It was last friday when my Mom received a call about my sister being kidnapped. She was spending the afternoon at my grandparents’ house in Mexico City. The phone rang. “Mom I’ve been kidnapped,” said a girl on the other side of the phone. Next, a guy said “We have your daughter with us, you better call me from a cell phone now to tell you what you have to do next. Get all the money you have and call this number. Do not hang up until you call.”
My mom was a victim of an “extortion call,” a random call from “kidnappers” who say they have a family member kidnapped but it’s never true. She said she was sure that voice was my sister’s voice, yet the nerves and mixed feelings got her confused. She was so frightened that she did what the kidnapper told her to do.
My grandparents had close to $600 cash in their house. My mom had an extra $200 in her wallet because she had just gone to the ATM. She got in my car with the kidnapper calling to my grandma’s cell phone and drove away alone. As she was leaving, one of my aunts tried to get in the car with her, but my mom refused. No one knew where she was heading.
A few minutes later I got a text message from my aunt asking for my license plates. I gave it to her worried that something had happened. Just minutes later my cell phone rang. It was my aunt telling me what had occurred. I was working in my office when she explained that my sister was fine but my mom had left by herself somewhere in Mexico City. No one knew where she could be or where she headed. She left with my grandma’s cell phone which was being used to talk to the kidnapper. There was no way to get in contact with her.
My sister left work and went to my grandma’s house, where another uncle arrived to try to calm the situation. My dad was sending text messages and calls to my grandma’s phone but my mom couldn’t answer because the kidnapper didn’t allowed her to get off the phone.
While all of this was happening, I told my boss about the situation and offer all the help. I told her that I’d rather stay and try to do something from the office. We called the authorities gave them the license plates and brand of my car and told them to please find my mom. I knew it was like finding a needle in a haystack since Mexico City’s population is more than 20 million.
Everyone was trying to reach my mom with no luck.
Two hours had passed since she left when a message was received in our family’s Whats App group. “I got in contact with her. She is fine. She’s going to your grandma’s,” my dad wrote. My body was filled with joy. I was happy she was going back, although I didn’t know if she was OK.
i spoke to her when she got back to my grandpas’ house. She sounded scared. I asked her if they had done anything to her, she said she was fine. “They told me to deposit the money in a bank account,” she said. “How much?,” I asked. “I don’t know. Maybe $800”, she replied.
The kidnappers had gotten what they wanted: they got the money and they got to scare my mom and my family. We all experienced mixed feelings: joy, courage, fear and happiness.
Later, my mom told me that it was because the battery was dying that she told the kidnappers the call was going to be cut off. She hanged up and my dad’s call came in. My mom was relieved to know that my sister was fine.
In Mexico it is very common to get these types of extortion calls. Authorities have revealed that most calls are done inside the prisons. There is no control of this kind of crime and it is almost impossible to detain these criminals.
According to Mexico Denuncia, there are more than 900 criminal bands that make these types of extortions just in Mexico City. Close to 6,000 calls are made each day. Nearly 30% of the victims pay what they are told to pay.
Although the federal government made a campaign to inform the population about these calls, today there are people who still believe their family member is being kidnapped just like my mom.