Brazilian police dismantled a kidnapping ring that scoured social-networking sites for victims who appeared to be wealthy, then used profile information to track them to their jobs or favorite bars or clubs.
Nine people were arrested last week — mostly young men who spent hours on the Internet planning their crimes, authorities said Monday.
Police uncovered the group while investigating the kidnapping of a 19-year-old man in the interior of Sao Paulo state. Investigators monitored the suspects' communications to rescue the victim.
Authorities did not say how many other kidnappings the group was responsible for, or how long it had been acting in and around Sao Paulo.
The group searched profiles for postings of expensive trips, luxury cars and big houses. Then they would look up where potential victims worked and their favorite social hangouts, said an officer who could not be identified because of departmental policy.
"They used all this information to begin evaluating their crimes," police investigator Wilson Negrao told Globo TV.
After picking their victims, the group would study their routines and show up at the places they frequented.
With details of the victims' possessions, the group had a good idea of how much ransom they could push relatives to pay, police said.