4 Tips to Avoid a Kidnapping Scam

Find out how to not fall prey to this extortion hoax.

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The Virtual Phone Scam Targeting Parents (1:53)

There is a horrifying scam targeting families right now known as virtual kidnapping. Con artists call parents pretending to hold their child or children hostage in order to get ransom money from them. Many times, these con men are overseas and obtain information such as where the person lives and their children's ages from social media. They then look up the phone number and their hoax is in action. These people know that they are using every parent's worst fear against them, so it's important to know the warning signs so you can think quickly and protect your family. Sergeant Derrick Levasseur has four quick tips to help you detect a scam. Wondering how to tell if you are involved in a hoax or if your child is actually in danger? Read on.

1. Don't say your child's name. 

Let the alleged kidnapper use their name first to determine whether they even have that information. Frightened parents who spoke to Dr. Oz after almost falling victim to this scheme were desperately trying to find out which of their daughters the criminals had, to the point where they supplied all three names and the con man only had to choose (they were luckily able to confirm their daughter's safety before being duped). Making them provide your child's name is a quick way to test them.

2. Ask specific questions to the child.

Almost all of the time, if it's not a scam and your child is actually in danger, the kidnappers will put your child on the phone and let you speak to them so you know that they are serious. If they put a child on the phone, ask them questions that only they would know the answer to, such as the color of their bedroom walls or their pet's name. 

3. Be suspicious if the ransom quickly drops.

These scammers are trying to get any amount of money from you as quickly as they can. If you're hesitating, they will likely lower the amount they are asking for in an attempt to get a quick payout and hang up. These scams also usually involve a wire transfer out of the country.

4. Use a third-party tracking app. 

Levasseur also recommends using a free third-party tracking app that allows you to locate your loved ones easily. You can see where your family is on a map just by putting in each other's phone numbers. By using this, you can find your family immediately during a call and if they are in danger, the police can use this app to help find them. 


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