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Spanish app calls time on Mexican kidnappers

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Spanish app calls time on Mexican kidnappers
Boia allows users to choose one or more mobile “bodyguards” who receive vital information when the app user leaves his or her predetermined “comfort zone”. File Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP
15:40 CEST+02:00
An IT company based in the Canary Islands has designed a mobile app which will give relatives of Mexico’s 105,000 annual kidnap victims a chance to track down their loved ones before it’s too late.

Singular Factory, which has its headquarters in the city of Telde in Gran Canaria, has created a potentially life-saving app capable of tracking down possible kidnap victims.

Boia, meaning beacon in Portuguese, allows users to choose one or more mobile “bodyguards” who receive vital information when the app user leaves his or her predetermined “comfort zone”.

“The app doesn’t interfere with the general mobile usage but it’s essential that the ‘guardians’ have the app installed on their phones too,” Singular Factory’s Gustavo Medina told Spanish daily ABC.

Mexico and other Latin American countries with high incidences of kidnappings have already shown interest in the Spanish app because of the amount of information it can provide in life or death situations.

Boia also informs guardians if the person’s battery is low or if they’re somewhere where there’s poor signal, all without it popping up on screen or beeping.

The innovative app can even record phone conversations users have once they exit their comfort zone, a crucial advantage when determining if the person is actually in danger.

Earlier in October, the four members of Spanish Indie group Delorean became the victims of what's known as a virtual kidnapping while they were on tour in Mexico.

Although they were not physically kidnapped, their ordeal raised awareness for the suffering of thousands of Mexican families who hand over their life savings under the mistaken pretence that a loved one is in danger.

The usual modus operandi in these types of fake abductions involves convincing the alleged hostages they are in danger in order for them to become unreachable or mysteriously absent.

Scammers will pretend to be police officers when they call the victims and either ask them to hide out in an area with no phone signal or tap their mobiles so that nobody can reach them.

This will in turn give more credibility to their story when posing as kidnappers on the phone to the hostages' relatives.

Boia now offers a way round these traumatic ordeals by providing families the tools to ascertain whether a real kidnapping is taking place.

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