In Brazil, criminal gangs frequently phone victims with fake abduction claims about their loved ones and trick them into handing over cash. As the BBC's Gary Duffy reports from Sao Paulo, being on the receiving end can be a frightening experience.
It was clear that someone was trying to make us a victim of the kind of virtual kidnapping that is one of the more sinister aspects of crime across Latin America.
Anyone with a phone can be singled out. The virtual kidnappers, if you could call them that, try to panic the person they call - often a mother or a father - into going to a bank and paying out a ransom before there is time to actually check if their relative is missing.
In most cases no-one has actually been abducted. Time and fear and the aggressive manner of the caller are the key elements of this type of crime.
A mobile phone is stolen and the criminals simply ring the pre-programmed numbers for mum or dad or home.
The voice of the sobbing victim is often actually just a recording, while the caller is working from a script. In a state of panic, the victims often give away details that allow the caller to pretend they know more than they actually do.
In 2006, in just five Brazilian cities, nearly 10,000 people reported that they had been victims of this type of crime, and this is just the cases that have been registered.