CALEXICO, Calif. – Over Labor Day weekend, several families received calls saying a family member was kidnapped.
“Six incidents regarding virtual kidnapping,” Calexico Police Detective Albert Llanas said.
The callers demanded money for the safe return of their loved one.
“In these cases a lot of family members were out of town or on the road. So family members were not able to contact their family,” Llanas said.
The calls seemed real to the families even though it was part of a scam.
“They made these phone calls, told family members that they were going to cut off body parts. And they would have somebody in the background screaming, yelling for help,” Llanas said.
In one case police said the scammers told the victim that they knew they were trying to reach out to the alleged missing person.
“So they had knowledge that somebody was trying to call a phone,” Llanas said.
“One victim crossed to Mexicali to make the payment, but authorities were able to contact him and stop him before he sent the money.
He was told to go to a bank, but unknown if it was open because it was late at night, and to wire money, that’s when Mexicali P.D. stepped in to assist.
“We then contacted the Mexicali P.D. just to safety check on the victim and they assisted us in transporting the victim to the port of entry,” Llanas said.
But police said another victim fell for the scam and sent money.
Police said it’s hard to trace the calls which they say come from Mexico.
“They come out private. They come out with the victim’s name and phone number,” Llanas said.
In these cases, all the families are safe.
“Take these calls seriously but contact the police before you do anything,” Llanas said.