During the call, people are reporting the caller saying their child has been kidnapped and demanding a ransom. The reporting parties noted they heard background screaming and other possibly recorded noise. The calls seem to be coming from a foreign number, possibly Mexico, beginning with a country code of +52 according to the sheriff.
KCSO wants people to know virtual kidnapping is an extortion scam where a caller pretends to have kidnapped a child or relative in order to get a payment. The scammers often make it look like they know details about your loved ones, or they threaten extreme violence against the victim and imply hacking your cell phone.
The FBI recommends looking for possible indicators of a scam to avoid becoming a victim:
- Incoming calls from an outside area code, or foreign telephone number.
- Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone.
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone.
- Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim.
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service.
If you receive a virtual kidnapping phone call:
- Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How
do I know my loved one is okay?”
- If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe
the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
- Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak
- Attempt to call, text, or contact the victim via social media. Request the victim to cal.l
back from his or her cell phone.
- While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.