ASU police are warning parents of a “virtual kidnapping” scam after a parent let them know she got a phone call from someone claiming to have kidnapped her daughter.
The parent, who lives in Southern California, said the caller made up a story saying her daughter witnessed a murder, and if she wanted her back, she’d have to pay up.
It turns out her daughter was safely in class at ASU.
Police say calls like this are often scams.
The caller won’t let you off the phone, saying they have the loved one’s cell phone, and if you try to call, they threaten to hurt the loved one.
“Try and buy as much time as you can,” said Officer Daniel Miller with the ASU Police Department. ”The more time you have, the more opportunity you have to develop a plan of action. Some of those opportunities that you should take are try and get in touch with that loved one maybe through social media, texting or calling from another phone.”
In this case, the caller kept the parent on the phone for more than 20 minutes as she went to a bank and wrote the tellers notes about what was happening—all as the caller remained on the phone to hear what was going on. Bank staff called police, who called the woman’s husband, and he called the daughter’s phone.
The woman said she believes the call was random because the caller didn’t give personal information, but police say scammers often find information about you on social media, so they advise people to secure their privacy settings.
Report calls like this to police immediately.