Virtual Kidnapping Extortion CalIs
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Virtual Kidnapping Extortion CalIs

"Virtual kidnapping” calls as they are now commonly known, are on the on the rise in KleinBank’s communities. The FBI and local police departments seek to warn the public regarding “virtual kidnapping” extortion schemes.  These schemes involve an individual who contacts a victim via telephone and demands payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or friend. A fraudster may indicate the reason for holding their alleged victim pertains to false car accidents, drug debts or gang assaults. In reality no  kidnapping has taken place; the fraudster often uses a co-conspirator to convince their victims of the threat. As an example, a fraudster might attempt to convince a victim that their daughter has been kidnapped or being held at ransom due to a car accident and then have a young female scream for help in the background during the call.  

The fraudster goes to great lengths to engage the victim in the ongoing conversations to prevent them from verifying the location status of the “kidnapped” individual. Fraudsters will make their victims believe they are being watched to distract them. However, in reality, all cases authorities say, it’s nothing more than a heart-pounding hoax.

The FBI and local police departments have offered the tips below to help make sure you are not a victim.*

To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:

  • Incoming calls made from outside area code
  • Multiple successive phone calls
  • Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone
  • Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone
  • Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim
  • Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands a ransom payment for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:

  • Stay calm
  • Slow the situation down
  • Avoid sharing information about you or your family during the call
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim
  • Attempt to call or determine the location of the “kidnapped” victim
  • Request to speak to the victim
  • Ask questions only the victim would know
  • Request the kidnapped victim call you back from his/her cell phone

* FBI.gov (2014). Virtual Kidnapping Extortion Calls on the Rise.