The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office warned the public of a scam that was recently reported to law enforcement.
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that a member of the public recently reported a virtual kidnapping ransom scam, which is one tactic scammers use to scam victims of money. The same type of scam has been reported nationwide and is not isolated to Tennessee.
The sheriff’s office warned that “the scam typically begins with a phone call saying your family member is being held captive. The caller may allege your daughter has been kidnapped and you hear a female screaming in the background. Another variant of the fraud has a family member being held because he/she caused an auto accident, is injured and won’t be allowed to go to the hospital until damages are paid.”
To receive their desired payment, the callers will “typically provide the victim with specific instructions to ensure a safe return of the family member,” the sheriff’s office notes. In addition, victims are sometimes ordered to stay on the line until the money is wired and even then, the caller may claim not to have received the money and may demand more payment.
The scam has been around for years; however, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues to warn and provide the public with tips and advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of the scam.
Virtual Kidnapping for Ransom is a telephone extortion scheme that tricks victims into believing a loved one has been kidnapped. If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, or know someone who has, a complaint can be filed here: https://t.co/zshrABQwUC. pic.twitter.com/WWXS4d887J
— FBI Los Angeles (@FBILosAngeles) April 8, 2020
According to the FBI, the public should take notice of the following indicators to avoid becoming a victim of the extortion scheme:
- Incoming calls come from an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856).
- Calls do not come from the alleged 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.
In addition, the FBI notes that to help prevent this scam, the public should “check privacy settings on social media accounts and revisit the information you publicize on those accounts.”
“The more information available to the public, the more information scammers can use to convince you into believing a scam is real,” the FBI adds.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Person on Phone” by The New School. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.