Extortion Scheme Frightens Parents


A frantic mother called Laguna Beach police last week even as she was holding a conversation on another phone with a person claiming to be holding her son and demanding a ransom.

Detectives determined that her son was safe and that the call was a hoax to attempt to coerce the mother to wire money out of the country, said Sgt. Jim Cota in a statement.

A similar call about a phony kidnapping and ransom demand frightened another set of Laguna parents last Aug. 7 and came to the same result.

Last week’s call originated in Mexico, said police spokeman Jordan Villwock. As did the one in August.

The caller knew the name of the child and the mother could hear a child screaming in the background, Cota said.

Extortion schemes to trick the victim into paying a ransom often draw on information obtained through unsecured social media accounts, Cota said. Their success depend on fear and speed, as criminals know they have a brief time to exact a ransom before the victims unravel the scam or authorities become involved.

To avoid becoming a victim, look for these possible indicators: callers who insist you remain on the line, prevent you from contacting the “victim” and demand wire transfers, Cota said.


Thursday, April 19

Vehicle stop. Coast Highway. Deserie Enedina Garcia, 30, of Sante Fe Springs, and James Roger Saaf, 20, of Santa Ana, were arrested for suspicion of felony possession of stolen property, including pay stubs, checks and bills belonging to others. They initially provided police with false names, leading to another charge.

Monday, April 16

Brett Daniel Richards, 27, of Mission Viejo, was arrested for suspicion of possessing mushrooms and Xanax without a prescription. He was also wanted for a warrant for vehicle code violations.


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