Extortionists used nearly 12,000 telephone numbers to make an estimated 18,000 calls in the first six months of 2019, according to the National Information Center (CNI).
CNI director David Pérez Esparza said the calls are only suspected to be extortion-related at this point but when they are determined to be genuine the Attorney General’s Offie will request a trace.
He added that combating extortion calls is a priority of the federal government, since the crime increased 29.6% in September over the same month last year.
His department is creating a database of extortion phone numbers, which will be fed by anonymous reports from calls made to the number 089 operated by C4 and C5 security centers across the country. There is currently no national database of this type.
The CNI will also promote at the national level the use of technologies that alert citizens to possible extortion numbers, as is done in states like Guanajuato and Hidalgo.
Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said that extortion calls are a public security priority that requires immediate action.
Federal authorities report that organized crime is turning to methods that pose less risk of being detected by authorities. Extortion is seen by many as a safe, easy way to make fast money.
National Public Security System (SESNSP) data reveal that 6,355 extortion cases have been opened so far this year. August was the month with the most cases at 787.
Authorities have identified at least six different extortion methods used in Mexico. A virtual kidnapping involves convincing someone to pay a ransom for a supposedly kidnapped family member. In another ruse, the caller pretends to be the kidnapped family member. A similar shakedown involves convincing someone to pay the bail of an allegedly arrested relative.
Some extortionists threaten their victims by claiming to be from a local criminal organization and request money in exchange for protection. Some claim that the victim has won a prize and only needs to make a small deposit to claim it.
The sixth type of extortion call comes from someone pretending to be a domestic employee, claiming that the victim’s relative — their boss — is in trouble and needs urgent financial help.
According to the CNI report, the states with the highest rates of extortion calls in the country are Puebla, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, Chihuahua and Tabasco.
Source: El Universal (sp)