Phone Extortion Scam Alert

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide Division is issuing a warning to the public about a recent rash of phone scams involving a threat that a family member is being held hostage, and will not be released until the victim’s family wires money.

The victims are contacted by a suspect who states they are holding a family member hostage. The caller then demands money to be wired, or they will kill or hurt the hostage. The suspect advises the victim to go to an ATM to withdraw money, and then send the money via wire services. Other variations of the extortion include the caller contacting miscellaneous businesses for “Protection Money.” The phone calls are originating from Mexico.

Below are crime prevention tips to avoid falling victim of this scam:

Incoming calls made from an outside area code or Country.
Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line.
Calls do not come from the victim’s phone.
Callers try to prevent you from contacting the “Kidnapped” victim.
Multiple successive phone calls.
Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer.
Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.
Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to someone you do not know.

Anyone with information or questions regarding this crime is asked to contact Detectives Orlando Martinez or Freddy Arroyo, at Robbery-Homicide Division, (213) 486-6840. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

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