and you get an immediate response without the private investigator asking you about the location and circumstances surrounding the investigation, something is “rotten in Denmark”. Each case is uniquely different and requires different resources for different situations. Someone here knows this and will ask for details in order to determine what needs to be done to have a successful investigation.

Someone who lives, for example in Nicaragua, Panama or the United States, has little if any control over the resources needed to conduct a successful investigation. Thus, it is essential that you use someone who is physically here. The others will prove to unprofessional and the results you get will be less than satisfactory.

Are You Visiting Costa Rica Warning

Are You Visiting Costa Rica? Warning

WarningAre you Visiting Costa Rica? Warning; violent crime has reached an all time high here. 2015 saw nearly 600 murders as opposed to 378 deaths in automobile accidents. This beautiful country has been mired with an onslaught of murders that seem uncontrolled. Although the authorities are aware and alarmed at the increase, they lack the infrastructure to adequately respond. This is not to criticize the government here, but merely a statement of fact.

 

Costa Rica Not Prepared

Costa Rica prison situation, overcrowded, poorly managed and woefully under financed has led the government to release back into the population hundreds of convicted criminals. This in combination with the expanding narco trafficking and influx of Mexican gang members is fueling the homicide rate. The majority of murders involve Costa Ricans.

Murders of Foreign Nationals Rise

However, the indiscriminate murder of foreign nationals is on the rise as well. Recently two Dutch nationals along with their woker were bound and executed at their propety in Punterenas. Other examples include a brutal attack on another Dutch national who operates a small bed and breakfast, where 3 Mexican guests attacked and tried to strangle her to death.

The police here are underfunded and despite their best efforts they struggle to identify and capture violent criminals. Even when they do the chances of the suspect remaining in jail are slim. Costa Rica has no capital punishment for murderers. Prison sentences are short lived with the violent criminals serving only a small portion of their sentences.

My advice is to always be aware of your surroundings and don’t take unnecessary risks while visiting this tropical paradise. Do not take your security for granted. Don’t travel alone if possible. Maintain contact with loved ones back home and tell them your activities as well as posting on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. For example, post a picture of your hotel and rental car. In the event something does happen, you have left valuable information to follow.

I know that most don’t want to think about bad things that can happen when travelling to a foreign country, but today it is necessary to exercise caution wherever you go.

 

Why you shouldn’t throw out your boarding pass

Never discard your boarding pass

CG logoWhenever we fly, it’s a necessity to have a boarding pass to board the airplane.

We protect them with our lives to make sure we have it readily available, but what do we usually do with them once the flight’s over?? Some leave it on the airplane; others tuck it in their pockets and put it down: others leave in the back of the seat in front of them when the exit the airplane, forgetting their whereabouts once we are done with them. I never realized that being so careless with the whereabouts of my boarding pass could potentially get me into so much trouble!

The reason? According to ‘Krebs on Security”, there’s a ton of personal information encrypted on the boarding pass. Once someone gets a screen shot of the bar code on the boarding pass you’ll be shocked at how much an unscrupulous person can discover about you: personal email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers. From there, they can gain access to financial and banking information. Watch the video below and learn about the risks and damage you face by being careless with your boarding pass.

https://youtu.be/jM4_iz3RqE8

Take precautions to protect your boarding pass

In this day and age of perpetual technological advances and the unlimited use of smart phones your personal information is under constant bombardment from the bad guys.

Even digitally copied on your own cell phone or tablet puts you at risk of it being scanned and all of your personal information is available to the person making the search.

The best advice is that you keep it in your possession until after the flight and then when you return to your home or office make sure it is destroyed. Don’t put it in the trash and never post it to your social media.

 

 

Someone is Missing in Costa Rica

If someone is missing in Costa Rica, do not waste any time initiating an investigation. The longer you delay, the greater the chances that they may never be found.

Missing personI have had several calls to investigate the disappearance of people who were visiting Costa Rica and all of them have failed to find the missing person. The main reason for this was the lack of effort from the earliest known moment that the person went missing. Unlike the United States where there are all kinds of alerts for missing or endangered people, Costa Rica has no viable system in place to alert people of the missing person.

