Sunday, April 26, 2009

Long-Distance Kidnapping

I hesitate to write this post because I don't have as many of the details as I'd like. Yesterday a friend of mine got a very alarming phone call- someone told her they'd kidnapped her son. And told her to pay 100 reis in credit for a certain cell phone number so they could negotiate his release.

They didn't have him, it was all a lie. They did have someone who pretended to be him, in distress, on the line for a second and it was enough to fool her. What was really strange is that the number was from Rio.

As soon as I got off the phone I told Evani what happened, and she'd already heard about the scam. Apparently these calls are being placed from prisons, by prisoners, to extort money from people. She told me about one person who got a call like this, and then used her other phone (many Brazilians have two or more cell phones with different providers) to call her kid, who was fine. She told the 'kidnappers' she'd get back to them or something similar and hung up.

What disturbs me about this whole thing is that they knew her name, and her kid's name, and obviously knew her number, which I don't think is listed. Unless they got the info off of some social networking site (Orkut is huge here) or something, somebody is feeding them that information.

Just one more scary thing to worry about...


lovelydharma said...

I've heard of this scam too. Our faxineira knows someone in her neighborhood that actually forked over money. It was an older woman too and she ended up hospitalized because she flew into such a panic she had a heart attack.

I've also heard that in another twist, sometimes they call someone's cellphone pretending to be the provider -- "Hi this is Oi calling" and claim that they are doing a service update on the phone and ask that the person turns his/her phone off for an hour while they update the phone software or something like that. Seems reasonable, right?

They then call the family of that person and try to extort money. Because the person has his phone off the family can't reach him and they panic and pay the money.

How are they getting all that personal info though...? That is the creepy part.

Technology + Poverty / Lack of Education = people getting screwed.

AkuTyger said...

This happened to a friend of ours as well, a few years ago, and she sent out a mass email to tell us all about it. What gets me is that this is so old, so well known and yet it still happens and people still fall for it. This is also why I don't use orkut much.

markuza said...

I hadn't realized this scam has been around that long. That business about turning off the phone rings a bell though... Well, I will consider myself forewarned.