Four out of ten extortion complaints in Costa Rica are ‘sextortion’

QCOSTARICA (Nacion.com) Four out of ten extortion complaints filed with the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), San José headquarters, in the first half of 2022, stemmed from victims seeking sexual services on the Internet , without imagining that entering such a site can become a showcase for crime.

Victims are extorted after sharing intimate photos or videos. Image for reference only

Between January and June this year, the OIJ recorded 444 cases of extortion, including 215 for “gota a gota” loans. (loans of small amounts at high interest rates to individuals and business owners who have difficulty 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’s various crimes section, said that with the pandemic, the cases they are dealing with have increased and that they fear that in just six months, they have such a high figure if taken into account, in the whole of last year 666 complaints were filed (300 for gota a gota loans, 270 for sextortion and 96 for simple extortion).

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“We have a fairly considerable increase and although we have tackled this problem on different fronts, the most important thing in these situations is that the population reports them, so we invite them to deal with their complaints if at any time they fall into the networks of organizations,” Ramirez said.

The police chief explained each of the methods as follows:

  • Gota a Gota ready: A person contracts an informal loan, without papers, without guarantors and at a certain moment the collections begin to be made under the threat, either of death, or of physical aggression, or of violence towards the relatives of the offended person.
  • sextortion: In this case, the victim enters a sexual services website, she initiates an interaction and after sharing intimate photos or videos that are extorted from her, the criminals demand excessive payments in exchange for not spreading the material.
  • Simple extortion: In this category is the modality known as “protection money”, which occurs in some communities where traders pay organizations in exchange for not being robbed or having security. Likewise, there are couple conflicts in which one of the people 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 receive threatening messages, where they demand payment for not disclosing any recordings or images.
Sextortion is one of the most disturbing new scams to emerge in recent years. In 2021, there were 300 files filed with the OIJ, in the first half of 2022, there were 169 files. Image for reference only.

Recommendations

Faced with the increase in complaints, the OIJ recommends, in addition to the complaint, to avoid taking loans informally and, if you start to receive threats, not to pay and immediately turn to the authorities.

In the case of websites that offer sexual services, Ramírez says be aware 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 don’t do it out of shame or fear, but there are cases where the extortion goes on for a long time, which is why filing a complaint is vital.

Finally, in the face of other types of extortion, he asks not to give money under any circumstances and to file a complaint.

Translated from Nacion.com, “Cuatro de cada diez denuncias de extorsión se derivan de búsqueda de servicios sexuales”. Read the original here.

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