Posted: Jul 29, 2014 7:03 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2014 7:03 PM
WESLACO - The FBI is asking families of unaccompanied minors to be on high alert for a new scam.
Investigators two weeks ago realized they'd found a new trend targeting families of unaccompanied minors in the United States.
According to investigators, employees or contractors at two holding facilities for unaccompanied minors are exploiting information they've learned while on the job.
They're calling the minors' families in the U.S. and telling them they need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to cover housing costs or transportation fees to be reunited with the children.
The calls originated from Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Sill. Employees there have access to the names and contact information for the families, as well as identifying information for the children in their custody. Investigators said that is what makes the calls seem legitimate.
FBI Spokeswoman Michelle Lee said the families getting the calls have been targeted for a reason.
"They're very vulnerable, not just because they have limited means but also they may not feel comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes to law enforcement. We want to make sure that the message is clear that you should not have to pay these amounts," Lee said.
Families in at least 12 states have received the phone calls. The FBI says the fraud may expand to more shelters. Lee said the methods may grow as well.
The FBI says any request for money should be viewed with extreme caution.