SANTA ROSA — A telephone scam has been making the rounds in this area, including at least three calls to Guadalupe County residents, according to Sheriff Lorenzo Mata.
On March 3, Mata said two people in Anton Chico and another in Santa Rosa received phone calls in which the caller identified himself as a “drug dealer” and said they had their daughter and would kill her unless they paid them up to $5,000. A screaming female voice could be heard in the background as the caller demanded money.
Mata said one of the horrified victims wired $200 as instructed before realizing it was a scam, while another exposed the scam by asking the caller for details his daughter would have readily known if she was indeed there.
The telephone scam has been around a while, but recently made the rounds, both here and in the eastern side of the state. The Eastern New Mexico News reported recently on a couple of bogus ransom attempts in Roosevelt and Curry counties.
The Los Angeles Times reported on similar calls making the rounds last December and interviewed a special agent for the FBI, Erik Arbuthnot, who said this sort of “virtual kidnapping for ransom” is typically the work of inmates in foreign prisons.
The FBI advises that if you get this kind of call, hang up and track down your loved one. In the unlikely event it’s a real kidnapping, they’ll call back, Arbuthnot said, but the number of real kidnappings pale in comparison to the number of fake ones.