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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: New Mexico, ransom, , virtual kidnapping   

    Virtual kidnapping scam has a new twist 

    Virtual kidnapping scam has a new twist

    The virtual kidnapping scam is one of the more disturbing scams going today. The scam works with a scammer calling someone and telling them that they’re holding one of their loved ones hostage. They often have someone who is supposed to be your loved one screaming in the background. The victim will be threatened with harm coming to their loved one if the victim hangs up the phone. The scammers will often claim to be with a criminal cartel. They’ll then demand payment in some untraceable way. Meanwhile, your loved one is actually safe and has no idea they’re being used in a scam.

    Scammers are always looking to improve on scams like this to put more pressure on the victim to pay up. One such scammer recently did that to a family in New Mexico. The family received a phone call that their daughter had been in a car accident. Now, this sounds like the start of a grandparent scam where the scammer will ask for money to bail the daughter out of jail or something similar. Instead, this scammer told the family they were holding their daughter hostage. This scammer also put a woman on the phone posing as the daughter. $1000 was demanded for her safe return. As with most scams, the scammer demanded payment in gift cards.

    Even with this new variation of the virtual kidnapping scam, your reaction should always be the same. Call the person that’s been supposedly kidnapped and make sure that they’re ok. In an instance like this, you can also call police wherever the accident is supposed to have taken place, and they can tell you if a crash happened or not. What you shouldn’t do is panic. Please keep in mind that according to law enforcement kidnappings for ransom are quite rare in the US. Once the scammer knows they have you reeled in, they can use this emotional extortion to take a large sum of money from you.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , virtual kidnapping   

    Kidnapping scam claims to have your kids 

    Kidnapping scam claims to have your kids

    As if Americans didn’t already have enough to deal with, the virtual kidnapping scam seems to be on the rise again. This time, the scammers are claiming to have kidnapped your kids.

    If you haven’t heard of virtual kidnapping scams before, it’s when a scammer calls someone, usually at random, and tells the person that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers will tend to use generic language such as they kidnapped your daughter, father, etc. They’ll have someone in the background pretending to be who they’ve claimed to have kidnapped. However, it’s all just a show designed to get you into a state of panic and pay a ransom. Victims will be asked for payment in untraceable forms like cash apps, gift cards, or money transfer services.

    The trick to this scam is that no one you know was actually kidnapped. The scammers themselves are probably not even in your area as most victims report the callers as having foreign accents.

    One recent victim of the scam was a mother from Missouri who was told that her child had been kidnapped. She said that she could hear a child screaming in the background. She didn’t pay any ransom but she reacted how most of us would. She drove directly to her child’s school to make sure her child was ok, which they were, thankfully. While she may not have lost any money, she experienced the real fear that all parents have, the fear of someone abducting their child.

    For all intents and purposes, this mother did the right thing. She made sure her loved one was ok before paying any phony ransom. If you receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you contact the loved one first to make sure they’re ok. When the scammers say they’ve kidnapped your father, daughter, son, etc., don’t say the loved one’s name as that gives the scammer more information to work with. Also, please keep in mind that kidnappings for ransom are rare in the United States. However, it is recommended that you always contact the police regardless if it’s a scam or not.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , virtual kidnapping   

    Virtual kidnapping scam back on the rise 

    Virtual kidnapping scam back on the rise

    With some aspects of life returning to normal, it seems that scammers are returning to their same old tricks. While COVID-19 related scams are still being perpetrated, we’ve seen a trend where scammers appear to be going back to scams they’ve run prior to the pandemic.

    One of those scams is the virtual kidnapping scam. This is when a scammer will call a victim and tell them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers will then demand a ransom either through wire transfer, gift cards, or other hard to trace payment options. The reality of this scam is that nobody has been actually kidnapped and the scammers are hoping the fear generated in the situation will cause the victim to pay the phony ransom.

    Recently, in New Mexico, the state police there have reported an uptick in these virtual kidnappings. The scammers here are instructing their victims to send money through transfer services like MoneyGram or Western Union. The scammers use these services since they can usually collect the money almost anonymously before disappearing or collect it overseas where US law enforcement can’t reach them. The kidnapping calls in New Mexico are said to be originating in Mexico. A sheriff’s office in Oklahoma is also reporting that this scam is taking hold there as well.

