Fresno Sheriff warns of ‘ongoing and widespread’ extortion attempts

Crime
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Fresno County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating what they call an “ongoing and widespread” scam to extort victims.

On Tuesday, dispatch received a call for service from a Fresno woman who said someone attempted to kidnap her daughter, the office announced in a news release on Wednesday.

The mother of four explained a man who identified himself as Pedro called her and said in Spanish that he had kidnapped her daughter from a bus stop.

He went on to say that if she wanted her daughter back safe, that she would need to wire transfer $500 to him.

Detectives say the phone number originated out of Mexico and began with 5-2, followed by 10 digits.

The woman became concerned, detectives say, and called her husband, who told her that he picked up one of kids from school and she was safe.

Deputies responded and learned of two schools the three other girls attend and learned all three girls remained safe at their schools.

Pedro later called back and a deputy who remained at the home answered the phone. He identified himself as law enforcement, which caused Pedro to curse at the deputy and hang up on
him.

Deputies tried to call back the number, but were unable to get through.

Sheriff’s office detectives offer tips for victims to determine if a kidnapping threat is credible:

  • Do not rush to send money.
  • Do not reveal personal information such as names, locations, etc.
  • Ask the caller questions that a stranger would not know.
  • Attempt to contact a friend, relative or the potential victim to see if everything is OK.

If you receive a similar call, detectives advise to do the following:

  • Document any information, such as the caller’s name or phone number and report it to the law enforcement agency overseeing your jurisdiction.
  • If it’s determined to be a scam, you may also utilize the sheriff’s office online reporting system.
  • You may also make a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

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