Wave of ‘virtual kidnappings’ strikes New York

WASHINGTON (TIP) : A new breed of self-professed kidnappers in New York is not actually kidnapping anyone, says the FBI. Receiving a phone call from an unknown number and hearing a foreign voice saying a loved one has been kidnapped and will be killed unless they get a ransom would be enough to send anyone this side of Taken’s Liam Neeson into a panic.

Well, the FBI and New York Police Department have said panicking is the last thing you should do if you receive such a call. The phone call could very well be a troubling new scam that is growing in popularity. The scam has been dubbed virtual kidnapping and involves calling a random person and telling them that person a friend or family member has been kidnapped, and scaring them into paying a ransom. The only thing is, no one has been kidnapped.

Virtual kidnapping may sound ridiculous, but the FBI has issued a warning that it is on the rise in New York.

Reported scams have included the kidnapping scenario, complete with a screaming pseudo-victim in the background, and a phone call saying that a family member has been involved in a car accident with a gang member and needs to go to the hospital, but will not be allowed to go until the gang member is paid for damages to the car.

Of course, there is no kidnapping victim or car accident in these scams. The person on the other end of the phone just wants the money, between $600 and $1,900 in cases that have been reported, according to the FBI. “This is a scheme that takes advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in New York City,” FBI assistant director, George Venizelos, said in a statement. “We need the public to be aware of this scam and call us if they have been a victim.”

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