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Scams that prey upon a parents' fears of kidnapping can be foiled

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In a recent Boston Globe report, recent cyber scams involve preying upon the fears of parents: kidnapping and ransom. According to the story the criminals managed to gather enough personal data points on-line about moms and their children to be convincing. The criminals called the mom while she was at work and told her that her teenage son was in an auto accident and his car was damaged, but if she didn’t pay a ransom he would be shot. She believed them, agreed to pay and gave them her home address before she learned he was being told the same story about her.

Dee Dee Gunther, spokesperson for the Roseville Police Department, wants parents to know that kidnappings by strangers are incredibly rare (usually it is by an estranged or distraught parent or another trusted individual), and if you receive such a threat do not panic.

“We encourage anyone getting such a phone call to ask questions to verify the relative’s identity, stall, get a call back number, and then call their young relative or their parents on their normal phone numbers (not the ones provided by the caller) to ascertain their whereabouts,” she said. “Usually they find that their young relative is fine, at school, work or home, and not far away or out of the country at all.”

Gunther’s tips for parents dealing with kidnapping scammers

  • Have your new teen driver text you when they arrive at their destination, so you know they arrived safely.
  • Collect phone numbers of your kids’ friends, and their parents, in case your child’s phone dies (or whatever) and you need to check on their whereabouts.
  • If your child has an iPhone or other phone with GPS, make sure that their GPS is turned on and the“find my phone” feature is enabled.
  • Report any kind of extortion attempt to police immediately.

Parent Resources

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