Four persons detained as suspects in San José land fraud case

Judicial agents detained three men and a woman Tuesday on allegations that they participated in the theft of property by using false paperwork.

The property, reported to be in downtown San José, was sold for $180,000, agents said.

The arrests were made in San José and Tres Ríos, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The investigation began in July, the agency said. The names have not yet been released officially.

One of those detained is the man who became the new owner of the property.

Typically such scams require the services of a crooked notary because in the Costa Rican system it is the notary and not the owner who prepares the sales documents for the Registro Nacional. Agents did not say if there was a notary among those detained Tuesday.

Land thefts through paperwork are a continuing problem, but the Registro has initiated a system so that property owners can be notified by email if there are transactions affecting their holdings.

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