Virtual kidnappings on the rise

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
In just about every border town, virtual kidnapping runs rampant. Unsuspecting families are called about their loved ones being kidnapped.

For some, it comes when a lost or stolen cell phone is hacked, and the virtual kidnappers get the numbers of your family.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (WOAI) - What would you do if you got a call about a loved one who was in trouble? Like most, you'd want to do everything to help them. It's exactly the feeling people called "virtual kidnappers" hope to exploit.

In just about every border town, virtual kidnapping runs rampant. Unsuspecting families are called about their loved ones being kidnapped. The FBI says the new trend is making it's way here to San Antonio.

"They usually try to target Hispanic families, because they know that these families are likely to have loved ones living in Mexico," explained FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee.

For some, it comes when a lost or stolen cell phone is hacked, and the virtual kidnappers get the numbers of your family.

For other families, like Shirley Owens', they tried a more direct approach. Her mother Beatrice got a call about her distant relative.

"He needs $1,900 to release him out of jail," Shirley told us. "That's weird. Why doesn't he call his family in Mexico?"

It turned out to be a hoax. The caller told Beatrice to wire the money, but Shirley's family figured it out. The FBI says that in most cases, the callers will be persistent and create a sense of urgency.

"They'll usually scream. They'll use profanities. They'll use very vulgar, explicit language, explaining what things they're going to do to the relative, loved one, friend," explained Lee.

Lee says the best thing to do is slow the situation down and use your common sense. Ask for proof of life and listen carefully to the person on the other end of the phone. Also, try to contact that loved one who they say is missing.

Lee told us the more questions you ask, the more likely the criminal will hang up the phone.

Read More at: http://news4sanantonio.com//news/features/featured/stories/virtual-kidnappings-rise-4233.shtml


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