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FBI El Paso Warns of Kidnapping, Virtual Kidnapping

EL PASO, Texas -- The FBI of El Paso warns the public of an increase in kidnapping and virtual kidnapping extortion.

According to the FBI El Paso Field Office, they continue to see an increase in these crimes over the last year. 

The agency is offering advice so that El Pasoans do not fall victim to these scams.

According to the FBI of El Paso, virtual kidnapping for ransom and traditional kidnappings are crimes they investigate the most. 

Experts say that many times victims do not report the scam because they are afraid that agents will ask for their immigration status - they are afraid they will be deported. 

The agency says that anyone can become a victim of these crimes, regardless of age. 

Officials also say that perpetrators use tactics such as fear and panic in an effort to quickly obtain ransom money from worried loved ones.

“Innocent victims are tricked into believing that their loved ones are in danger and the hopelessness that they feel as they scramble to secure what they think will lead to their ultimate release,”  Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey said. 

To avoid becoming a victim, the FBI offers the following tips:

▪ Calls are usually made from an outside or non-U.S. area code

▪ Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone

▪ Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer, cryptocurrency or Peer 2 Peer

If you receive this type of phone call:

▪ Stay Calm.

▪ Try to slow the situation down.

▪ Avoid sharing information about you or your family during the call

▪ Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”

▪ Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.

Officials encourage victims to call 911.  If you have any questions about whether the call is a virtual kidnapping or a legitimate kidnapping, contact FBI El Paso at 915-832-5000.

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Rosemary Montañez

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