San Bernardino County, CA, November 22, 2016 – The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Specialized Investigations Division would like to warn the public of telephone kidnapping scams.
In a typical scenario, people receive a phone call from a person who says a family member is being held hostage, and the caller vows to hurt or kill the hostage unless the caller’s demands are met. Family members will be ordered to collect personal items of value such as jewelry and money. Callers will demand items be left at a designated drop-off point or, to send money through a wire transfer. Family members will be instructed to check into a local hotel nearest the drop off point and wait for further instruction. Callers try to dissuade people from contacting their allegedly “kidnapped” relative.
There are several warning signs to a possible kidnapping scam. The calls will come from a non-local area code such as 775 or 664 or from out of the U.S., not from the phone of the kidnapped victim. Callers will try to keep people on the phone for as long as possible.
Investigators suggest asking to speak to the kidnap victim and to “listen carefully” to verify whether it is a family member. The public is urged not to send money or provide financial information to an unfamiliar person, especially unsolicited phone calls or emails. Do not provide names of family members or cell phone numbers to callers. Contact your local law enforcement agency or 911 immediately to report any incidents.