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Kidnapping/Medical Extortion Telephone Scams
It all starts with a phone call, with the caller ID identifying as a loved one, calling in distress. Then another voice gets on the line, says your loved one has been kidnapped, and demands money. This is what is called “Virtual kidnapping,” and it has been recurring a lot, mainly to the elite and wealthy.
The caller terrifies the victim into believing that they have their son or daughter with them by hearing crying sounds, calling for help. Then, instantly the voice is gone and is replaced with a man, threatening to kill the hostage. He then continues giving precise instructions, either to drive straight to the bank, go inside, and withdraw money, or to make an online transaction. The call is so believable that the victim rushes to the bank or goes online and wires the money to the man on the other end of the phone. Once the money is transferred, the victim finds out that their loved one is safe and the phone call was just a hoax.

These calls are a part of an elaborate scheme that targets the wealthy area codes in the United States. According to the F.B.I., versions of these schemes have been around for about a decade. Astonishingly, agents made a discovery in recent years that while looking through victims’ phone records, they found that, for the most part, calls made to people across Beverly Hills were coming in from prisoners in foreign countries, mostly in Mexico. These prisoners seek to make money fast and as much possible, targeting these area codes which lead them to rich individuals. There have been thousands of phone calls like these over the past few years. These calls targeted Spanish speakers in the Los Angeles and Houston areas originally, but they have expanded to other U.S. cities as well.
Inmates in Mexico City were aired by the Mexican Broadcast Network through undercover video, showing how these calls were made inside one of Mexico’s prisons. The inmates were casually making phone calls from smuggled phones, right out in the open, hoping to strike it rich with these calls. They typically bribe guards to acquire cell phones, usually choosing an affluent area like Beverly Hills, California. Social media has also made it easier for scammers to find out useful personal information about their victims and the victim’s relatives and friends.
You can read more of this article in our Fall 2022 Issue of ModelsMania


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