San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Hundreds Lured by U.S. Visa Scam

AT least 100 Costa Ricans fell for promises of a visa to, and work in, the United States for the price of $130, the daily La Nación reported.


A man with the last name Gutiérrez was captured in late November near Atenas, northwest of San José, where he had rented a property to hold a meeting for 101 people, among them residents of Coto Brus, in southern Costa Rica. At the site, authorities seized 120 passports and photocopies of supposed blank labor contracts, the daily reported.


However, Gutiérrez, 45, could not be immediately detained because the Prosecutor’s Office had not begun a case against him. An investigation of the alleged fraud has since been opened.


Witnesses said Gutiérrez offered to process U.S. visas for $130 and $287 for those who had been rejected in the past.


The alleged labor contracts were for eight months, La Nación reported. Gutiérrez said some of the jobs were in New Orleans, helping rebuild the U.S. city after the destructive Hurricane Katrina, and promised people would be paid $4,000 a month.


The U.S. Embassy has repeatedly warned that third parties can never assist someone in getting a visa. Visas can only be received directly from the embassy after qualifying.

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