Parenthood
Mother of daughter targeted by newest kidnapping scam urges other parents to watch out
The FBI has also released a warning.
Luis Gaskell
09.26.22

It seems like people nowadays are getting craftier and craftier with all the ways they can get money out of you. Scam emails, scam texts, and even pretending to be someone you know.

This new one has some people’s attention because it’s really scary if a little clever.

“Virtual kidnapping” is the latest scheme that scammers are using to get money out of you.

Pexels - Antoni Shkraba
Source:
Pexels - Antoni Shkraba

It’s pretty scummy – even more than previous scamming methods. The scammer convinces you they have one of your loved ones hostage.

The crafty bit is when they play the sound of a struggling person over the phone.

Pexels - Andrea Piacquadio
Source:
Pexels - Andrea Piacquadio

No one knows if they use pre-recorded audio for this, or have a cooperator acting like your loved one. Either way, this is the bit that really convinces people.

Leslie Waters of Auburn, Alabama was one of the victims of this new trend.

It happened on a Friday. She received a phone call from a man with a “foreign accent”, and could hear the sounds of a distressed child on the other end.

“He called me by name. And he said, ‘I have your daughter and if you do what I say, I won’t kill her.'” – she said

Pexels - Karolina Grabowska
Source:
Pexels - Karolina Grabowska

She was alarmed but knew something was off. So she spent more time listening and stalling for time until her husband arrived.

The call was convincing, and she might have fallen for it and given the money if not for her faith in her daughter’s safety.

She knew that the security at her daughter’s school was too effective for this to happen. Waters called her husband on the landline to ask him to check for her, and he confirmed their daughter was fine.

Waters could have genuinely fallen for it and sent the money if it weren’t for that. But others aren’t so lucky.

Lesley Mumford had the same thing happen to her. This time, the caller claimed to have her mother.

He also faked the sounds of a struggling loved one. Mumford said she heard “crying and scuffling”. Of course, this scared her quite a bit.

“And then finally, a man came on the phone with a real deep voice and he said, ‘Do you hear that? She needs your help.'” – Mumford recalled

Pexels - lil artsy
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Pexels - lil artsy

The caller threatened to kill her mother and himself if she didn’t cooperate.

So in a panic, Mumford followed the caller’s demands and transferred a painful sum of money to his account. About $900 to be exact.

Eventually, Mumford called her mother to ask if she was okay. Her mother, confused, said she was fine and was at work. She had no idea what Mumford was talking about.

Of course, Mumford was devastated. That’s $900 she’s not getting back.

Authorities have had to get the word out quickly about these kinds of scam calls.

With this technique being fresh and new, most people are likely to fall for it.

Pexels - Pixabay
Source:
Pexels - Pixabay

Especially since it preys on their fear, and we all know how badly people make decisions when they’re scared.

It seems like many of these calls come from Mexico. The scammers even occasionally demand that someone cross the border to send the money.

Should you get any of these calls, it’s imperative that you remain calm and try to contact the loved one they claim to have.

Pexels - Vlada Karpovich
Source:
Pexels - Vlada Karpovich

You can contact law enforcement and see if they can trace the call. And most importantly, don’t give in to the demands or give any personal information.

Learn more about “virtual kidnapping” in the video below.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Luis Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Luis Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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