SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Officials say criminals are scamming vulnerable New Mexicans with promises of rides to drug treatment facilities. Scammers are targeting people with substance abuse disorders, the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General and the state’s Human Services Department says. They sometimes promise money, or shelter before transporting victims across state lines to “illegitimate recovery facilities,” officials say.
“It’s unconscionable that anyone would promise to help and then illegally transport the most vulnerable New Mexicans out of state,” Kari Armijo, the acting cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department, said in a press release. “True help for someone in need never comes with a bribe.”
Officials say the 988 crisis lifeline is a good resource for those struggling with substance abuse or behavioral health issues. Also, you can report suspicious activity by calling 988.
“”What they’re doing in New Mexico, under the right circumstances is actually a form of kidnapping and human trafficking,” said New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez. “So, that’s what we’re focused on and we’re trying to do a coordinated effort, both here and in cooperation with our partners there in Arizona.”
The office of New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez is also teaming up with the Human Services Department (HSD) and law enforcement to present the “Don’t Be Taken For a Ride” awareness campaign. The attorney general will take tips from 988 to investigate potentially illegal activity.
“This campaign is extremely important to me and my team as we are looking for information against these bad actors that will hopefully lead to an arrest and criminal charges,” Attorney General Raúl Torrez said in a press release. “I thank HSD, FBI Albuquerque, 988 and all other partners who are helping to share this message so that we can take down these deceptive and illegitimate ‘providers’ who harm our community members and resources.”
The State says the first reports of this new scam came in a couple months ago near Gallup. They say people in marked vans were picking up the homeless, and offering medical care, shelter, and food.
Instead, victims were being taken across state line into Arizona, where their information is stolen, and used to get Medicaid money. Victims were then left behind, often times with no way to get back to New Mexico.