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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: kidnapping, , , ,   

    Scammers: “How much are your children worth?” 

    Scammers: "How much are your children worth?"

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve been posting about the virtual kidnapping scam for a few years now. If you’re unfamiliar with this particular scam, this is where scammers claim to have kidnapped a loved one and demand a ransom. However, the scammers are bluffing, and are hoping you’ll panic enough that you’ll pay them. Within the past few months, a new and disturbing version of this scam has emerged. Instead of the scammers claiming they’ve kidnapped your spouse or parent, they’re now claiming they’ve kidnapped your child.

    We first saw reports of this scam coming out of the Northeast. It wasn’t long before the scam spread to the Southwest. More recently, it has found its way to California, making this a coast-to-coast scam. That means there’s nothing stopping it from showing up in any community.

    Police in Nevada County, California, have received multiple calls from parents of school age children. The parents have said they received phone calls from people who claimed to have kidnapped their children. According to police, the scammers weren’t able to provide any identifying information about the children they supposedly kidnapped. So, it seems like they were unsuccessful this time. That’s not always the case, though.

    In previous scam attempts, scammers were able to identify the children by name. More than likely, these scammers obtained information on the children through social media. Scammers even spoofed the child’s phone number to make it look like the call came from the child’s phone.

    Authorities in California has recommended to parents they should install a tracking/GPS app on their child’s phone. This way, if the parent receives one of these ransom calls, they can tell where their child is at that time. In most of the previous cases, the children were safe at school.

    If you’re a parent of school age children, you may not be able to avoid scam calls like this. However, you can take steps to prevent yourself from being scammed. If you receive one of these calls, try not to panic, and call your child’s school to make sure they are still there. Also, try to limit what information is shared about your child on social media. That includes talking to your children to let them know what information is ok to share and what isn’t.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: kidnapping, Santa Fe, , , ,   

    Child kidnapping scam spreads across country 

    Child kidnapping scam spreads across country

    By Greg Collier

    Last month, we discussed a scam that was targeting the families of public school children in the city of Boston. In this scam, the scammers would call the parents of school children and tell the parents that their child had been kidnapped. The children were even referred to by name in these phone calls, making the scam seem legitimate as possible.

    This is known as the virtual kidnapping scam. The reason it’s called virtual is that the scammers really haven’t kidnapped anybody. They’re just hoping they can convince their target that the kidnapping is real. Previously, scammers have claimed to have kidnapped parents, spouses, or adult children, but now they’ve branched out into claiming to have kidnapped school kids.

    What started out recently in Boston, has started to spread to other parts of the country. For example, a mother from Rhode Island received a call saying that her son had been abducted from a local drug store. She was told that her son had been taken by drug dealers from the store’s parking lot. Ransom was demanded from the women for the safe return of her child. Thankfully, local police were able to find her son was still at school, unaware of anything that had happened.

    Granted, Rhode Island isn’t that far from Boston, so some may think that the scam is localized. However, there have now been reports of the scam taking place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not exactly the Boston suburbs. In the case of Santa Fe, the scammers are particularly targeting the parents of children who attend Catholic schools in the area. As in the Boston scams, the actual names of the school children are being used in the scam.

    The thought of their child being abducted is the greatest fear of most parents. A phone call like this could put them in a state of panic they’ve never known before, so it’s easy to understand why they would think the kidnapping was real.

    The best way for parents to protect themselves from this scam is to know about the scam in the first place, so they know how to react if it happens. If you get a call like this, the first thing you should do is to try to contact the police on another line. You may want to also consider discussing this scam with your children and establishing a code word that only you and your children would know.

    It’s believed that the scammers get information about the children from public posts on social media. While we’re all proud of our children and want to share their accomplishments, you may want to limit social media activity about your kids to close friends and family, and make sure the posts can’t be reshared. And as always, consider having a discussion with your children about what information is and isn’t ok to share on social media.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , kidnapping, , ,   

    Kidnapping scam targets school children 

    Kidnapping scam targets school children

    By Greg Collier

    Lately, when we discuss the virtual kidnapping scam, we ask if you think you could remain calm if it happened to you. If you’re unfamiliar with the virtual kidnapping scam, it’s where scammers will call a victim and tell them they’ve kidnapped one of their loved ones. This is always done to try and wrangle some kind of ransom payment out of the victim. The payments are typically demanded in largely untraceable ways. For example, phony ransoms have been demanded in gift cards, money transfers, and cryptocurrency just to name a few.

