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Illegal Property Transactions and Identity Theft in Costa Rica


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ILLEGAL PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS AND IDENTITY THEFT IN COSTA RICA

For a few years now, property theft and fraud has been a growing problem in Costa Rica. Some legitimate owners have discovered only too late that their registered real estate – farms, land, residences or buildings – or other property, such as cars, buses and trucks, have been stolen by identity thieves.

 

Such fraud has meant heavy losses for the main targets – legitimate owners of properties duly recorded with the National Property Registry.

 

It also causes disruptions in public and private institutions in the National Banking System, particularly when properties are mortgaged or declared as free and clear without proper authorization from the registered owners.

HOW DOES PROPERTY THEFT HAPPEN?

 

Property theft is increasingly common, both in Costa Rica and internationally. The fraudulent transfer of property and vehicles via the National Property Registry begins with the theft of the owner’s identity, as follows:

  • Posing as the owner, a criminal ring transfers the good to one of its members.
  • The crime ring, now the “owner” of the property, sells it to a (usually) unsuspecting third party.
  • Because the good has been acquired in good faith, the law protects the buyer, and the original owner is powerless to recover his or her property.

Scammed mortgages are another modus operandi of fraudsters:

  • Having already received the money for the mortgage on a property, the crime ring forges the signature of a creditor’s representative, certifying the property as free and clear
  • The ring continues to make the original mortgage payments (so that the bank does not find out that they no longer have collateral on the loan).
  • The scammers then obtain another “first” mortgage for the unencumbered property with a different institution.
  • The property is repeatedly mortgaged in this way, until the scammers stop making payments.
  • In the end, only the last creditor has a claim to the mortgage.

If you wish to receive more information about how you can protect your valuable assets and investments in Costa Rica, I would be more than happy to provide you more information via e-mail at jan.kozak.jr@gmail.com.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Jan Kozak

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