FBI warns public in regards Virtual kidnapping scams that have scared people into paying thousands of dollars in ransom money.
The FBI and LAPD announcement, they have seen an increase in the crimes “Virtual Kidnapping Scams” for the past couple of years, which involve criminals calling people over the phone and telling them that they are holding a family member of theirs hostage. Usually, the calls are random, but in some cases, the criminals have researched their victims through social media, NBC news reported.
Between 2015 to 2017, Los Angeles Police have reported 252 incidents and victims have paid ransom more than $114,000 only to find out later that their relatives were never in danger. Frequently criminals pick any area code and make random calls, and when someone answers they claim they have a family member of theirs, often a child, and that they will kill them if they don’t send them money immediately. If the victim does not believe and hangs up, the criminals just move on to the next number until they find somebody who believes them.
“They might have someone in the background screaming to imitate their child,” said LAPD Capt. William Hayes at the conference at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. “Then they would talk about taking fingers, killing them. That’s not so important if you’re a parent to know that you’ll want to do anything to protect your child.”
Authorities believe many of the criminals involved in the calls are making from Mexico and FBI warns public if anyone receives a similar call should hang up and attempt to reach the missing family member before calling the police.
Last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a Houston woman, Yanette Rodriguez Acosta in Texas and indicted on ten counts in relation to some alleged virtual kidnappings in Minnesota, California, Texas, and Idaho.