Choosing a Private Investigator in Costa Rica
After receiving numerous inquiries on how to best select a private investigator in Costa Rica, this article was written to assist those who are seeking such services. Understanding that Costa Rica is an area that is ripe with relocated ’con artist’ from the United States, as well as a paradise for infidelity,it is a good idea that you hire an investigator that will deliver professional and reliable results.
First, make sure that the investigator you are speaking with has an office and business telephone. Many of the investigators listed on the web are not in Costa Rica and merely “farm out” the work to locals with little or no oversight. Others simply work out of their homes and also employ less than reliable people to do the actual work. If in Costa Rica ask the investigator if you can visit them at their office. If they decline or ask you to meet them in a more public spot such as a restaurant, it is probably because they have no office.
If the only telephone number available is a cell phone (in Costa Rica all cell phones begin with the #8)then they are probably a “hobbyist” and are not professional investigators.In the alternative if they do not have a Costa Rican cell phone this is another indication of no presence in Costa Rica.
If the matter you are having investigated will ultimately require testimony in the United States, inquire as to the availability of the investigator travelling to the jurisdiction to testify. If they are unable to travel to the jurisdiction to testify, the information and/or evidence they discover is of little or no value.Since there is no licensing authority in Costa Rica for private investigators it is important for you to know if the investigator has a criminal history either in Costa Rica or the United States.(This includes any agents or employees the investigator may use)
Check their credentials. If they list education or experience on their website and there is no substantive information concerning the education or experience, inquire as to where and when they obtained such qualifications. For example, if the web site indicates both investigations and security services it is usually one more than the other. Investigative skills and security skills are uniquely different and require vastly different education and training. Usually security people have military backgrounds whereas investigators have law enforcement backgrounds.
Secondly, beware of investigators who say they have “special connections” with the government or police in Costa Rica. The United States Code(Chapter 15) has a statute (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FPCA) that prohibits any American citizen paying bribes or other consideration to influence a government or private officials to provide information not authorized by the laws of the foreign government. This is especially true for such information such as telephone and bank records.
Thirdly, if your particular inquiry involves a domestic issue, beware of investigators who use only one man surveillance teams. Experience investigators know that to be effective with surveillance, the target does not need to see the same face or car twice. Costa Rica is a small country, the people who live there are very observant, and that kind of activity is sure to call attention to any surveillance that is taking place. Also, experienced investigators know there is no such thing as a predetermined amount of time that will be required to conduct a successful sureveillance. Investigators who quote low rates are usually outsourcing the surveillance or do not have the experience to do a professional surveillance. A solid surveillance will have a tremendous amount of prep work prior to beginning the surveillance. The more prep work that is done prior to the surveillance will ultimately lower the overall costs of a surveillance. Regardless, it should be kept in mind that ALL surveillances are expensive.
Lastly, make sure that the investigator has a method to provide you with an accounting of his time and expenses. If a retainer is required make sure that the investigator is not authorized to exceed that amount without your prior consent. An accounting of activities and expenses should be a good indicator of whether to proceed or not. Usually, professional investigators with an office have no problem providing you with such an accounting. We randomly checked the Costa Rica listings and only one agency met all of the criteria listed above. His name is Cody L. Gear and has an office in Escazu which is a suburb of San Jose. All the others we attempted to contacted were not in Costa Rica or operated out of their homes. None had the verifiable education or experience of Gear.
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