(CBS) — A Highland Park couple that has made more than a dozen trips to Costa Rica to look for their son who disappeared four years ago has been targeted by extortionists.

“It’s really bad because you’re trying to do something which might save your son, and it’s really a distraction,” says Roma Gimelfarb.

He’s the father of David Gimelfarb, the 28-year-old who vanished in 2009 in Costa Rica.

The parents’ latest trip there to try to find David took a sinister turn.

“We got emails and phone calls from someone who told us that they had David and told us they would release him if we would pay ransom of $250,000,” the elder Gimelfarb tells WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller.

Roma Gimelfarb says they received a photo, but it was too dark to tell if it was their son.

Gimelfarb says the family contacted Costa Rican authorities and that they believe the phone calls came from an extortionist inside a jail.

Police in the Gimelfarbs’ hometown of Highland Park say they’re in touch with Costa Rican police.