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LVMPD warns of 'virtual kidnapping' scheme

Posted at 4:38 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 09:31:03-05

Las Vegas police are alerting the public to a wire money scheme.

These events are referred to as “virtual kidnappings.” In this scheme, individuals call unsuspecting victims claiming to have kidnapped a family member, usually a child, while no actual kidnapping has taken place.

The caller tells the victim they have a family member, threatens to harm or even kill them, and makes a ransom demand to be paid typically via wire transfer.

The suspects often use children as decoys in the scheme and have a child crying in the background and yelling for a family member.

In several cases, the suspects have used social media to learn about their victims prior to initiating the phone call.

Typically, the suspect will try to keep the victim on the phone until the transaction is completed and before the parent or guardian has a chance to confirm their child is unharmed. Later, the victim learns their child or relative was never in danger; however, the suspect has already accepted the wire transfer.

Look for these possible indicators:

- Incoming calls are usually from an unknown or international phone number

- Callers go to great lengths to keep victims on the phone

- The suspect will demand money via electronic wire transfer

- Victim is prevented from calling or locating the “kidnap victim”

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of ransom for a
kidnapped victim, consider the following:

- Try to slow the conversation and request to speak directly with the alleged kidnap

- Listen very carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak

- Attempt to contact/locate family member who has been alleged to have been
kidnapped as this is a key step.

- Contact the police.