HOAXERS working from a prison in Chile to get cash out of random people in Spain by pretending to have kidnapped their relatives have been caught by the police.
After warning last February of the hoax, Spanish National Police officers travelled to Santiago de Chile to work with local authorities, leading to the fall of a group working from a prison in the country. Calls were made from inside the jail while friends and relatives on the outside were in charge of withdrawing the ransoms received.
The fake kidnappers worked by calling random numbers in Spain and perfecting their technique as they went along. They began using vague phrases such as “we have kidnapped one of your relatives” to avoid being caught out. They then demanded cash in exchange for not torturing or killing the person they claimed to have kidnapped.
A total of 162 cases were reported in just two months, and although the majority, 75, were reported in Madrid, people all over Spain fell victim to the hoax including one woman in Malaga who was led on a ‘treasure hunt’ across the city in search of funds to save her child, unaware that the child was safely at home.
Yet the hoaxers only managed to get money out of 14 people, who paid approximately €11,000 altogether.
Although police believe the culprits have now been caught, citizens are advised to suspect any strange phone calls and inform the authorities immediately.