FIGURES reveal terrifying telephone scam that has claimed over 1,500 victims in Spain.
The scam, known as the ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam, has been traced to South America by authorities after a number of people have been intercepted going to their banks to deposit large sums of money.
The scheme involves the criminals calling people, apparently at random, and demanding large sums of money by convincing them that a friend or relative has been kidnapped as they demand ransom.
The amount has been known to reach up to €10,000 but often reduced
dramatically down to just €500 according to victims.
Back in January, a 69-year-old from Madrid was the latest victim of the
She was phoned by a man with a foreign sounding accent demanding €10,000 or her daughter’s fingers would be cut off.
The woman, terrified, was stopped as she made her way to the bank with the caller still on the line after her husband alerted the police.
Since 2015, nearly 1,500 cases have been reported according to figures
released by the Interior Ministry, with a peak appearing in 2016, when almost four calls per day were recorded.
The numbers have been falling significantly since with only 104 in 2018 and 136 in 2019.
Authorities in South America, specifically Chile, have traced the source of the calls to predominantly incarcerated prisoners and have so far arrested a further 17 in connection to the extortion scheme.
But Chief Inspector Juan Alcolea, of the National Police’s kidnappings and extortion department has however pointed out the difficulty in investigating such crimes.
“Many people who don’t pay also don’t file a police report,” explained Alcoloa.
He explained that the criminals are often prisoners who have access to mobile phones. They randomly dial numbers hoping to get through to someone.
Police sources have revealed that members of political parties such as the Partido Popular and Government offices have been targeted.
Guardia Civil have urged victims of the calls to under no circumstances go through with the callers demands and to report it to the police immediately.
Banks are also being trained to be more vigilant for anyone depositing large amounts of money to foreign bank accounts looking nervous, on the phone or acting suspiciously.