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  • Geebo 8:17 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , virtual kidnapping   

    Kidnapping scam becomes even scarier 

    Kidnapping scam becomes even scarier

    By Greg Collier

    The reason the virtual kidnapping scam is named that way is because the kidnapping victim is virtual. In essence, there is no kidnapping victim. However, that hasn’t stopped scammers from scaring families into making ransom payments for someone who was never in any danger. For new readers, in this scam, the scammers will call someone and claim to have kidnapped one of their loved ones. The scammers will even have someone screaming or crying in the background to make the call seem real. The victim of the scam will then be instructed to make a payment through untraceable means like gift cards, money transfer, prepaid debit card, or cryptocurrency. By the time the victim figures out that there was no kidnapping, the scammers are long gone with the victim’s money.

    Unfortunately, not everyone has been educated about this scam. Recently, a couple in South Florida received such a call telling them that their daughter had been kidnapped. The callers made threatened to murder their daughter if they didn’t pay $1500 in ransom. What made this call particularly terrifying was that the call appeared to be coming from the daughter’s phone. It wasn’t, though. The scammers had spoofed the daughter’s phone number which is concerning in itself. Luckily, the couple reached out to a friend they have in law enforcement who informed them this was a scam. It’s unknown how the scammers were able to obtain the daughter’s phone number.

    Scammers use tactics like this to catch you off guard to say the least. They want you to think emotionally rather than logically. The more emotionally charged the scenario is, the more likely the scammers are able to convince a victim into making a payment. If you ever receive a call like this don’t give the scammers any personal information. If they say they have your daughter, for example, don’t say your daughter’s name. Then have someone else contact the person the callers claim to have kidnapped. More often than not, that person will be just fine and will have no idea that people are claiming that they’re holding them hostage.

    Remember, kidnapping for ransom in the United States is extremely rare, but is kept in the public’s consciousness thanks to popular media.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on March 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping, ,   

    Woman thwarts virtual kidnapping scam 

    Woman thwarts virtual kidnapping scam

    By Greg Collier

    We often talk about how someone gets taken advantage of in a scam and use it as a way to educate our readers on how to avoid scams. It’s not very often we discuss someone who realized it was a scam before they end up losing thousands of dollars, but that’s the story we have today.

    A woman in Spokane, Washington received a phone call with someone claiming that her sister had been injured and that the woman needed to come get her. She asked the person on the other line if police had been involved yet and the caller’s disposition quickly changed.

    The caller then said that the woman’s sister ‘stuck her nose where it didn’t belong’ and that he needed to ‘rough her up a little’. The caller then demanded a $10,000 ransom, or he was going to sell the woman’s sister to a human trafficking ring overseas. Then the caller threatened violence against the woman if she didn’t cooperate.

    The Spokane woman asked to speak to her sister and a woman got on the line and mentioned the woman’s name, but that was about it. The woman wasn’t convinced that was her sister. She asked to talk to her some more to verify a few things, but the caller refused. She told the caller that they wouldn’t get any money unless she saw her sister. It was when the caller asked her to wire money to them, she realized it was a scam.

    We have to applaud this woman for being so tenacious about getting proof that this was actually her sister or not. In addition, she did the right things when confronted with a scam like this. She demanded verifiable proof and when she didn’t get it she stood up to the scammers.

    If you encounter this situation, there are also a few other things you can do. One is to ask the person who’s supposedly kidnapped a question that only they would know. Additionally, you can set up a safe word in advance. However, the first thing you should do, if you can, is try to contact the person they’ve supposedly kidnapped. In most if not all cases, you’ll find that the person is safe and sound.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alaska, , , , , virtual kidnapping   

    Scammers use missing persons to commit fraud 

    Scammers use missing persons to commit fraud

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve often said that scammers will stoop to any lengths to try to get one over on their victims. We also say that scammers will try to take advantage of any kind of tragedy to make a quick buck. Now, think of one of the worst tragedies that can befall a family. Then imagine that family having to deal with a scammer that’s trying to take advantage of that tragedy. That’s what’s been happening to many families in Alaska.

    Due to the sheer amount of untamed wilderness that Alaska has, the state has an inordinate amount of missing persons cases per capita. This has led to scammers trying to extort money out of the families involved in these cases. Even we were taken aback when we read about this scam as it’s beyond cruel.

    The scammers take to social media looking for posts that deal with a missing person. They’ll then use that information to contact the missing person’s family. The scammers will say that they are holding the missing person hostage and that the missing person is now ill. The family will be instructed not to contact police and that their loved one will be released if they make a ransom payment. The ransom payment is then demanded to be paid through a payment app like PayPal or Cash App.

    This is a variation of the virtual kidnapping scam with the only difference being is that the person being used in the scam is actually missing. The reason this particular scam is doubly cruel is that not only are the scammers harassing an already distraught family but in some cases, it’s giving them a false sense of hope that they may be getting their family member back.

    Whenever one of these scams come up, we like to remind our readers that kidnapping for ransom is actually very rare in the US.

