Costa Rica fraud arrest linked to former operator

The respected English language newspaper AM Costa Rica has speculated that the 36-year-old American arrested in the region this week on 450 charges of fraud is believed to be Jeff Pearson, alleged by various online gambling forums to be a former online casino operator with a shady reputation.

Acting on a US warrant, local police picked the US citizen up this week on suspicion of multiple charges of fraud involving eight other persons in the South American nation who are alleged to been behind a string of scams that gleaned some $13 million from customers in the United States. The products offered for sale ranged from franchises to sell coffee, health insurance and what was called energy products, said investigators.

The call centre employees used voice-over-Internet protocol and U.S. mail drops to disguise the fact they were based in Costa Rica, according to the Judicial Investigating Organisation. The call centre was based in Escazú and later in Office Centro la Sabana.

An agency spokesperson said that the operation had been going on for at least four years and that the suspect arrested Tuesday faced 450 separate cases.

AM Costa Rica reported that the Judicial Investigating Organisation did not release a name, but the suspect is believed to be one Jeff Pearson. The man was detained in Santa Ana where he was travelling with bodyguards, and investigators later searched his luxury home, where they confiscated evidence that will be sent to the United States.

Pearson was last in the news in April 2006 when A.M. Costa Rica reported on a coffee franchise sales deal that used voice-over-Internet protocol and U.S. mail drops. He is also believed to be the same Jeff Pearson who was involved with the unsuccessful Internet gambling operation Lucky's Casino in the late 'nineties, the sportsbetting information site Major Wager reported.

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