The Prince George’s County Police Department would like to alert county residents about a kidnapping scam. Scammers call their victims and indicate a loved one has been kidnapped and demand a ransom for their safe return.
In the past month, we’ve received six reports of this scam. In some cases, the victim has paid the ransom. The ransoms are usually more than $1,000. Ransom payments are to be wired internationally. In five of the reported cases, the scammer has spoken Spanish and has targeted Spanish-speaking victims. We do believe there are likely additional victims who have not yet reported the incident to police.
Preliminarily, it appears the scammers are learning personal information about a victim on social media – for example, whether they have children. During the scam call, the suspect will often give specific information about a loved one to include a nickname or clothing the alleged victim owns.
Please follow these tips in case you receive such a call:
* Try to contact the allegedly kidnapped family member and verify their whereabouts. Be aware, the scammer may use another person to try to imitate the family member’s voice over the phone, insinuating they are in kidnapped.
* Immediately also contact and report this incident to the Prince George’s County Police Department – even if you have verified your family member is safe. Please do not delete the number the scammer called from. Request a police report be written with the identified number in the report.
*Never pay a ransom unless under the direction of law enforcement.
If you have been a victim of this scam, please call 911. Please always reach out to us if you feel a loved one is in danger, whether or not it’s connected to a potential scam.