TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — It's spring break for students across Southern Arizona and the FBI has a warning for everyone who’s planning to travel. Brooke Brennan with the Tucson division of the FBI says if you plan to travel abroad be careful because scammers are everywhere including social media. If you choose to post online, be sure to make the post private.
"With the border opening up and COVID numbers going down this is probably the first time people have traveled in a couple of years,” Brennan said. "Criminals might be scrolling through social media saw that a person was going to be abroad and might not be in constant contact with someone. Those opportunists really take advantage of what they see on social media."
Another important point is that you should always keep a close eye on your passport and personal information.
"We suggest that you always travel in groups and if someone approaches you saying they are a fellow traveler don’t trust them immediately, trust the people you are traveling with,” Brennan said.
Aside from virtual kidnapping scams and human trafficking. The FBI has seen at least 20 real kidnapping incidents of people from Southern Arizona who have traveled abroad over the past 2 years. Experts say those numbers are thought to be higher because some victims don’t report out of fear or choose to pay the ransom.
"You may get a call from out of country or out of state or out of area number and someone will say hey I have your kid, or I have your friend,” Brennan said. "Send me this money through wire or whatever form they want to use. They will keep you on the phone to keep you distracted saying don’t call police."
Brennan says you should always let someone know where you are at all times. If you do have issues while traveling, be sure to call the U.S. consulate where you are. Its also important to note that in foreign countries you should assume that your electronic and wireless communications won’t be private. One last rule of thumb while packing is if you don’t need it on your trip don’t take it.
"Don’t leave your drink alone, don’t go to the bathroom alone," Brennan said. "If someone approaches you and tries to make a connection with you that you don’t know and they're saying hey I’m a fellow traveler too let's go to this club next or what hotel are you staying at, just be extra cautious with the kind of information you give."
TRAVEL ADVISORY INFORMATION:
Before finalizing plans, the FBI suggests you review the health and security alert issued by the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico last week: https://mx.usembassy.gov/health-and-security-alert-spring-break-2022/ [mx.usembassy.gov]
To view travel advisories for multiple countries, visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/ [travel.state.gov]
For the current travel advisory for Mexico, visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory.html [travel.state.gov]
For more information on virtual kidnapping for ransom scams and how you can protect yourself, visit: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/phoenix/news/press-releases/fbi-warns-public-of-virtual-kidnapping-extortion-calls [fbi.gov]
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