Costa Rica Extradites Three from Spain in ‘5Dimes Tony’ Kidnapping Case

Updated: April 27th, 2019 by Haley Hintze

One of the stranger and darker tails to mar the fringes of the online sports-betting world continues to churn out new details and developments, as Costa Rican authorities announced on Friday that three people have been extradited from Spain to face charges in the kidnapping-for-ransom and disappearance of William Sean Creighton Kopko, the owner of the “grey market” site 5Dimes, which offers online sports betting to a largely US-based audience.

Among the three people who were arrested by Spanish authorities in January and returned to Costa Rica this week was a 25-year-old computer engineer surnamed Morales Vega, who was directly tied to the online Bitcoin wallet into which a large ransom payment was sent. Morales Vega, his long-term girlfriend, and his mother were all charged with being part of the ransom scheme, with the three apparently having fled from Costa Rica to Spain as the criminal plot began to unravel.

Costa Rican authorities conducted at least 10 raids themselves in January, arresting one woman and eight men, including two traffic officers who were accomplices in the crime. Morales Vega and the other two were arrested during a simultaneous raid conducted in Spain.

5Dimes Tony’s pricey Porsche Cayenne was intentionally crashed at a site far removed from where his kidnapping last September was believed to have occurred.

Creighton, who was long known in the Caribbean sports-betting industry as “5Dimes Tony”, was kidnapped last September 24 after dropping off an employee of his firm at the employee’s home, then continuing on toward his own residence, which he never reached. Creighton often traveled with a bodyguard, but did not on that fateful evening, and his easily recognized Porsche Cayenne — an expensive SUV which would have stood out in Costa Rica, was pulled over by the two Costa Rica Transit officers, who were among 12 people later charged in Creighton’s disappearance.

Once Creighton’s car had been stopped, four more men who were part of the scheme arrived in a pickup truck, then are believed to have held him at another house in Costa Rica as they issued ransom demands to 5Dimes and to Creighton’s family. Though a US citizen himself, Creighton was a long-term expat with a Costa Rican wife, and he was unlikely to have returned to the States, where he might have been the subject of a secret arrest warrant regarding his company’s US-facing operations.

The kidnapping of Creighton was believed to be, at least in part an inside job. Numerous reports emerging from Spanish-language news outlets in Costa Rica reported as much, as well as relaying various tips that the kidnappers had sought $500,000 or $750,000 from Creighton’s family or company, to be paid anonymous online via Bitcoin.

Those rumors were at least partly true, though the numbers were under-estimated. Instead of a half a million American, the criminal group sought up to five million dollars, as told to La Nacion by an unnamed official of Costa Rica’s primary investigative agency, the OIJ (Organismo de Investigación Judicial), in January. A million dollars’ worth of Bitcoin were indeed sent to the kidnappers soon after Creighton’s disappearance, but he was never released, and he remains officially missing. The sad truth is that the site’s owner was almost certainly killed soon after the kidnapping. Some news reports even claimed that his body had been found in early October, but those reports were later recanted.

The OIJ investigators not only linked a computer belonging to Morales Vega to the online Bitcoin wallet — they have not stated whether they also recovered any Bitcoin from that wallet — they also obtained Morales Vega’s fingerprint from the same tied-in computer. Given the depth of the details already known and published, the OIJ had long known who was responsible for the kidnapping and how the event occurred.

5Dimes is not widely known to most European bettors, as the company has generally withdrawn from the Euro sector as countries enacted regulatory regimes. However, the kidnapping and disappearance of “5Dimes Tony” remains a notorious and even cautionary tale. Certain types of high-risk online sites mean more than just increased risk to the online bettor; as this sad story has illustrated, that risk also is increased for the operators and owners of such sites.

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