There is a new scam going around that authorities are warning parents to beware of. As reported by WJLA, the kidnapping scam happened to a woman named Susan Wilder, who received the scariest call of her life one recent morning. On May 4, in the morning, Susan heard what she thought was the voice of Meg, her 17-year-old daughter, in the background of a phone call.
After hearing the voice of a girl whom she thought was her daughter screaming for help, a man’s voice came on the phone next, claiming he had Susan’s daughter. Wilder called the police from her landline as the man demanded money in order to get her daughter back. Susan drove to a nearby grocery store and took $800 out of her bank account via the ATM.
Meanwhile, the police tracked down the 17-year-old at school. That’s when Susan learned she was a victim of a scam being called a “virtual kidnapping” scam — or a child abduction scam.
Susan wasn’t the only person who has been the victim of the kidnapping scam. As reported by WTOP, kidnapping scams have been popping up in the area of Washington, D.C., as of late. The virtual kidnapping scams feature scammers that claim to have a child or other family member — scary calls that contain threats of harming the person if those on the other end of the phone call don’t pay up.
Plenty of the abduction scam phone calls feature a person screaming in the background, trying to make the kidnapping sound more real. Apparently, the screaming voices have been scary enough for folks like Wilder to not realize that it actually wasn’t her daughter screaming in the background.
The child abduction scam isn’t new but apparently is being used again by some scammers to try and deceive people to give them money. As reported by the Fairfax County Government in Virginia, the Fairfax County Police Department has gotten several reports from around the region about the abduction scam. Three of those kidnapping scam attempts were in Fairfax.
Because kidnappers know that most parents would be quick to give all the money they have to get their children out of harm, the scammers use emotion and fear as the motivating factors in their scams. Instead of calling the schools that their kids attend — or trying to contact their children directly — some parents who have received these scam kidnapping calls forget to verify the whereabouts of their children and immediately believe the scammers.
As part of their method of operation, the scammers will attempt to keep the parents on the phone so that they cannot call the police. However, such as in the case of Wilder, she was able to dial police from her landline and put the call on the speaker phone so that the authorities could hear her speaking with the scammers.
The FBI has offered the following tips to parents who receive such scam calls.
“For criminals, the success of any type of virtual kidnapping depends on speed and fear. They know they only have a short time to exact a ransom payment before the victims and their families unravel the scam or authorities become involved. To avoid becoming a victim, the FBI advises to look for these possible indicators:
Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line.
Calls do not come from the victim’s phone.
Callers try to prevent you from contacting the ‘kidnapped’ victim.
Multiple successive phone calls.
Incoming calls made from an outside area code.
Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer, not in person; ransom demands may drop quickly.”
[Image via Shutterstock]