“Virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart,” the FBI says.
The FBI is warning of a scam involving an English-language extortion call from Mexico to U.S. victims with no connections or ties to Mexico, the Indianapolis Star reports. The call asserts that a loved one is in danger, as a means to scam ransom money from bank accounts. The FBI says people should fight back against “virtual kidnapping.”
“Although virtual kidnapping takes on many forms, it is always an extortion scheme, one that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is being threatened with violence or death,” said the FBI’s Chris Bavender. “Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart.” Scam indicators include callers going to great lengths to keep targets on the line; calls not being placed from the phone of the alleged victim; callers trying to prevent targets from contacting the “kidnapped” victim; and callers pushing for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer to Mexico. Officials said in most cases, the best way to handle it is by hanging up the phone. If you do engage the caller, don’t say your loved one’s name and ask questions that only the loved one would know.