Don’t be duped by telephone extortionists

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

Extortion via telephone is currently one of the most common felonies in Mexico. The Guanajuato attorney general’s office and Department of Justice have published some preventive measures to help residents avoid becoming victims of this kind of extortion.

According to the attorney general, in the most common form of telephone extortion the caller threatens to attack potential victims’ homes or offices if they do not deposit a certain amount of money into an account.

In some cases, to get personal information from the inhabitants of the house the extortionists pretend to be pollsters from the INEGI or employees of other organizations. Once the extortionists have obtained personal information, which facilitates the criminal act, they call the targets and make them believe there will be an armed attack on their homes. The victims, fearing for their safety, often leave their homes, or at least stop answering the phone or making calls. The criminals take advantage of those situations and call the victims’ relatives, claiming they have kidnapped their relatives and demanding ransom. In some cases, large amounts of money have been deposited, and in the end the victims have discovered that it was an extortion scam. According to the attorney general’s office, when such demands for money have been reported without delay to police, law enforcement officers have found the supposedly “kidnapped” victims and ransom payments have been avoided.

In other situations, the criminals tell their potential victims that they are members of an organized crime group and they know that calls reporting them to the police have been made from the victims’ phones.  In order to prevent retaliation, they claim, the victims must pay them. In other cases, the felons play recordings of women or children crying and claim they have kidnapped a family member.

To help avoid situations like these, be careful about providing information to unknown callers. Caller ID is also a good idea. If a caller claims to have kidnapped a relative and demands money, check on that relative immediately. You can report extortion calls by phoning the toll-free number 01-800-368-6442; trained experts will help you deal with the situation.


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