SCAM ALERT - Virtual Kidnapping Scams

Published: 03/19/2019

SCAM ALERT - Virtual Kidnapping Scams

Recently in other jurisdictions, scammers have attempted to get money from potential victims by conducting a “virtual kidnapping” scam.

This type of scam is based on speed and fear, and one that’s been actually going on for years but continues to claim victims. The scammer will obtain personal information on the potential victim and call to say they have kidnapped a loved one or family member, then demand a large amount of money as ransom. The scammer will try to keep the victim on the phone and have the ransom transferred as quickly as possible before they can confirm their family or loved one is actually safe.

How do these scammers obtain this personal information?  Many times it’s through the victim’s unsecured or non-private social media accounts.

If you do receive a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped your child, family member, or loved one, here are a few tips:

• The caller goes to great lengths to keep you on the phone and insists you remain on the line.

• The call doesn’t come from the victim’s phone.

• The caller tries to prevent you from reaching your child.

• The caller demands the money be sent to Mexico via wire transfer; the amount of the ransom drops rapidly to encourage payment.

If you do receive a call like this, then do the following:

• Hang up.

• If you do engage, do not call out your loved one’s name.

• Try to slow the situation and ask to speak with the family member directly.

• Ask questions only your loved one would know, such as the name of a pet.

• Listen carefully to the voice of the alleged victim if they speak.

• Attempt to contact your loved one and ask that you be contacted back through their phone.

• Buy time by saying you’re writing down demands.

• Don’t agree to pay any ransom by wire or in person.

And if you are contacted with this type of scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency.