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Texas woman gets prison in virtual kidnapping, ransom scam

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas woman has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for her role in what investigators called a “virtual kidnapping” extortion scam with ties to Mexico.

Yanette Rodriguez Acosta was sentenced Thursday to 88 months in prison. The 35-year-old Houston woman pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Investigators last year warned about the scam, in which callers from Mexico tell parents that their children have been abducted and demand ransoms. Prosecutors say there were no kidnappings.

Parents in California, Idaho and Texas were targeted. Some ransom money was dropped in Houston or received through wire transfers.

Victims testified Thursday that callers threatened them and their families if they reported the crime.

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