False kidnapping calls on the rise in Spain

A FAKE kidnapping scam has been investigated by Spain´s National Police since more than fifty victims registered complaints in February 2016. 

The modus operandi of the scammers was to call families from a concealed number between 4pm and 11pm and demand a ransom of between €1,000 and €10,000 for the release of a relative who was never abducted in the first place. 

Relying on the fact that the alleged kidnapping victim was not present in the family home at the time the call was made, the criminals went as far as to imitate their voice and used phrases such as “Mum, I’ve been kidnapped” and “they are going to kill me” to intimidate the family member and cause them to take the ransom request more seriously.  

The virtual kidnappers are reported to have used strong South American accents and referred to themselves as members of a crime ring to give more credibility to the threats. Many of the targeted victims were from the community of Madrid, but police have also identified several from other parts of Spain. 

To date, only one person from Madrid is said to have paid the demanded ransom, transferring €1,000 to the gang before investigating the abduction claim further.     

The latest wave of calls follows the same pattern as a scam detected in January 2015, when National Police tracked down gang members in Santiago de Chile during a joint operation with the Chilean authorities. 

Since then, the Spanish police has released guidelines through traditional and social media channels, designed to raise awareness of the elaborate scam. Reports confirm this served to reduce the number of fake kidnapping calls significantly, before a different group resumed the activity in recent weeks. 

The National Police are urging anyone receiving similar calls to contact them via 091 before reacting to threats. 

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