Why it is Important to Report someone missing in Costa Rica Immediately

Almost everyone here is busy scratching out a living and really do not have time to stop what they are doing to volunteer for a search. Such was the case recently when a woman came up missing in Guanacaste under suspicious circumstances. We were not retained until three weeks after the initial disappearance.

Having prior law enforcement experience I know the value of early response to a reported missing person. Because of earlier response time to such reports many of the missing were located. The others who were found to be the victims of a crime, the earlier response assisted in bringing those responsible to justice to answer for their deeds.

In Costa Rica the law enforcement is understaffed and under resourced. They lack the adequate resources and equipment to undertake a search for a missing person. Much of Costa Rica is endowed with lush tropical forest and jungles that lure many inexperienced and novice hikers to explore their beauty. Unaware of the lack of communication once in these areas and being poorly equipped, many of the best hikers get lost.

 

Dangers in the jungles range from Jaguars to over thirty nine species of poisonous snakes, not to mention crocodiles and scorpions. Medical response and medical facilities are spread out and it could take hours in some instance to get to a medical facility. Once there of course, there is a concern that they will have the necessary equipment and staff to treat the injury.

Thus the need to report a missing person and contact someone here in Costa Rica to start looking for that person will play a vital part in finding and returning the missing person.

Costa Rica Fraud Alert: Private Property Registry in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Fraud Alert:

Private Property Registry in Costa Rica (PPR)

Real Estate FraudWe here at Cody L. Gear and Associates, have learned of a service provided to owners of private property in Costa Rica. The name of this service is Private Property Registry (PPR) and currently protects over 15,000 properties in Costa Rica.

 

 

How PPR Works

According to information we obtained from Fijatevos.com each night the PPR robot connects to the National Registry’s data feed and downloads the day’s transactions. Once the data is generated, the company’s software takes over, and the data is analyzed and compared to the previous day’s snapshot. By 1:30 am a report is generated detailing any change whatsoever to any property related to one the company’s clients. At 5:30 am this report is reviewed by the company’s legal department. Each change is analyzed to determine whether it is innocuous or whether it represents a possible threat to the client. On average, about 90 changes are detected and 1 is deemed a threat to be taken seriously.

At this point, the PPR legal team notifies the client by email, telephone or fax. The client can specify the preferred method of contact, or also additional contacts – such as the client’s personal lawyer. At this point the client will confirm that it is a legitimate change, for example they have taken out a loan or sold the property. If the change is not authorized, the client or PPR can take action immediately.

Registry Procedures Explained

How You and PPR Can Use Them to Protect Your Property from Changes

The National Registry is required by law to follow certain procedures when updating their records. The first step is that a lawyer, or their assistant, will present documents requesting the change to the registry. Upon this presentation a notation is made on the property records regarding the proposed change.

The following step in the process is for a registry bureaucrat to review the documents presented to determine if they are valid and if there are any errors in the descriptions or clauses. If they are deemed valid and correct, then the change is approved and entered into the registry. A key factor here is that by law a change may not be submitted and approved the same day. While normally there is a 7 to 10 day delay in this process, when schemers and shysters have obtained cooperation from an unscrupulous registry employee, then the changes are pushed through rapidly.

The PPR system takes advantage of this mandated time delay. The automated software reports annotations overnight. This means that if a change is recorded or noted, the property owner or PPR may submit a document opposing the change the same business day, which will effectively freeze the process and obligate the registry to determine the validity of the documents that were submitted requesting the change.

PPR Services and Pricing

The PPR offers 2 types of service. The first level is called Monitor and Notify, which costs $143 per year. You, and anyone you specify, will be notified in the event of any change to your property. The notification is sent by email, fax and telephone as soon as the PPR legal department determines that there is a problem. If you have more than one property in Costa Rica, you can get a package that will monitor up to 8 properties for $384 per year.

The higher level service is called Maximum Security, and includes the first level plus an automatic procedure for stopping the transaction in the registry. It costs $250 annually. When you activate this service, you sign a power of attorney that allows the PPR legal department to file a prepared statement in the registry on your behalf. The statement opposes any change to your property information in the registry, which effectively stops the transaction. Once this document is filed, the registry is required to investigate both claims and provide additional documentation for proceeding with the change. In the case of fraudulent claim, this alone will stop the perpetrators cold.

For more information concerning and other services available to protect your investments in Costa Rica,call Cody L Gear and Associates at 321-218-9209