The Latest Phone Scam is a Fake Kidnapping Scheme

The Sheriff’s Department has received the report of several calls to area residents where the caller asks for ransom for a loved one.

This scam call usually starts with a person screaming and pleading for their life. The caller then gets on the line and demands a large sum of money for the safe return of a family member. Usually a local meeting place is set up for the exchange of cash for the family member.

While these calls can be quite frightening, there are keys to look for to determine it is a scam:

1. The person being held is not specifically named. Do NOT offer a name. 
2. The kidnapper will settle for a lesser amount of money than was originally demanded. 
3. The caller has no real idea who they are calling. If the caller didn’t ask for a specific person to talk to, they are just phishing.

During these calls it is quite easy to get caught up on the drama and give information to the caller which they then use to enhance the believably of the fraud. The caller may refer to their hostage as “your daughter” or “your mother” waiting for a name to be said.

Once they scammer has that it is easy for them to build their lies and be even more convincing.

There are many things to NOT do when you receive any sort of phone call:

1. Do NOT volunteer your name or the names of any family members
2. NEVER give out your bank’s name, any account numbers, your Social Security Number or you birth date. 
3. Do NOT engage the caller or try to outsmart them. This is their job and they are good at tricking people. Just hang up. 
4. Do NOT try to call the number on your caller ID back. This just exposes you to more badgering and tells them they have found someone who will “play the game” with them.
5. Do NOT answer a call from the same number again. If the calling continues, contact your phone carrier to have the number blocked or use the block features in your phone.

The biggest defense in any scam is to simply ask yourself questions: Did the caller say the name of the person that has been kidnapped? Did the caller address me by name? Did they know something about me, or did I blurt it out them?

Thinking about these questions also gives the person receiving the call time to calm down and determine if this seems legitimate or not. But once the call appears to a scam, hang up.

Just remember, the IRS does not call people about their taxes. The Social Security Administration does not call and offer anyone a new Social Security number. The Madison Sheriff’s Department never calls people demanding money and threatening jail.

Feel free to reach out to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department at (402) 454-2110 or your local law enforcement agency with any questions about suspicions calls.