Kidnapping Scam Alert
telling you someone you know has been kidnapped and is in danger.
The “kidnappers” will use social media to learn more about their victims—where they live, places they commonly visit, and connected friends—and claim they’re holding their cell phone, saying if you try to contact your loved one, you’re jeopardizing their life. They tell you that the only way you’ll get your loved one back is if you pay up.
“I believed him. I truly believed him,” said a recent victim of the scam. “He said, ‘lady, this is the deal, I have your brother.’ He told me that he hit him over the head and that he was bleeding out.”
The apparent kidnapper then demanded thousands of dollars through a wire transfer to return him safely, threatening that her brother will be shot if he doesn’t have an answer soon. Other ransom demands have involved telling the victim to send prepaid gift cards to a PO Box in another state.
Criminal prosecution of these kidnappers is unlikely because the cell numbers they are using are often untraceable since they are blocked or private. The scammers also change phone numbers frequently.
The best way to avoid being victimized by a kidnapping scam is to be alert. If you get one of these calls, stay calm. If you suspect it’s a hoax, simply hang up. If you are unsure, you can tell the caller that the person they have kidnapped is standing right next to you. It’s a safe bet that they will hang up on you. If they continue on with their ransom demands and threats of harm, calmly tell them to call you back in 10 minutes. This gives you time to contact your loved one and the police. Regardless of how you respond, you should always report the call to your local police department.
Please share this scam alert with your friends and family. The threat of violence against a loved one can lead people, especially the elderly, to react without thinking. This can lead to not only financial loss, but could potentially trigger a medical emergency when they become panicked or upset.Return to main Fraud Alerts page