The kidnapping scam was first reported earlier this month in Washington state. Here's what parents need to know.
Families in Seattle, Washington are reeling after being targeted by scammers who told them that their child had been kidnapped. A mom named Kelly Nelson explained to Q13 FOX that she received a call from a blocked number. When she answered, she heard what sounded like a young girl crying out for help.
“When I heard the child screaming, I thought something was happening at her school like one of those awful shooting phone calls,” Kelly told the news outlet on Wednesday, March 14. “And that was when the man got on the phone and said, ‘Is this Kelly? We have (your daughter) Rebecca. My guys were doing a job on a doctor and she saw something she shouldn't have seen. And she started to scream and they grabbed her.' He says to me, 'Get your purse and get your keys and get in your car.'"
Nelson said the man kept hanging up and calling her back with more threats. That's when Nelson's husband called 911, which called the school and confirmed that their daughter was safe and in class. What a complete nightmare.
And this isn't the only incident of its kind that has occurred in the area. According to ABC News, a dad was called by a woman pretending to be his daughter, who claimed to have been kidnapped. Again, the call came in from a blocked number. A man got on the phone and said he would hurt the girl if he did not get money. The father then confirmed with his daughter's school that she was present, accounted for, and safe.
Sergeant Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office told ABC he believes the scammers are using social media to research the victims and gather information, such as the names of their children. “Unfortunately, it’s not just kids, parents are guilty of having too much personal information online,” Abbott noted.
Abbott also said he believes that the parents involved in both incidents did the right thing by calling their children's schools, and he advises parents who are confronted with a situation like this to never provide money to anyone over the phone. “Listen to what they’re saying, be aware of it, take down as much information as you can," he tells ABC. "And call 911 to let us know what’s going on.”