Beware Kidnapping Phone Scam Alert Alamogordo Citizens Falling Victim
Artificial intelligence is allowing scammers to clone your loved one’s voice. It could make a fake kidnapping call sound real per the FBI.
This weekend a local business owner fell prey to a phone scam while traveling involving a ruse about his daughter being kidnapped.
Locals and most especially seniors beware!
The scam reported by Alamogordo resident went as follows…
”Yesterday while on the road traveling, I got a phone call. When I answered, a young woman was crying and saying "Dad, I'm sorry dad I had an accident... "
Then a man got on the phone and said he was a police officer explaining, that my daughter was OK and she was not hurt. He then proceeded to ask questions irrelevant to the accident.
Soon after, he became agitated and told me he was not really a police office but a drug smuggler, that my daughter had witnessed him in a transaction involving drugs and weapons, and so he snatched her and was holding her and unless, I did exactly as he told me serious harm would come to her.
I was then instructed to leave my phone on speaker and to drive to a Walmart and to wirer money to Mexico. And he would release my daughter in the parking lot.
Long story short, after three and a half hours of terror and ransom paid, NO daughter. I had been instructed not to call anyone nor answer any calls during the ordeal or my baby would me murdered. Once he confirmed the money was received, he hung up.
I was in shock, I finally got up the courage to call my home and my son told me that she was with him. I was drained.
I called a friend for support and proceeded to the local State Police office. There was no answer at the door. We called a number only to get a message to leave a message and someone would call back.”
Turns out the reported scam that happened to an Alamogordo man is more common than one would suspect.
Avoiding falling victim, however, is no longer just a matter of not falling for a lie.
These scams are more believable thanks to artificial intelligence that can easily clone voices of those you might know.
A simple conversation with family and the creation of a code word to verify the legitimacy of a phone call can thwart a loss.
“The best defense here is basically very simplistic,” said Michael Skiba, known as Dr. Fraud a consultant specializing in scams and fraud. “Be proactive and talk to your family members about a code word, just a simple code word that can be used and shared.”
Other clues a kidnapping call may be a scam include:
- The call comes from an outside area code or blocked number.
- Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone number.
- Scammers will try to prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim by threatening to hurt them.
The following is taken directly from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Press Release and explains how to avoid becoming a victim:
To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:
* Incoming calls come from an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856).
* Calls do not come from the alleged kidnapped victim's phone.
* Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone.
* Callers prevent you from calling or locating the "kidnapped" victim.
* Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service.
If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:
* Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, "How do I know my loved one is okay?"
* If the callers don't let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle the victim drives, if applicable.
* Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if he/she speaks.
* Attempt to call, text, or contact the alleged victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
* While staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
* To buy time, repeat the caller's request and tell them you are writing. down the demand, or tell the caller you need additional time to meet their demands.
* Don't directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
* Request the alleged kidnapper allow the victim to call you back from his/her cell phone.
* At the earliest opportunity, notify your local police department by calling 911.
To help prevent this scam, check privacy settings on social media accounts and revisit the information you publicize on those accounts. The more information available to the public, the more information scammers can use to convince you into believing a scam is real.
If you have questions about this information or need to report a potential scam happening to you contact the Otero County Sheriff’s Department or call local dispatch at 911.
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Source: AlamogordoTownNews.com tip line, FBI and Dr Fraud
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