Espanola, N.M. (KFDA) - New Mexico State police have become aware of recent virtual kidnapping phone scams in the northern New Mexico area.
These scams involve a victim being told their family member has been kidnapped and the caller demanding a ransom.
Scammers are instructing victims to make money transfers from Food King, Wal-Mart and El Paisano, all located in Espanola.
Virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone, instead, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart.
NMSP say virtual kidnappers often pose as law enforcement, instruct the victim to keep them on speaker phone and not hang up.
If you receive one of these calls, which usually originate in Mexico, try to contact the alleged victim, and request they call back from their cell phone. Do not disclose your loved one’s name or provide any identifying information.
If you suspect a real kidnapping is taking place or you believe a ransom demand is a scheme, immediately contact the New Mexico State Police or call 911.
Try to slow the situation down. Criminals know they only have a short time to exact a ransom before the victims unravel the scam or authorities become involved.
Request to speak to your family member directly. Ask “How do I know my loved one is okay?” Ask questions only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as the name of a pet.
Avoid sharing information about yourself or your family. Do not agree to meet the caller in person.
Attempt to record the calls by using someone else’s phone. Keep a log of the times of the calls, the amounts, and take down as much information as possible to assist authorities in investigations if it turns out to be a real kidnapping situation.