    If you ever receive one of these phone calls, try to use another phone to try to contact the person the scammers they’ve claimed to have kidnapped. The scammers will try to pressure you into paying the phony ransom while trying to keep you on the phone. Failing that, ask to speak to the purported kidnapping victim and ask them a question only that person would know.

    While it may seem like high pressure situation, keep in mind that kidnappings for ransom in the United States are rare. Take a moment to collect yourself so you can think rationally. However, you should take down as much information as possible in case it turns out to be an actual kidnapping. If not, you can use the information to forward to the police.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual 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 8:25 am on April 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , virtual kidnapping   

    Kidnapping scams, among others, continue 

    Kidnapping scams, among others, continue

    For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing scams that have been related to the coronavirus pandemic whether it’s directly or indirectly. While fears surrounding the pandemic have been a boon to many con artists, some are still running the same old scams without using coronavirus as a tool in their arsenal.

    In Denver, the police have been receiving complaints about kidnapping scams taking place. This is when a scammer will call a victim and tell them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one. The scammers will then demand a ransom either through wire transfer, gift cards or other hard to trace payment options. The trick to this scam is that nobody has been actually kidnapped and the scammers are hoping the fear generated in the situation will cause the victim to pay the phony ransom. Often, these scammers are able to find the names of their pretend victims through social media making the threatening call more convincing. If you ever receive one of these phone calls, always get someone you trust to call the suspected victim while you keep the virtual kidnappers on the phone. In any case, you should always contact the police if you find yourself in the midst of this scam.

    Two Chicago men were arrested in Boise, Idaho accused of a social media scam that cost victims thousands of dollars. The two men would allegedly take to social media and post the message “Who ready to get paid today? Text CASH NOW to [phone number redacted.] It’s legit… tell them I referred you.” Victims were said to be persuaded to hand over their debit card information including their PIN. Instead of getting paid, the two men would deposit phony checks into the victims’ accounts then withdraw the money before the bank would realize the checks were fake.

    In Kentucky, scammers are posing as the state Lottery Commission and telling victims that they have won large prizes. The scammers will then either ask for ‘taxes’ on the prize or they’ll ask for bank information to send the phony prize. In either case, the victims end up losing money before it’s all over/. Keep in mind that when you purchase a lottery ticket you never give your contact information to the point of purchase so the Lottery Commission has no way of contacting you.

    While these scams may bot be happening in your area now, it could only be a matter of time before they are.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping   

    Don’t be intimidated by scammers’ threats of violence 

    Don't be intimidated by scammers' threats of violence

    In Illinois, a woman received a message on social media that appeared to be from a relative. The woman noticed that the account used to send the message wasn’t her relative’s actual account but one made to look like her relative’s. When the woman responded to the scammer asking them to leave her family alone the scammer started threatening her. The scammer said that if they weren’t paid money that they were going to hurt the family even going as far as to threaten a shooting.

    The hacker responded saying “Tell her to pay me $300 dollars for her to get her page back. I’m going to do bad stuff to her soon.” That’s when she called the police. But the scammer threatened more. “Police can’t stop snipers,” they messaged. “You getting killed first.”

    Unfortunately, these threats of violence have become just another tool in a scammer’s bag of tricks. This isn’t the first time where we discussed someone having their family threatened with violence from scammers. Last year, a man in Brooklyn, New York had his family threatened if he didn’t give scammers money. The scammers then sent him violent and graphic pictures while claiming to be from a criminal cartel. There’s also the virtual kidnapping scam where scammers will either claim to have kidnapped a loved one or pose as the kidnap victim to try to get money for a kidnapping that didn’t happen.

    Scammers are hoping that by using threats of violence they can put their victims in such an emotional state that the victims will give in to the scammer’s demands. More often than not, the scammers are calling or messaging from overseas and have no way of carrying out these threats. If you receive a call or message from a scammer, your best option is to not engage with them. Even telling them to stop contacting you gives them information they can potentially use for future scams. If a scammer threatens you, don’t hesitate to contact police. If police can’t apprehend the scammer they can at least warn others in your community of the scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , pickpockets, , , virtual kidnapping   

    Now you see your jewelry, now you don’t 

    Now you see your jewelry, now you don't

    If you’re planning on traveling this holiday season you may want to avoid San Francisco, or at least leave the jewelry at home. San Francisco police are warning visitors about a street-level scam that has seen its victims lose a lot of personal items. Con artists are said to be approaching victims by performing sleight of hand tricks. These deft deceivers then switch out your jewelry with fakes before absconding with the real thing. If you think that this only happens in movies, think again. You may also want to rethink the notion that it can’t happen to you.

