Police in Costa Rica have arrested five American citizens on charges of running a call center and swindling elderly US citizens out of millions of dollars.
The detainees have been identified as Dodt, Jordan, Sniffen, Nastasi, and Fink, according to Tico Times. Another suspect named Mommers is reportedly on the run.
Interestingly, the suspects were using the same modus operandi as some US expats in Costa Rica were accused of using some years ago.
Posing as agents from the US Federal Trade Commission, they would call elderly citizens in the United States and inform them that they have won a sweepstakes prize. When the winners responded eagerly to claim the prize, they would persuade them to wire funds for insurance and taxation fees.
They always used voice over Internet protocols (VoIP) — internet telephone services — to disguise the calls’ country of origin.
According to Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), they ran a call center in San Jose. The police acted on a tip-off from Interpol, which was apparently alerted by US security agents.
It seems the suspects were hiding in Costa Rica after US police began investigating a series of complaints from victims in North Carolina. The detainees will soon be extradited to North Carolina where they will face trail.
Nearly 50 US citizens have already been convicted in connection with similar telemarketing scams in North Carolina, according to a Tico Times’ article published in 2015.
Analysts say many such criminals shifted to Costa Rica after security agencies cracked down on suspicious call centers across the United States three years ago.