SCHERTZ, Texas – Schertz police are warning about a phone scam targeting innocent victims by claiming that family members are being held captive and demanding money for their release.
Officials said they received multiple reports on Wednesday of the ‘Virtual Kidnapping Ransom Scam” calls.
“Unfortunately, today many people prey upon the innocent,” SPD said in a statement.
Police said the scam callers are telling people that their family member has been kidnapped and that in order to release them, they need to send money.
The phone scam victim may also hear actors screaming in the background of the call, making it seem like an actual kidnapping scenario, according to SPD.
Schertz police said the scam caller will urge the victim to stay on the phone as they transfer over the money, to “prevent the victim from calling 911 or checking on the loved one.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are a few key indicators you can look for to verify that it’s a scam:
- Incoming calls from an outside area code (sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes 787, 939, and 856.
- Calls do not come from the alleged kidnapped victim’s phone number.
- Callers go to “great lengths” to keep you on the phone
- Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim.
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service.
If you receive one of these calls, here’s what to do, according to the NIH:
- Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
- If the callers don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle the victim drives, if applicable.
- Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if he/she speaks.
- Attempt to call, text, or contact the alleged victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cellphone.
- While staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
- To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing. down the demand, or tell the caller you need additional time to meet their demands.
- Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
- Request the alleged kidnapper to allow the victim to call you back from his/her cellphone.
If you receive one of these scam calls, be sure to report it to your local police department. To learn more about this scam, follow this link.