IRVING, Texas — Eleven Hispanic-owned businesses in Irving became the target of a scam that has been ongoing since last week where a caller claiming to be from a cartel in Mexico threatened to shoot up a business unless specific demands were made, Irving Police said.
The calls came from a number in Mexico, and the caller made violent threats in Spanish.
In one incident, the caller told a manager to call back on her cell phone and ordered her to leave the store to buy gauze and alcohol for someone who was injured. The caller told her to leave the items outside and that someone would pick them up. The caller then demanded her go to another location to transfer money to Mexico.
To do all of this, the manager was gone for an hour. Her colleagues were worried for her safety.
"If it was true or not, at what point do you know it's a joke?" one coworker said. "I don't believe that cartel doesn't exist when I know it does. She did what she could, and she did it in a brave matter."
The manager said it felt real. She thought she was being followed. She felt a sigh of relief when she saw Irving police officers outside of the business as she was walking back from wiring the money to Mexico.
Another victim said her family has had run-ins with a cartel in Mexico. She agreed with police that this scam is not a credible threat based on past experiences, but said it is a real fear in her culture.
Two out of the 11 businesses targeted followed the orders and sent money to the scammer, police said.
Police are urging owners not to pick up or listen to the caller. Irving Police Department officer James McLellan said that officers "have looked at surveillance video, we have looked at the language on the phone calls and what has taken place" and determined that there is no credibility to the calls.
McLellan said if this happens to your business, make sure to report it to police.