    The scam is designed to induce the victim into an emotional state of panic. Often the scammers will have someone in the background of the phone call acting like the supposed kidnap victim with screaming and cries for help. However, the loved one of the scam victim is actually safe and going about their day as normal, unaware they’re being used as a pawn in a scam.

    Typically, these scams claim they’ve kidnapped, spouses, older parents, and adult children. Now, it appears that the scammers are using school children in their schemes.

    Police in Boston have reported that there have been multiple instances of calls to the parents of school children who are told their child has been kidnapped. Every parent’s fear is the fear of their child disappearing at the hands of a bad actor. In these Boston area calls, the children have even been referred to by name. Even though kidnappings for ransom are rare in the United States, all kinds of logic can go straight out the window when someone thinks their child is in danger.

    While it sounds easier than done, try to remain calm if you receive one of these phone calls. Boston police recommend hanging up immediately and contacting police. It’s also recommended that you limit the information you share about your children on social media. While we all want to be proud parents, you may want to limit the scope of your social media posts to real life friends and family, and also make sure the posts can’t be shared by anyone else. Lastly, talk to your kids about what’s appropriate for them to share with their friends on social media, and explain to them how sharing too much could put them at risk.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: kidnapping, , ,   

    Victim held hostage in romance scam 

    Victim held hostage in romance scam

    When we’ve discussed romance scams in the past, we always mention the potential financial and emotional toll it can take on its victims. What we haven’t mentioned is the physical toll when it comes to the safety of romance scam victims.

    If you’re unfamiliar with what a romance scam is, it’s when a scammer poses online as someone their not and luring victims in with the prospect of a romantic relationship. When the scammer has fully fooled their victim into believing they’re in an authentic relationship, the scammer will start asking their victim for money. Previous romance scams have seen victims lose anywhere from thousands of dollars to literally over a million dollars.

    Red flags that could indicate a romance scam is if the person keeps giving excuses as to why they can’t meet you in person. Another red flag can be if the person claims to be working or stationed overseas. Romance scammers often pose as American military members and steal the photos of active military personnel.

    Recently, an American woman who was caught up in a romance scam was rescued from her captors who had allegedly perpetrated a romance scam on her. The woman was lured to Nigeria with the promise of marriage. She actually married the man who was scamming her. After the marriage, the scammer was said to have taken control of all her financial accounts including her retirement account. The victim was held captive by her scammer for 16 months in a hotel room. This type of captivity is not unheard of as authorities rescued a woman from the Philippines who had been held in Nigeria for six months.

    Again, we can’t stress this enough that anybody from any cultural, financial, or educational background can be a victim of a romance scam. We’ve seen people from widows/widowers to corporate CEOs who have been taken in romance scams. Now, with the added danger of being held captive being thrown into the mix, you should be more cautious than ever when it comes to making relationships online.

    If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a romance scam, the Federal Trade Commission has a great website on how to recognize a romance scam. Don’t let your heart trick you into making dangerous decisions.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: kidnapping, ,   

    Scammer tries to claim missing man was kidnapped 

    Scammer tries to claim missing man was kidnapped

    In Cincinnati, a woman has been dealing with tragedy on two fronts. Two years ago, her brother went missing and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Last year, her great-niece accidentally drowned and is fighting for her life in the hospital. You might think that a person undergoing such hardships might be considered off-limits to scammers but you’d be mistaken. This is exactly the type of person that scammers are looking for. They prey upon the emotionally vulnerable hoping that their mental state will cause them to leave their guard down and fall for their scam.

    Because this woman’s grand-niece is still in the hospital, she’s been trying to raise money for medical expenses through GoFundMe which many people with rising medical costs do in our country. The woman was able to raise several thousand dollars through the fundraising platform. This attracted the attention of a scammer who obviously didn’t care what depths they had to stoop to. The scammer sent her text messages saying that they had kidnapped her missing brother. They asked for the GoFundMe money for his release. They even sent her a photoshopped picture of her brother’s face with duct tape over his mouth.

    Thankfully, the woman had the resolve to take the messages to the police who indicated to her that the picture had been obviously edited. She texted the scammer back and said she couldn’t access the money and the messages stopped.

    As we have discussed in our previous posts about virtual kidnappings, kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the United States. In most cases, the supposed victims of these scams are just fine and are in no danger. However, since her brother was missing it added a layer to the scam. She absolutely did the right thing in taking the text messages to police.

