Brazilian police say they have broken up a so-called Gang of Blondes made up of six attractive, educated women believed to have abducted 54 female shoppers since 2009, the Agence France-Presse reported. The young women, five of whom are blonde, would release their victims immediately after maxing out their credit cards.
Three of the women were arrested over the weekend, the AFP reported. A man believed to have coordinated the women was also arrested.
Police say the women would case malls and supermarkets in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, looking for wealthy women who looked like them so they could assume their identity, BBC Mundo reported. Once they identified their target, two of the women would hold the victim in her car at gunpoint, according to the AFP, while two others would empty the victim's bank accounts.
In one case, the Gang of Blondes bought nearly $9,700 worth of items with the cards and took out more than $1,660, a police officer with Sao Paulo’s anti-kidnapping unit told reporters, according to the AFP. Often, they bought designer clothes.
Joaquim Dias Alves told BBC Mundo that one or two speak more than one language and that several had been educated overseas.
"They are really pretty girls, well-dressed, made up," Dias Alves said. He told BBC Mundo that never in his 31 years on the force has he dealt with a case that seemed to have been ripped from the screen.
Officials also told reporters that the women started by breaking into condominiums in 2008 but got into the business of express kidnapping -- a form of kidnapping popular in certain Latin American countries -- the next year.
More from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Wife of Staff Sgt. Bales: 'I just don't think he was involved'
- Delicate dance for Pope Benedict in Cuba
- Jews protest Hitler shampoo ad in Turkey
- Venice sinking five times faster than thought?
Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world