Do You Know What Virtual Kidnapping Is?

Your phone rang for the first time from an unknown number so you just hung it up. And a few minutes later the phone rang again, this time still an unknown call, but you decided to pick it up. “Daddy… Daddy I am scared! Help me!” you hear a young girl screaming on the phone. Soon after a man took over the phone and told you that they had kidnapped your child and you had to follow whatever they asked or you would never see your child again. They asked you to prepare ransom and warned you not to hang up the phone or harm will come to you.

This scam is so-called “virtual kidnapping.” It’s terrifying when you’re not prepared for any of the upcomings and the second you pick up the phone you’re told that your loved one has been kidnapped. Your natural instinct will be to believe the caller and follow their instructions. People who are unaware of this scam will easily be fooled since the virtual kidnappers are adept at creating a convincing atmosphere. People who have experienced a virtual kidnapping scam claimed that it was the most horrible situation they’d ever been in.

In order not to be played with, there are some virtual kidnapping facts you have to learn.

How virtual kidnapping works

Step1 Hack

Because of the growth of social media and GPS devices, it’s much easier for virtual kidnappers to hack into a victim’s email address or online accounts (facebook, twitter, etc) to collect any personal information they need.

Step2 Follow

Virtual kidnappers follow their prey either physically, in person, or through social media. Things they have posted, places they have been to are all being monitored 24–7.

Step3 Wait

Until the kidnappers have collected all the information needed, they simply just wait for the best timing to come.

Step4 Take Action

When the victim turns their phone off or is in a location where they are less reachable, virtual kidnappers start to take action. With all the information they have gotten, they make themselves sound as convincing as possible and exploit the biggest fear of every parent.

Virtual kidnapping warning signs

Although virtual kidnapping sounds terrifying, there are some indicators that will help you spot this scam.

  • You receive several unknown calls
  • These calls are made from an outside area code
  • They’re controlling you the whole time by keeping you on the phone (In an actual kidnapping, kidnappers usually try to stay on the line as short as possible so they won’t be traced. On the contrary, virtual kidnappers hold you on the line so you won’t be able to contact your child.)
  • They prevent you from talking to the your child
  • Ransom demand is not as large as an actual kidnapping
  • Ransom transfer is only accepted through a wire transfer

How to avoid falling victim to a virtual kidnapping scam

If you discover any of the warning signs on the call, try to remain calm and slow the situation down by repeating the ransom and telling them you need to take notes down. Ask to speak to your child or ask them to confirm things that only your child would know. If you don’t want to risk ending the call, drive to the nearest police station for help.

To know more facts about virtual kidnapping and what you should do to prevent it from happening, check out this Kidnapping Prevention Guide by KidGuard.