A reported kidnapping in which a Purcell family was targeted turned out to be a scam, according to police.
The “kidnapper” told a local couple they were holding the couple’s daughter and her children for ransom. If the ransom wasn’t paid, the kidnap victims would be killed.
According to Det. Sgt. Scott Stephens, the alleged victims were later found to be safe at home.
Scammers have used varying scenarios when perpetrating this across the country.
Stephens noted that the ransom calls are often placed from prepaid cell phones. Many of the calls originate in Mexico and caller ID will show 52, the Mexican international calling code.
Some scammers claim to be part of a violent Mexican criminal organization.
They may spoof the alleged hostage’s phone number so it appears the hostage is making the call.
The scammers use information about the family gleaned from social media and during the call, an accomplice matching the hostage’s gender may be heard crying or screaming in the background..
It’s all about the ransom and payment may be demanded as a wire transfer, mobile phone apps or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
Also, the scammer may try to keep the target on the phone as the ransom is paid. This is to prevent them from calling the “hostage” or police.
If you receive such a call, it is most likely a scam. Still, there are helpful suggestions if you find yourself on the receiving end of such a call.
Stephens also recommends checking your security settings with your social media sites. There are usually guides or settings to make posts more private by sharing information only with known friends and family.