North Texas

“Virtual Kidnapping”: A Scam Involving Threats and Fear

Cedar Hill police are warning DFW residents about a scam that occurs entirely over the phone

What to Know

  • Police are warning DFW residents about a scam.
  • It's called "virtual kidnapping."
  • Scammers will do whatever it takes to try and get you to wire them money over the phone.

Cedar Hill police are warning North Texas residents about a kidnapping scam — but it's one that doesn’t actually involve any stolen children.

"Virtual kidnapping" is the term police use in reference to a con where scammers use fear and threats over the phone to force people into wiring them money.

Just Tuesday afternoon Cedar Hill police said a case of virtual kidnapping was nearly a success for one scammer.

Police described a resident who received a phone call from a man who claimed he had his daughter held at gunpoint. The man threatened to kill his daughter if he didn't leave the house to go to a bank in the next 30 seconds and wire him money.

The resident left his house immediately, police said. Luckily, the resident's wife was home and she went to check their daughter's bedroom where she found her safe and sound.

The scammers hung up after being caught in the act by the resident, police said.

This is a type of scam "in which no real physical harm or danger exists but scammers use time and intimidation tactics to force their victims into wiring them money," Cedar Hill police said in a statement.

Police added that the scam has been around for quite a while, and they warn anyone who thinks they may have been scammed to contact police as soon as possible. 

Here is some more information from the Cedar Hill Police Department about virtual kidnapping:

• The scammers may know your name and the name of a loved one who's being threatened.

• They may even know the area where you are and they'll prove it by telling you what exit to take or even the exact bank to go to.

• They will do everything they can to keep you on the phone.

• In many cases, they get this information from social media profiles which are open for public viewing.

• Be sure to check your privacy settings on all of your social media accounts.

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