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Virtual Kidnapping Ransom Scam Reporting

Taxonomy Code: FN-1700.9300

Programs that provide a hotline, website or other mechanisms that people can use to report situations in which they have been contacted by a scammer informing them that a family member has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. The scam typically begins with a phone call or contact via social media saying a family member is being held captive. The caller may allege their daughter has been kidnapped and they hear a female screaming in the background. Thinking that the voice is their own child, they may blurt out a name such as "Mary". The scammer, now knowing the daughter's name, confirms that, yes, Mary is being held captive and the ransom needs to be paid immediately or the child will be harmed. Another variant of the fraud has a family member being held because he/she caused an auto accident, is injured and won't be allowed to go to the hospital until damages are paid. Callers typically provide the victim with specific instructions to ensure a safe return of the family member. The individual may be ordered to stay on the line until money is wired; and the caller may then claim not to have received the money and may demand additional payment.

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