FBI: Fake kidnapping scams on the rise in New Mexico

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Federal agency has tips for residents who receive calls from ransom, which usually originate in Mexico

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The FBI is urging New Mexicans not to fall for a scam that involves someone calling to say a relative has been kidnapped and will be harmed unless a ransom is paid.

Federal agents in New Mexico have come across recent instances of this type of crime known as “virtual kidnapping.” The calls usually originate in Mexico and the criminals rely on surprise, deception and threats to coerce their victims into sending money fast. Sometimes, they might even put a second person on the line to pretend her or she is the kidnapped subject, the FBI said.

If you’re getting one of these calls, the agency has several tips for your safety and peace of mind.

“Try to slow the situation down. The success of any type of virtual kidnapping scheme depends on speed and fear. Criminals know they only have a short time to exact a ransom before the victims unravel the scam or authorities become involved,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency recommends that you attempt to contact the alleged victim via phone, text, or social media, and request that they call back from their cellphone to make sure he or she is OK. You may also want to contact family members to determine if they have been called as well.

If the caller is making up a story, don’t disclose any identifying information such as your loved one’s name that could help them build on the lie.

If you don’t know for sure if a loved one is really being held captive by criminals, request to speak to him or her. If the criminals put the alleged victim on the line, ask questions only your relative would know, such as the name of a pet. Also, listen carefully to the voice to see if you recognize it or if it’s a total stranger.

The FBI recommends you don’t agree to meet the caller in person because that could put you in danger.

If you suspect a real kidnapping is taking place or you believe a ransom demand is a scheme the FBI in New Mexico is urging you to immediately contact the Albuquerque FBI Division at (505) 889-1300 or your local law enforcement.

The FBI urges victims of this telephone scam to not only call immediately but encourages those who may know the criminals to submit a tip online. All tipsters may remain anonymous.

For more information about this scam, visit the FBI’s website.

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