Cheating is Alive and Well in Costa Rica

Recently, I have noted an increase in cases involving cheating spouses in Costa Rica. During the past year, the demand for surveillance of cheating spouses has risen dramatically.

The increase has been so dramatic that our agency has had to increase staff to keep pace with the demand. Why this is occurring is a puzzle. According to available research on the subject defining the reason, or, what force is behind the increase, is not readily apparent. Most of the research indicates that this increase during economic hard times is contrary to available data and recent polls suggesting, most people cannot afford exposure to a divorce.

Perhaps one reason is due to the increased pressure that economic hard times bring to the family environment. Alternatively, the increase could be related to the egregious spouse wanting to escape the pressures associated with making ends meet. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with many natural resources that bring visitors from all over the world. Costa Rica is world renown for its beautiful beaches and rainforest. It is also known as a fishing destination for the avid fishermen, especially from the United States. Many of the cases now being investigated begin with the story that the errant spouse is going to Costa Rica to fish.

This “cover story”, in a sense that is true. But the type of fishing being done is not in the ocean. It is in the numerous locations that have young, beautiful and exotic women who work in the sex trade. The bait being used is approximately six inches long, green and is called United States currency.

The most prevalent areas of the United States that experience the highest rate of cheating spouses coming to Costa Rica come from the larger metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami. Over the past six months, the majority of infidelity cases have come greater from Atlanta area. The cases range from a weekend spree to secreting money to the prostitutes and starting new families complete with children.

In those cases where the cheating spouse has bought real estate in Costa Rica, without the knowledge or consent of the stateside wife, she can attach all assets here in Costa Rica without first obtaining a divorce in the United States. Costa Rica has very unique laws concerning such real estate purchases.

Our office here in San Jose is fully staffed and I have a partner who is a licensed Costa Rican Attorney. This is absolutely necessary here in order to recover assets that have been acquired surreptitiously and provide the innocent spouse with equitable relief from the Costa Rican Courts. Although I have a law degree, I do not practice law in Costa Rica and advise that anyone needing a detailed explanation of the laws here contact someone like my partner, Roberto Romero Mora and have the law explained in detail.

Often I am asked, when should a suspicious spouse seek my services. The mere fact he is coming to Costa Rica with buddies is sufficient to warrant a surveillance. If nothing happens then the spouse in the United States can have peace of mind and an increased level in confidence in her spouse.

Surveillance Expectations versus Reality

When it comes to surveillance expectations versus reality it is usually in the eye of the beholder as to the degree of success a private investigator will enjoy.

Surveillance is not a science it is an art. By and large, the success of a surveillance depends on the observer. And perhaps even greater by the environment surrounding the surveillance. Many who call to have a surveillance conducted have never done so before. With that comes a variety of questions and assumptions about the surveillance process. Thus, surveillance expectations should be tempered with reasonable goals. Getting video of infidelity in a bedroom will not happen,

Expectations

It has been my experience that the decision to watch someone comes quickly. Usually when something happens in a relationship that triggers a suspicion or furthers a previous suspicion. Professionals know that last minute surveillances are a challenge as there is little or no time to plan and prepare.  Planning a surveillance well in advance of the actual operation is always best. This allows the investigator to take tactical advantage of the circumstances that the case presents. This is particularly true in Costa Rica as the distance the team must travel in order to arrive at the surveillance destination is sometimes between four to six hours.

Reality

For example, many of the resorts in Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador have a gated and guarded entrance. Accessing these as a non-guest is very difficult. If the target of a surveillance has given information about the location they will be staying sufficiently in advance of arrival, it allows the investigator and his team to make reservations at the same location and allows for surveillance that will be very successful. It also permits for the surveillance team to access the resort at will thus making the chances of success much greater.

A professional will have a  surveillance team. Organizing and placing agents in locations that give the best vantage is essential to a successful surveillance. So-called investigators that try and do this alone are doomed to failure. Today,   awareness of what is going on in the immediate area and seeing the same face too often will alert a target of being watched.

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..

 

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.

 

 

Breaking news on Barbara Sturncova

Breaking news on Barbara Sturncova

Missing Person BarbaraBarbara Sturrncova who went missing five years ago is in the news again. Apparently her male companion, William Ulner, was arrested today while attempting to board an airplane with his new bride by the FBI. He was arrested for using a fraudulent passport.  In the past, there has been much speculation about Ulner and the role he played in Sturncova’s disappearance. No one has seen or hear from Sturncova since her disappearance and none of her bank cards have been used.

We wrote a cold case article about her and others that have mysteriously  vanished into thin air never to be seen or heard from again. Fox 31 in Denver is reporting the story. There have been several people who have tried unsuccessfully to find Sturncova but have run into dead ends.

The information we have received is that Ulner recently married and was at the airport leaving for his honeymoon when the FBI nabbed him. Information on his new wife and other information concerning his arrest has not been disclosed.