    We hope that anyone reading this never has to deal with a missing person in their family. However, if the unthinkable happens, and then you receive a scam call like this, you should contact your local police immediately.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , virtual kidnapping   

    When the grandparent scam meets virtual kidnappings 

    By Greg Collier

    We love it when scammers get extra creative and combine two scams into one new super-scam. And by love it we actually mean we despise it. At least one creative scammer has combine two of the more disturbing scams, making it an almost infallible scam. Not to heap any more ‘praise’ on this scammer, but they could potentially be the super villain of scam artists.

    This particular scammer combined the grandparent scam along with the virtual kidnapping scam. The grandparent scam is more well-known. This is where scammers call elderly victims and pose as a grandchild who is looking for some kind of emergency money. Usually, it’s supposed to be for bail money, but scammers have used various stories to try to get money from their victims.

    The virtual kidnapping scam is even more distressing for its victims. This is where scammers will have claimed to have kidnapped one of the victim’s family members. They’ll pressure the victim to keep them on the phone while trying to get them to make a phony ransom payment usually through gift cards or money transfers. Meanwhile, the supposed kidnap victim is actually safe and sound.

    This scammer targeted an elderly woman from Alabama. The scammer told the woman that they had her granddaughter hostage because she witnessed a drug deal. The scammer also told her that he was watching her every move. He then instructed her to make a money transfer to Mexico at Walmart. Even though the woman thought the threat was real she did two things that probably saved her from losing substantial amounts of money.

    She first tried to locate her granddaughter, and when she couldn’t, she contacted her local police. The woman even bravely stood up to the scammers telling them to bring her granddaughter to the Walmart if they have her. Luck was even more on the woman’s side when the money transfer service at Walmart was down.

    In the case of either scam or the new super-scam, your best bet is to try to locate the person who the caller is claiming is in trouble. While a grandchild could potentially have ended up in jail, nothing says that you can’t verify their story. Your grandchild won’t be in more trouble if you do. And as we always like to say about the virtual kidnapping scam, kidnappings for ransom are very rare in the US and the scammers are preying on people’s fears about what they see in entertainment.

    Always take a step back from the situation for a moment and try to regain your composure when dealing with these scammers. Also, never volunteer any information like a loved one’s name as scammers will be quick to use that to their advantage.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , virtual kidnapping   

    No, a hitman is not coming for you 

    No, a hitman is not coming for you

    Two of the more disturbing scams to be a victim of are the cartel scam and the virtual kidnapping scam. Both of these scams use threats of violence to try to get a victim to make a large payment to the scammer while under duress. However, the victim is usually in no real danger. It’s this kind of subterfuge that scammers will stoop to in order to deceive their victims.

    In the virtual kidnapping scam, the scammer will claim to have one of your loved ones held hostage. In reality, the person is unharmed. With the cartel scam, the scammers will send you violent and graphic images while threatening this will happen to you if you don’t pay them. As the name suggests, the scammers pose as a criminal cartel. Now, there are reports of a new scam that have similar vibes to these two.

    In this new scam, the victim will receive a message claiming to be from an actual hitman. The elaborate message states that they were instructed to kill you, but the hitman has had a change of heart. However, in order to call off the hit, the victim needs to pay off the hitman.

    If you receive one of these messages, the odds are pretty good that you’re in no actual danger. This scam is using the movie idea of a hitman to threaten the victims into paying. Much like how kidnappings for ransom in America usually only happen on TV, hitmen are very unlikely to message their targets. Actual hitmen tend to be employed by organized crime while their targets tend to be from rival crime factions.

    If you do receive one of these messages, you are asked to report them to your local police or the FTC’s Fraud Website.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping   

    Kidnapping scam threatens to sell your family’s organs 

    Kidnapping scam threatens to sell your family's organs

    The virtual kidnapping scam is probably one of the more disturbing scams we’ve discussed here. If you’re unfamiliar with the scam, the virtual kidnapping scam is when a scammer calls a victim and claims to have one of the victim’s loved ones held hostage. The scammers will usually embellish the scam by having someone screaming in the background. Then a ransom will be demanded for the release of the loved one. Usually, the payment is requested in some form of untraceable payment like gift cards or a money transfer. Meanwhile, the supposed hostage is safe and unaware of what’s going on.

    A man in Michigan recently received one of these distressing calls. The man on the other end of the call said that the man’s son had been in a car accident and the caller was holding the teen hostage. Instead of falling for the scam, the Michigan man did the right thing by getting police involved. Local police were able to locate the boy at a friend’s home. Knowing that his son was safe, the man asked the caller to speak to his son. The caller then threatened the man by saying that he was going to take his son to the border and sell his organs. Even knowing that his son was safe, this had to be harrowing to hear from a total stranger.

    As we’ve discussed in the past, kidnappings for ransom are actually rare in the United States. However, your reaction to this scam should always be the same. Remain calm and locate the person the callers are claiming to have kidnapped. In cases like this where a car accident has been claimed, you can call police, and they’ll be able to tell you if a crash actually happened. Also, you should avoid giving the caller any personal information. If they say they have someone in your family, ask them who it is rather than asking if they have your 17-year-old daughter for example. The scammers will just use that information to their advantage. Lastly, you should always contact the police even if your loved one is safe to let them know this scam is making its way through your area.

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

     
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