The LAPD is alerting the public about a recent rash of phone scams that seek ransom for taking family members hostage.
According to the police, the victims are contacted by a suspect who states they are holding a family member hostage. The caller then demands money to be wired, threatening they will kill or hurt the hostage. The scammers then advise the victim withdraw money from an ATM and send send it via wire services. Other variations of the extortion include the caller contacting miscellaneous businesses for "protection money."
Below are crime prevention tips from the LAPD to avoid falling victim to this scam:
- Incoming calls made from an outside area code or country;
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line;
- Calls do not come from the victim's phone;
- Callers try to prevent you from contacting the "Kidnapped" victim;
- Multiple successive phone calls;
- Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer;
- Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason;
- Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited; and
- Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to someone you do not know.
Anyone with information or questions regarding this crime should call Crime Stoppers at 800.222-8477. Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 or go to "webtips" on LAPDOnline.org.