Scams This Week 1/4/23

January 4, 2023

It’s a scary call to get. “I have your son and you have to pay or you will never see him again!” What’s more scary that this type of attack is targeted. A woman recently reached out to Det. Brad Thorne after receiving this call. She admitted that it was scary, but she knew about scams like this and that helped her avoid becoming a victim.

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Kidnapping Phone Scam Targeting Parents: The scammers have done enough research to know locations and names. It’s done through social media mostly because we tend to post a lot about our lives. The threat of someone attacking your child will cause panic and interrupt your thought process. While there are different iterations of this scam, they all start with a phone call or text message from someone posing as a family member, often a grandchild or child. The emergency can vary from being stuck in a different state, or country, or being arrested and hurt. This is a way to elicit a panic response as well as add urgency. Most parents and grandparents would do anything to help a family member in trouble. Scammers will tap into that protective emotion, and explain that you can tell no one else.

It’s very to Stop-Question and Confirm.

  • First, think about where should your child or grandchild be. Why would they be calling you? Are you able to talk to them?
  • Does it sound like the family member or have they made an excuse as to why their voice sounds different?
  • Can they provide more information that only that family member would know? Ask about things that can not be found on social media, like a nickname or pet's name, or a former pet from years ago.
  • Be skeptical. Call the family member on their phone, or their parent or sibling.
  • If the family member is expected to be in school, contact the school or School Resource Officer to locate them.
  • If the scammer is posing as Law Enforcement and asks for money know that is a scam.  LE will not take forms of payment like cryptocurrency, gift cards, or any Peer-2-Peer payments (Zelle, Venmo).
  • They would also not take payment over the phone.
  • Hang up and call your local police department. You can always call the agency the scammer is posing as to confirm. If the scammer is using a specific government agency or the name of an officer, let local police follow up.

In the case of the local woman targeted by this scam, she stopped, questioned and called her child’s school to confirm they were safe. Then she posted about it so others could become more aware of this scam! Scams keep evolving so keep spreading awareness.

Find more scam prevention tips on our website.

You can add Det. Thorne on Facebook or follow @DetThorneBPD on Twitter.

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

(208) 570-6180 | BPDMedialine@cityofboise.org

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