HOUSTON (AP) — Federal authorities say they’ve arrested a Houston woman who collected ransoms from people who believed their children were kidnapped and that the money had to be paid to get them released.
Thirty-four-year-old Yanette Rodriguez Acosta was taken into custody Thursday after being indicted two days earlier on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud. It’s not clear if she has a lawyer.
Authorities say she conspired with others in Mexico in a “virtual kidnapping” scheme in which they called people in California, Idaho and Texas. They say two victims from 2015 were told their daughters were kidnapped because they witnessed a crime and that the daughters’ fingers would be cut off if the parents didn’t follow demands.
Those parents made money drops in Houston totaling $28,000.
There were no actual kidnappings, and it’s not clear how victims were targeted.