Virtual Kidnapping Scam

A “Virtual Kidnapping Scam” was attempted this weekend here in our county. The scammers were armed with a wealth of personal information on the subject (likely gleaned from social media). A second attempt was reported to us this morning, so it is a good time to review this scam so that our community is armed with the information needed to prevent being victimized.

First, you receive a call from an unknown number. The scammer says, “I’ve kidnapped your relative,” and names a brother, sister, child or parent. “Send ransom immediately by wire transfer or prepaid card,” they say, “or something bad will happen.” They didn’t kidnap anyone, but they hope you’ll panic and rush to pay ransom before checking the story. To stop you from checking out the story, scammers order you to stay on the phone until the money is sent. There’s pressure to pay quickly, and the caller says not to contact anyone. And, of course, scammers demand payment by wire transfer or prepaid cards, because it’s difficult to trace or recover money sent that way.

The FBI calls this scam virtual kidnapping. Scammers scour the internet and social media sites, grabbing information about where people live, work, or travel, and names of friends and family. The cons use the details to pick a target and make their calls sound credible. To cut down on the information that scammers can find, think about limiting access to your networking pages — and encourage your family to do the same.

If you get a call like this, remember that it’s fake, no matter how scary it sounds. Even if it feels really real, never wire money or pay by prepaid card to anyone who asks you to. If you’re worried about the call, get off the phone and get in touch with the relative or friend in question – just to reassure yourself. And then report it to the FTC. Never hesitate to contact us if you are concerned for a loved ones’ safety our non-emergency number is 941-639-0013.

Information for this article excerpted from 

3 thoughts on “Virtual Kidnapping Scam

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  1. Recently I had purchased a Samsung TracFone I took it back because it was sending SOS messages while the phone had originally been turned off it would turn itself on send SOS messages to both my children with blank black screen saying I needed help I took it back got rid of that phone got a different phone my daughter said as I was handing that phone back in she got a message with a man with a beard saying that I needed help I think this probably falls into what you were talking about scamming thank you for posting

  2. The only information they needed was my phone number and a nearby town. The scammer asked if a had a family member that was driving near Port Charlotte today. I gave a description of my daughter’s car and they said that was her. They told me that my daughter ran into a little girl (his niece) and that his brother instinctively attacked my daughter and broke her jaw because he was a bad man. Then, he said they were holding my daughter ransom. Thankfully, I had texted my wife earlier, as it took the caller several tries to get through to me due to bad cell coverage. My wife texted my daughter to see how she was and my daughter was safe in school. My daughter texted me, as this person was beginning to demand payment, to let me know she was ok.

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