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Advice on preventing telephone extortion

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

René Urrutia, the district attorney in zone D, which includes San Miguel, talked to Atención about a new form of telephone extortion reported in the city and gave advice so people can avoid the emotional and economic damages that can result from this crime. According to Urritia, telephone extortion is one of the most frequently perpetrated felonies in the country.

The district attorney said that the victims receive calls from strangers, who engage them in a conversation in order to obtain personal information, which is later used to intimidate them. The statistics on this crime, said Urrutia, are very unstable; the only consistency is that the tactics used for extortion evolve day by day, and it is growing because of a lack of caution and denouncement by victims. “Once, criminals called a man and made him believe that his son had been kidnapped and persuaded him to make a deposit in the bank as ransom. Later, he realized that he had not even tried to locate his son, who had been in his bedroom doing homework,” said Urrutia.

The public servant mentioned that in San Miguel would-be extortionists called the reception desk at a hotel and asked to talk with one of the guests. Fortunately, the victims and employees of the hotel asked for help from the district attorney’s office (Ministerio Público) and the situation was resolved.

In the case of hotels, before transferring a call to a guest employees should make certain that the call is expected and that the guest knows the person who is calling. If there is any suspicion of extortion, one should hang up immediately and report the case by calling the emergency number 086 or 01800 DENUNCIA, or register a complaint directly at the Ministerio Público office.

How do the criminals operate?

They call the victim and make him or her believe they will break into the house or abduct or harm a family member. They tell the victim to leave the house and stay at a hotel, and not to answer the telephone or communicate with anyone. Once the victim has been isolated, the extortionists call a member of the family and tell them that they have kidnapped the person staying at a hotel and demand money, which must be deposited into a bank account in order to secure the release of their loved one. In some cases, the victims have denounced the crimes and thanks to help from the police the victims were located and the bank deposit avoided.

Preventive measures

Do not provide personal information to a stranger over the telephone. It helps to have caller ID. If the criminals call and say that the owner of the landline or cell phone number filed a complaint against some criminal, hang up. If someone calls asking for money to release a relative kidnapped at the border, hang up. Talk with your family members and make an action plan in case of one of these kinds of calls occurs.

The district attorney also talked about the criminals arrested following the residential burglary on October 20 in fraccionamiento El Paraiso. Urrutia said that the police officers arrested five people who had in their possession some electronics stolen from the house and sent them to the district attorney’s office, where the investigation started. However, because the criminals were not caught inside the house committing the crime, and because the new oral trial system states that everyone is innocent until proven to be guilty, they were not incarcerated and were released on bail.  He made it clear that they have to present themselves at the Ministerio Público every time they are called. He said that the alleged thieves are from Celaya, and that the investigation has shown that they will not flee from justice because they have strong ties to their community. Urrutia remarked that the previous investigation must be finished in at least two months and that with this type of crime if the criminals are found guilty they must be incarcerated.


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