The Everett Police Department and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are warning citizens about a kidnapping scam going around in the county and the city.
The police agencies say that people have been receiving a phone call where the caller claims that they have kidnapped a child or other relative and demand a ransom. To add a sense of realism, the victim can hear someone screaming in the background.
Several citizens have reported receiving a call from the scammer. The caller is always male and the victims all heard screaming in the background. In one case, an Everett resident had been told that his 23-year-old daughter had been kidnapped and the caller demanded $30,000 in ransom.
The police agencies also note that the calls come from area codes in Mexico (525 and 528). In June of 2016, the FBI noted similar false kidnapping calls (called in the area as “virtual kidnapping” extortion calls) in the San Antonio, Texas area.
The FBI provided the following guidance should you receive a kidnapping call.
To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:
· Calls are usually made from an outside area code
· May involve multiple phone calls
· Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone
· 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 a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:
· Stay calm.
· Try to slow the situation down.
· Avoid sharing information about you or your family during the call.
· Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
· Request the kidnapped victim call back from his/her cell phone.
· Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak, and ask questions only they would know.
· If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
· While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
· Attempt to text, or contact the victim via social media.
· Attempt to physically locate the victim.
· To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
· Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
Everett PD and the Sheriff’s Office recommends the following:
· Try to write down the number of the caller, then hang up.
· If you cannot immediately verify the whereabouts of your allegedly kidnapped family member, call 911 and ask for assistance from law enforcement.
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office/Everett Police Department: