4 sentenced to prison for shakedown scheme that involved phony kidnap claims

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SAN DIEGO — Four people have been sentenced to federal prison for a scheme that collected ransoms from families around the country by falsely claiming their loved ones had been kidnapped.

Ruth Raygoza of Chula Vista, Maria Contreras of Los Angeles and Adrian and Jonathan Rocha of Tijuana, Mexico, were sentenced Monday in San Diego. Their sentences range from over a year to more than three years.

They pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and launder money.

Prosecutors say the ring targeted mainly Spanish-speaking non-citizens, who were called and told their loved ones were being held captive.

The conspirators collected nearly $200,000 from nearly 130 families.

The ransom money was wired to Southern California and passed on to Mexico.

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