Q COSTA RICA – With all the scams popping up, it’s super important to take safety precautions when you’re buying or selling a used car in Costa Rica.

The case of Glenda Peraza, a well-known public figure, scammed of her life savings, and the tragic murder of a young man while trying to buy a used car are two examples of things gone wrong. A scary reminder of how dangerous it can be and how important it is to stay informed and be prepared.

As scams become more prevalent in our society, it is important to take precautions when purchasing or selling a vehicle to ensure one’s safety.

Both cases serve as a reminder of the potential risks that exist in such situations.

In the first three months of 2023, according to the fraud section of the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) – Judicial Police – there were reported 27 cases, an average of at least four frauds a month. In 2022, there were a total of 50 cases in the entire year.

Tips to avoid scams when selling or buying a car

Experts in the field of vehicle buying and selling provided advice to prevent fraud and ensure a secure transaction in light of these concerning occurrences.

If you are looking to buy:

Always suspect that if the vehicle is below the market value, it can be a stolen or false (as in doctored paperwork)
Strangely low mileage. A mechanic needs to conduct an assessment to determine if the odometer has been altered
Never give money to reserve the vehicle without seeing it first and without checking the documentation in the vehicle registry to see if there is any lien, tax or is in the name of another person who is not the seller. Here is the link to the national registry.
Review the different car sales platforms, for many times they have different phone numbers and names for the same vehicle being offered

If you are wanting to sell your vehicle:

Do not open links in text messages or emails that take you to the buyer’s bank page (they are ghost pages that steal the person’s information),
Do not receive money in advance for your vehicle if the buyer has not seen the vehicle. nobody buys (pays) for a used car without seeing it first. If they ask for your bank account number to make the deposit, do not give it up until you have personally met the buyer and they have seen the vehicle
Important. All transactions should be made through bank transfers. Do not accept checks or cash, tempting as it might be.
Always do the first showing in a public place or a private place with cameras.


It is wise to take precautions when selling a car, and it is best to go through a reputable dealer/seller to avoid potential fraud. Unfortunately, the current state of insecurity makes it difficult to sell a car without taking precautions.

When you buy a car privately you have no guarantee of what you are buying because the seller does not extend any guarantee, as required by law for a dealer. There is also the aspect that the vehicle has to be transferred immediately, according to the law, and many people do not make those transfers with the intention or the idea of ​​not paying the cost of that transfer traspaso in Spanish).

Keep in mind the old saying: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

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