SAN ANTONIO (Texas News Radio) — The FBI is warning about a spike in virtual kidnapping extortion calls in the Rio Grande Valley.
The bureau said law enforcement has seen a rise in the number of people saying they have fallen for this scam and have been defrauded out of large sums of money. They believe more people have been victimized, but have not reported their cases to police.
The scheme typically involve a person or criminal organization who contacts a victim over the phone and demands money for the return of a kidnapped family member or friend. These criminals often use co-conspirators to convince the victims the threat was legitimate.
However, that person had not really been kidnapped.
Regardless, the crooks usually require a ransom payment be made immediately, usually by wire transfer.
The FBI said these scammers go to great lengths to make the victim feel like they are being watched. Most of these calls are actually coming from outside the United States.
The FBI has these tips to avoid becoming a victim in this scheme:
If you do get a call like this, the FBI has the following tips:
If you have questions about whether a call is legitimate or know anything about these scheming scammers, you are asked to contact your closest FBI office immediately.
The contact numbers for the FBI:
San Antonio (24 Hour): (210) 225-6741
Brownsville: (956) 546-6922
Del Rio: (830) 775-0076
Laredo: (956) 723-4021
McAllen: (956) 984-6300
Austin: (512) 345-1111
Waco: (254) 772-1627
You can also send tips to the FBI website.