UPDATE: ‘International con artist’ quickly released after arrest in Puerto Viejo on fraud charge

January 7, 2017
2 Comments

UPDATE Friday Jan. 6 at 2:46 p.m.: 

Following his arrest Tuesday morning in Puerto Viejo, Danish national Youssef Khater was quickly released by Costa Rican authorities, according to multiple officials. A spokeswoman for the National Police Force confirmed in a phone call to The Tico Times that Khater is free again after his short-lived detainment but said the police were not responsible for his release and that responsibility falls on the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).

A spokesman from the OIJ press team told The Tico Times that local investigators received numerous calls from Puerto Viejo residents in the days leading up to Khater’s arrest. When those investigators called Interpol to see if he was wanted, Interpol agents told them Khater’s record was clean. Though he has a pending charge for fraud stemming from a 2012 complaint, the OIJ spokesman said that Khater is presenting himself to the appropriate authorities for hearings and trials regarding the charge, and said therefore that OIJ had no reason to hold him.

Neither spokespeople from OIJ nor the National Police Force could confirm exactly when or why Khater was set free again, both saying that the exact details of his release were the responsibility of the other institution.

The Tico Times was made aware of his release in an email tip Thursday by a woman claiming to have seen Khater on a bus from San José back to Puerto Viejo. The woman claims Khater was talking to a Swedish woman traveling alone while the two were located in the seats in front of her. The tipster said she warned the lone traveler about media reports she had seen of Khater.

Original story continues here:

Ever since notorious U.S. fraudster Robert Vesco bought amnesty in Costa Rica, the country has seen a long line of international fugitives follow in his footsteps and make their way across Costa Rican borders.

A Danish man once described in a Texas Monthly exposé as an “international con artist” was the latest wanted criminal to be arrested when the National Police Force and Tourism Police detained him Tuesday in Puerto Viejo, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, on accusations of fraud.

Youssef Khater, a Danish expat of Lebanese origin who has been living in Costa Rica since at least 2014, was quickly placed in preventive prison in Limón, per the police report.

According to a 2014 article from Spanish-language daily Diario Extra, Khater was wanted for defrauding Canadian expat Marie Taylor in the amount of $18,000 in Quepos after meeting her at a local race. He had reportedly defrauded a second foreign athlete of thousands of dollars more.

An avid marathoner, Khater is shown in Facebook photos competing in races across Costa Rica.

Journalist Francesca Mari’s reporting for the Texas Monthly detailed a horrifying account of Khater burying 23-year-old Callie Quinn alive in Chile in 2011. Fortunately, Quinn escaped and Khater was eventually imprisoned in the Chilean capital of Santiago for attempted murder, according to the account. After Khater was released and sometime later fled to Costa Rica, Quinn would come to find out that the man who tried to kill her had a long, checkered past.

“Callie discovered that her attacker, Youssef Khater, had befriended and conned sportspeople and expats around the world — in Denmark, Brazil, and Chile,” wrote Mari in a story published by Texas Monthly on Dec. 18, 2015. “He had nearly clobbered a London runner to death. And in his home country, he’d even convinced some 50 people to wire him thousands of dollars, telling them that they were booking tickets for a trip to a ‘sports city’ in Dubai owned by a prince. He also seduced many kind, generous, and smart women along the way.”

A Facebook user in local expat groups posted warnings about Khater Tuesday morning shortly before his capture in Puerto Viejo, attempting to deter people from confronting or befriending the “true psychopath.” In messages exchanged with The Tico Times, the poster said she did not have any personal dealings with Khater but had come across the story on the Internet.

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