Four out of ten complaints of extortion in Costa Rica are “sextortions”
QCOSTARICA (Nacion.com) Four out of ten complaints of extortion filed with the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), San José headquarters, in the first half of 2022, were derived from the victims’ search for sexual services on the Internet, without imagining that entering such a website can become a showcase for crime.
Victims are extorted after sharing intimate photos or videos. Image for illustrative purposes
Between January and June of this year, the OIJ recorded 444 cases of extortion, of which 215 were for ‘gota a gota’ loans (loans of small amounts at high-interest rates to people and business owners who have trouble obtaining credit), 179 corresponded to sextortion and 20 to “protection money” or sentimental conflicts.
Osvaldo Ramírez Miranda, head of the Investigation Unit of the OIJ Miscellaneous Crimes Section, said that with the pandemic the cases they deal with have increased and that they are concerned that in just six months they have such a high figure if taken into account, in all of last year 666 complaints were filed (300 for gota a gota loans, 270 for sextortion and 96 for simple extortion).
“We have a fairly considerable increase and although we have addressed this issue from different fronts, the most important thing in these situations is that the population reports them, so we invite them to process their complaints if at any time they fall into the networks of the organizations,” Ramirez said.
The police chief explained each of the methods as follows:
Gota a Gota loans: A person takes out an informal loan, without documents, without guarantors and at a certain moment the collections begin to be made under threats, either of death, physical aggression or harm to relatives of the offended person.
Sextortion: In this case, the victim enters a sexual services website, they initiate interaction and after sharing intimate photos or videos they are extorted, the criminals ask for excessive payments of money in exchange for not spreading the material.
Simple extortion: Within this category is the modality known as “protection money”, which occurs in some communities where merchants pay organizations in exchange for not being robbed or having security. Likewise, there are couple conflicts in which one of those involved asks for money in exchange for not publishing material (photos or videos) made during the relationship or, finally, there are cases where a person takes a cell phone to be repaired and a few months later being to receive threatening messages, where they ask for a payment to not to disclose any recording or image.
Sextortion is one of the most disturbing new scams to have appeared in recent years. In 2021 there were 300 cases filed with the OIJ, in the first half of 2022 there were 169 cases. Image for illustrative purposes.
Given the increase in complaints, the OIJ recommends, in addition to the complaint, to avoid taking out loans informally and, if you start receiving threats, not to pay and turn immediately to the authorities.
In the case of websites that offer sexual services, Ramírez says that it is necessary to know that these are risky and recommends that if you become a victim you should not agree to make payments, but go to the nearest OIJ. He acknowledges that there are many people who do not do it out of shame or fear, but that there are cases where the extortion goes on for a long time, which is why it is vital to file a complaint.
Finally, when faced with other types of extortion, he asks not to give money under any circumstances and to file a complaint.