SAN ANTONIO – Families of missing people who may be desperate for any information that might lead to their loved ones are becoming targets of ransom call scams, according to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
The families often put out flyers and post on social media. The posts usually describe the missing person and a way to contact the family, leaving them vulnerable to scammers.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says his office has reports of families of missing people being targeted. He says crooks will take advantage of people’s pain, describe what the missing person looks like, and contact the families directly using the information found on flyers or social media posts.
Mariesol Beneavidez’s nephew was reported missing in January and found in April. She said she was a victim of these types of calls during that time.
“You’re feeding off my pain to try and gain something for yourself. What kind of person does that’s disturbing and disgusting?” she said.
Often, the scammers threaten to do harm or even return the person for a price but actually have nothing to do with the person’s disappearance, BCSO said.
“Obviously, to a family that’s very confused, it’s a chaotic time. Obviously, they’re desperate to get their loved one. They may be tempted to pay something like that,” Salazar said. “What we would recommend to anybody is don’t give in to the temptation. Chances are it’s going to be a fraudulent deal, and your best bet is to contact law enforcement.”
Unfortunately, it’s hard to catch these types of criminals because they can be based anywhere, according to Salazar. Anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of these types of calls or messages should save all documentation so law enforcement can review it.