POLICE in Spain are warning of an increase in fake kidnappings carried out over the phone by people in jail in South America.
Although at least 16 cases have been reported over the last month, police say there could be many more who have fallen for the scam but are too embarrassed to report it.
The scammers, who investigators believe work from mobile phones in South-American jails, dial random Spanish numbers and immediately state they belong to an organised group of kidnappers who have captured the person’s child or grandchild.
Captain Montero, head of the Guardia Civil’s Kidnapping and Extortions group, explained that if the person says they don’t have children or grandchildren the callers simply hang up and keep dialling numbers at random until someone takes the bait.
As soon as a family member’s name is mentioned, another scammer in the background cries out for help and pleads for money to be sent to save their life.
Although the scammers begin by demanding amounts between €5,000 and €10,000, these are quickly reduced if necessary and bank transfers demanded.
Captain Montero urged anyone who receives a call of this type to immediately contact the police while attempting to find out where the allegedly kidnapped relative is, and not to rush to hand money over.
The Guardia Civil can be contacted on 062, and the National Police force on 091.