Virtual Kidnappings

Sunday, November 12, 2017
By Hugh MacArthur

GRA Virtual KidnappingThe Policía Nacional received three reports of virtual kidnapping in just 48 hours within the city of Granada: one on Tuesday the 7th and two the following day.

The calls from the kidnappers came from a mobile with a 56 prefix, meaning that they were made in Chile. In each case the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 10,000 euros for the safe release of a daughter.

Fortunately nobody took the bait but instead contacted the police, because these calls, although not hoaxes, are false kidnappings. The victim’s were never in the clutches of criminals… but their families didn’t know that.

This kind of fraud has never been reported in the province, but since 2015 it has occurred in several places in Spain, either using blocked-number calls or ones with the Chile prefix.

The first victim called says that as she answered the phone she heard a woman crying in the background, sobbing, “I was mugged in the street and now they’ve kidnapped me!” Then a man came on the line demanding a 10,000-euro ransom whilst demanding the bank account information to be able to get the money.

The second victim, an 86-year-old woman, received an even more menacing call. She heard a woman’s voice, allegedly that of her 54-year-old daughter say, “Mum, I’ve been robbed and kidnapped – I don’t want you to suffer.” Then, came the man and the demand for money.

The reason behind the shock tactic of the initial phone call is to take advantage of the nervous state of the person called in order to glean more information about the supposed victim and thus make the ‘kidnapping’ more credible.

Also, pleas heard in the background (They are going to kill me!) keeps the victim on the line and unable to check the real whereabouts of the supposed kidnap victim.

Since this kind of crime has been taking place, the Policía Nacional have launched an online campaign (#NOesREAL) to help prevent people from falling into the trap.

One of the first pieces of advice is don’t pick up calls coming from a 0056 prefix if you’re not expecting one. The same goes for calls coming from a blocked number; i.e., the caller’s number is hidden. Obviously, don’t make any money transfers.

Editorial comment: The trouble is that people in general give away so much personal information on social media; i.e., going on holiday abroad, etc. You wouldn’t stand in the centre of a crowded square and shout that you’re going away on holiday and your house will be empty, or you daughter is travelling alone, so, logically, don’t do it on facebook.

(News: Metropolitan Area, Granada, Andalucia)

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