Four Charged With "Virtual Kidnappings," Accused of Using Telemarketing Tactics to Claim Relatives Trying to Migrate Illegally to the US Were Kidnapped

Called numbers in San Diego and Washington DC area randomly


Four people have been charged in a scheme that used telemarketing tactics to shake down immigrants for ransom money under the guise that loved ones had been kidnapped, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.

In reality, no one had been snatched and the callers didn't even know who they were dialing.

But in a small percentage of successes since 2007, the "virtual kidnappers" collected at least $500,000, federal investigators said.