Last week, Mountain View police responded to two separate reports of a telephone scam involving a demand for money in exchange for the safety of a loved one who had either been purportedly kidnapped or involved in a traffic collision.
In the first case, a mother feared for her daughter’s safety after a man called her and told her that her daughter had been kidnapped. The man said if the mother wanted to see her daughter again, she would wire him over $1,000 to a provided account.
In the second case, we received a call from a husband and wife who said they had been contacted and told their son had been involved in a car crash. The caller stated the family owed money to cover the medical costs for a victim involved in the crash. The family was instructed to transfer over $900 to an account.
Fortunately, in both cases, the children of those who were called were ok. Unfortunately, in both cases, the victims transferred money to the unidentified suspect.
In both of these cases, the suspect typically gives their victim instructions that requires the victim to stay on the phone until all the payment they are seeking is received. The suspect can intimidate the victim by saying their loved one could or will face harm if the victim doesn’t comply with the transferring of funds. But, in truth, a victim’s loved one has not been involved in any traffic collision, has not been kidnapped, and was never in any danger.
We wanted to just take a moment to remind folks to always be skeptical when receiving unsolicited calls from strangers demanding money. If you do receive a call like this, we can understand that it could be scary and worrisome. Here are some tips to try and prevent yourself from becoming a victim:
-- Request to speak to the victim directly. State you cannot do anything else until you can confirm your loved one is ok.
-- If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or their vehicle in detail.
-- Try to call, text, or contact your loved one via social media while staying on the line with the suspect.
-- To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand and that it could take time to get their request in order.
Remember, if at any point you feel this may be a scam, hang up. Then, call us immediately at 650.903.6395. You can also file a complaint with the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1