Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

Another Evolution In Scamming Are Kidnapping ScamsKidnapping Scams Scammers may call you claiming to have kidnapped family members. They often use stolen information and spoof the family member's phone to make the scenario seem more realistic

Scammers Connect Via A Fake Profile That Then Says They Have Been Kidnapped

It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but it’s hitting homes across the country: “virtual kidnapping,” where fraudsters try to extort money by claiming that a family member has been taken hostage.

This fear-provoking fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. isn’t new; there was a nationwide wave of similar calls two years ago in which swindlers usually claimed a loved one was being held after causing a traffic accident and refusing to pay for damages. But in recent weeks, the scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. has exploded — and this go-round has been refined with more convincing “legitimacy.”

The scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. first establishes a relationship with the prospect victim, then after time, instead of simply asking for money as usual, says here or she has been kidnapped. They say they are being held by

[fill in the blank] – terrorist, criminals, guerrillas, mafia, or the man on the moon.

Unfortunately, this is all designed to quickly overcome the victim and force them to send money to the scammers. Because this is a very rapid close, the victim has little or no time to think. The scammers also threaten the victim and his/her family. 

The good news is that it is all a scam.

What makes it so compelling is that there are kidnappings all over the world, and it is engineered to look like a real kidnapping.

How It Works

“A caller might attempt to convince a victim that his daughter was kidnapped by having a young female scream for help in the background during the call,” reports the FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud., which issued a Jan. 13 warning about an increase in this scheme in New York City. (That week, one New Jersey man paid $7,200 after being told that his father was being held.)

“Often the reason they are holding the alleged victim varies, but some of the most prominent scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. involve car accidents, drug debts, gangGang A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested. assaults or persons being smuggled across the border,” the FBI states.

How They Find You?

Names and phone numbers are gleaned from people-search websites, online directories or social media. An accomplice provides the voice-over. In fact, calls sometimes originate in Puerto Rico, according to the FBI, and the dialing kidnapper (and alleged hostage) may even be outside the U.S.

But it’s a familiar and profitable formula, especially when the targets are those 50 and older. Trying to provoke fear is at the root of most top scams reported to our Fraud Watch Network, and historically those over age 50 are more likely than others to lose money in intimidation scams.

Still not enough to convince you that your loved one wasn’t actually kidnapped? Look for these scam-busting clues so you can hang up your phone even more quickly:

  • Your caller ID indicates that the call is coming from an outside area code. Area codes 787 and 939 are for Puerto Rico.
  • Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone.
  • Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone but refuse to let you speak with the hostage.
  • RansomRansom