virtual kidnapping scam

How to Recognize the Virtual Kidnapping Scam

Note: This kidnapping scam has been making its way around Western Washington recently, namely Central Park, Aberdeen and Thurston. Always remember to verify that the alleged kidnappee is safe before falling victim to this extortion scam. These scammers are aggressive and convincing, thus making them very dangerous.

There’s a rising phone scam making its way around the states and it’s the scariest one we’ve seen yet: a kidnapping scam. This scam hits your bank account and your biggest fears.

You answer an unknown call to the sound of someone screaming followed by the chilling sound of someone telling you that they have kidnapped your child or relative. The kidnapper immediately demands money and insists that you stay on the line. They say they are tracking your phone and your location. They will harm your loved one. The only way to end this nightmare and get your relative home safely is to wire them money. You wire them the money.

It is only after the call is over that you realize you’ve been scammed. Whether you race home or call your child or relative in a panic to ensure they’re ok, you find out that they’ve been safe all along. It was all a scam.

So what do you do if you get one of these calls? The FBI has provided the following advice:

Ask the kidnapper(s) questions: can you speak with your loved one, ask them to describe your loved one’s appearance, ask questions only your relative would know (name of a pet, etc).

Request that the kidnappers call back from your relative’s phone. Meanwhile, try to contact your loved one. Find another phone and call 911 or your loved one from there. Try texting or using social media to reach your relative.

Buy yourself some time by repeating the request, or simply asking for more time.

Don’t challenge or fight with the caller (actual kidnappings do happen, after all).

Lastly, after all is said and done, be sure to report the kidnapping scam to your local authorities. You can also report the number through various channels such as the FTC and BBB.

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