    The virtual kidnapping scam is making the rounds again, this time in the Sedona area of Arizona. In case you’re not familiar with this scam it can be particularly disturbing to the victim. In it, the scammer will call their victim and claim that they’ve kidnapped one of their loved ones. Sometimes they’ll even have other people act as the alleged kidnapping victim. In reality, there has been no kidnapping and the scammers are trying to get the victim into an emotional state where they’ll pay a ransom without question. If you receive a call like this, it is recommended that you try to contact the person who the scammers claim is being kidnapped.

    Lastly, in Virginia, a man was targeted in a car wrapping scam. This is yet another variation of the phony check scam. The man was contacted by someone claiming to represent an energy drink company and they wanted to pay him for wrapping his car in advertisements. They sent him a check for $3,000 which he was supposed to deposit in his bank account, keep $500 and use the rest to buy the wrapping for his car. Thankfully, the man felt like something was wrong and had his bank investigate the check before depositing it. The check was a fake and if the man had deposited it and spent the money he would have had to pay the bank the difference back.

    Please keep in mind that while these scams may not be happening in your area right now, they could be showing up there soon.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , virtual 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 November 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping   

    Kidnapping scam claims more victims 

    Kidnapping scam claims more victims

    We’ve discussed the virtual kidnapping scam before. While it’s an uncommon scam, it does seem to be becoming more prolific. It sounds like something out of a movie or TV show where you receive a call telling you that a loved one has been kidnapped and you need to pay the ransom. Actual kidnappings for ransom, no matter the amount asked, are incredibly rare. However, when you receive a phone call telling you that a family member has been kidnapped, you may not act in the most rational way since you believe that someone close to you is in danger.

    Recently, a woman in Alabama received such a phone call. The person on the other end claimed to be her grown son and that he was in trouble. Another person got on the phone and told the woman that her son’s friend owed a gang $5,000 and they were keeping her son hostage until she paid them the money. The scammers had her pay by making her purchase pre-paid debit cards, known as vanilla cards However, they didn’t stop there. The scammers also made her wire part of the phony ransom and made her send the rest in gift cards. The scammers even instructed her on what to say if any store employee got wise that this was part of a scam. In the end, her son was never in danger and the caller even admitted that they scammed her.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, you should hang up and call police. If you end up engaging the caller, don’t say the name of the person they’ve claimed to kidnap. If you are concerned about your loved one’s safety, try texting or emailing them while you’re on the phone with the supposed kidnappers. A similar occurrence happened recently in Kentucky as well. The scammers are hoping to capitalize on you being in an emotional state, but if you just stay calm you can prevent these scammers from terrorizing you.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping   

    What to do when a kidnapper calls! 

    What to do when a kidnapper calls!

    We’ve all seen it in movies or on TV. You receive a phone call from a stranger telling you that a family member has been kidnapped. You’re instructed not to call the police and you have to take a briefcase full of cash to a seedy part of town to make the exchange. In reality, kidnappings for ransom are extremely rare. However, that hasn’t stopped high tech scammers from fleecing victims of their money in what’s being called virtual kidnappings.

    The virtual kidnapping scam works by the scammer calling their victims using a spoofed number to make it look like they’re calling from a relative’s phone. They’ll claim to be kidnappers and that they have taken your relative hostage. They’ll instruct you to not call the police and then have you send them money either by making you buy pre-paid debit cards and giving them the card’s numbers or by having you wire the money somewhere. By the time the ordeal is over, you find out that your relative was never in any danger but the scammers have made off with your money and are virtually untraceable.

    So what should you do if you receive one of these phone calls? Most experts agree that you should hang up immediately and call the police. If you do actually speak on one of these phone calls never give out any personal information especially the name of your relative that they’ve claimed to kidnap. If there’s another avenue of communication available, like another phone, call the loved one in question to make sure they’re ok. The FBI contends that these virtual kidnappings will only become more frequent over time so being prepared will allow you to better recognize one of these calls.

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