Extortion calls and virtual kidnapping in Mexico

It would be ideal to increase the requirements to purchase cellphones

Extortion calls and virtual kidnapping in Mexico
In Mexico, the majority of extortion calls are made from prison, although inmates should not have access to cellphones - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 07/01/2020 09:29 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:29
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Extortion reached its peak a few years ago, then decreased but in recent months, it seems to have regained strength. Numbers released by the National Information Center show that up until September 2019, this crime had increased by 29.6%, in contrast with September 2018. During the first six months of 2019, authorities identified at least 11,960 phone numbers that are used to extort.

In December 2019, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo revealed that authorities had registered 33 million extortion cases, however, 93.2% weren’t reported.

Extortionists don’t use physical violence, instead, they use threats, intimidation, and psychological violence. These criminals surprise their victims and lead them to think that they have kidnapped a family member or that they are harming a loved one.

Extortion is on the rise

In Mexico City, criminals are targeting the elderly. According to the Mexico City Citizen Council, older persons are monitored and criminals learn their routines. Moreover, this is a sector that doesn’t know how to handle the fear generated by these phone calls.

On November 6, journalist Héctor de Mauleón shared a case that confirms the new modus operandi used by extortionists. They get in touch with people between 70 and 80 years and make them believe that one of the children has been kidnapped, criminals force the elderly person to go to a certain location where they will give the extortionists money, jewelry, and even cars.

For a long time, authorities said that extortion calls were made form prison and allocated money to purchase devices that blocked inmates from making phone calls. With the increase of these crimes, it has been revealed that these phone calls are being made outside prisons because it is quite easy to buy cellphones and SIM cards that leave no trace.

Migrants experience extortion, kidnappings, and rape in Mexico

It would be ideal to increase the requirements to purchase cellphones and to register each one. Also, authorities should monitor the situation at prisons and confirm if they, once again, became the center of extortion calls and investigate the trafficking of personal data since those who have reported this crime say that the criminals know confidential information.

Extortion, especially extortion phone calls, is a crime that was allowed to increase even when it could be eradicated through prevention campaigns, as well as with the use of technology. Who is ignoring this crime?

Colombian extortionists operate in Mexico

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