Police issue ‘virtual kidnap’ alerts to California schools

Authorities say residents made separate reports March 7 and 8 that they were the victims of the fake kidnapping threats. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Police issue ‘virtual kidnap’ alerts to California schools

  • Police said a man wired $5,000 before learning his daughter was safe

LAGUNA BEACH, California: Police in a seaside California city have alerted local schools to two “virtual kidnap” cases in 24 hours.
Laguna Beach police say victims received phone calls claiming their daughters had been kidnapped and would be harmed unless money was wired to a Mexican bank account, the Orange County Register reported Saturday.
There were no abductions in either case, according to police.
Authorities in the community about 57 miles (92 kilometers) south of Los Angeles say they have contacted the Laguna Beach Unified School District as well as local private schools to warn parents of the scam.
Authorities say residents made separate reports March 7 and 8 that they were the victims of the fake kidnapping threats.
“All of them want money transferred to an account in Mexico, and they are directing victims outside of the city to withdraw money,” Laguna Police Sgt. Jim Cota said.
Police said a man wired $5,000 before learning his daughter was safe.
“At about 6:30 p.m., as the victim was completing the last transaction, he received a call from his daughter who was fine in Laguna Beach,” Cota said.
In the second case on March 8, the victim was told her daughter had been taken while attending college in Chicago.
“Once the mother pulled out the money, she called the police department,” Cota said. “Police officers stopped her on her way out of town and were able to stop the transfer of money.”
Both of the cases were referred to the FBI on March 13, police said.


Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

Updated 18 April 2019
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Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

  • Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking

SOFIA: Bulgarian customs officials confiscated more than 288 kilo (635 pounds) of heroin hidden on a truck from Iran, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The haul is the biggest amount of heroin seized at Bulgaria’s borders this year, the customs agency said.

Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking, the Haskovo regional prosecution said in a statement. They risk jail terms from 15 to 20 years, it added.

The drugs were placed in 144 packages hidden inside the floor and ceiling of a spray painting machine transported inside the truck.

It was found when the vehicle was X-rayed upon entering Bulgaria from Turkey at the southeastern Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint on Sunday, but the seizure was only announced on Thursday.

Bulgaria, which lies on the so-called Balkan drugs route from the Middle East to Western Europe, has seen a several-fold increase in heroin seizures over the past three years.

In 2018, the customs agency confiscated a total of 994 kilos of heroin at the country’s borders, a rise of 13 percent from 2017.