    Even if you’re currently under great emotional stress when approached by one of these scams, always take a step back and try to think rationally about what you can do. With virtual kidnapping scams, your best bet is to always try to get someone else to contact the supposed kidnap victim to make sure they’re ok. If you’re ever unsure what to do, you can always go to the police.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: kidnapping, , ,   

    Father almost falls for kidnapping scam 

    Father almost falls for kidnapping scam

    One of the cruelest scams that we’ve ever posted about has to be the virtual kidnapping scam. The scam entails receiving a phone call from someone who claims to have kidnapped one of your loved ones. The scammers may even have someone with them acting like the person they claim to have kidnapped. Due to the potential harm that could come to your loved one, rational thinking gets thrown out the window. You’re then instructed to have the ransom wired somewhere before your loved one will be released. After you give the scammers the money is when you find out that no one has been kidnapped at all.

    While many of us are aware of this scam, a hard-working father had to find out about this scam the hard way. The home inspector received a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped his daughter. He even had heard a voice that resembled his daughter calling out for help. The supposed kidnappers told the man that they would kill his daughter if he did not wire them $1,000. Luckily, the man had the wherewithal to write a note to a client he was with for them to call the police. When the situation was related to law enforcement they advised the man to try to call his daughter on another phone. Sure enough, his daughter was fine and had not been in any danger.

    Kidnapping for ransom is quite rare in the United States and is more of a Hollywood trope. However, it’s understandable how a high-pressure situation like this could lead to even the savviest people to fall for such a scam. If you were ever to receive one of these phone calls and you don’t want to take the chance that a loved may be in danger, do what this father did. Get access to another phone and call the person who is the supposed victim. The odds are pretty good that they will actually be safe and sound. Whenever you receive a high-pressure call that requires you to take some financial action like this, take a moment to gather your thoughts before making any decisions that could cost you a fortune.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on April 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Johnny Barker, Kevin Garcia-Boettler, kidnapping, , ,   

    Arrests made in the craigslist disappearance of Okla. men 

    Arrests made in the craigslist disappearance of Okla. men

    There’s been an update to yesterday’s story about the disappearance of two men from Moore, Oklahoma, who went missing after an alleged craigslist transaction. Sadly, the bodies of 21-year-olds Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland were found in a pond with both men having been shot to death. Three suspects have been arrested and charged in their murders, and they are 22-year-old Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 43-year-old Johnny Barker, and the 16-year-old brother of Garcia-Boettler.

    According to police, Moreland and Smith were said to be selling a gun on craigslist and the trio of suspects were meeting with the two men to purchase the gun. Once Moreland and Smith approached the suspects’ van, one of the suspects claims they heard a gun being cocked by one of the victims. This resulted in one of the suspects firing on the two men, killing them both. Tragically, this could have all been prevented.

    Craigslist’s terms of service forbids firearms from being sold or traded on their site, yet it happens all the time. The problem with craigslist is the usual one as they hardly ever do any kind of moderation on their site for any kind of illegal items or sales. Instead, they rely on their users to flag any kind of inappropriate ad, the same users who are posting the illegal ads to begin with. This is akin to the inmates running the asylum. Craigslist has the ability to screen for ads like this as they have done so in the past with unlocked iPhones when that was still illegal. Yet they allow guns to change hands without even batting an eye.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on April 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , kidnapping,   

    Two men missing after possible craigslist abduction 

    Two men missing after possible craigslist abduction

    Over this past weekend, two Oklahoma families are experiencing their worst nightmares after members of their families disappeared during what was believed to be a craigslist transaction. 21-year-olds Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland were reportedly abducted from a supermarket parking lot in Moore, Oklahoma, by two men in a white van. Shots were also said to have been fired during the abduction and a bloody gun was found at the scene.

    This was no midnight meeting either as the two men met their purported abductors at 6:00 PM on a Saturday in a busy parking lot. This is the definition of a well-lit public place during the day. Sadly, these precautions weren’t enough as their captors committed a brazen daylight attack against the two victims. Police are looking to the public for help in finding the two victims.

    Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Smith and Moreland is asked to call the Moore Police Department at (405)793-5171.

    As we have stated in the past, we believe the safest place to conduct any kind of classifieds transaction is at your local police department as many stations across the country are now encouraging citizens to use their locations to conduct business safely. I understand there are segments of the population who don’t trust police and many have good reason to be fearful. However, it may be worth putting those fears aside in order to be able to go home to your family.

    Our thoughts go out to the families of Mr. Smith and Mr. Moreland, and we are hoping for their safe return.

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