Most of the scams I’ve written about on this site involve the internet. Now phone call scams are making a comeback. The ideas behind these scams are almost the same whether they happen on the internet or over the phone.
There are a few variations but the basic idea is the same:
- The criminal will often steal a phone to make a call
- A criminal calls someone’s phone (often a child) and tells them maintenance needs to be done on their phone and to turn it off for an hour
- They then call that person’s parents or relatives
- They tell the parents that they’ve kidnapped their child
- They demand a ransom to be dropped off at some location cash or jewelery
It’s not a small problem either. In Mexico, in a 3 month period 30,000 complaints were made to the police regarding this scam. In a 6 month period (also in Mexico) it’s estimated that US$20m was collected from worried parents. So it’s not a small problem, it’s rampant.
There’s another variation: instead of making fake ransom requests people are told they’ve won a car or some other prize, and that they need to deposit some money to be able to collect their prize. We’ve seen this before in email scams, I guess people are starting to not believe emails and criminals have moved back to phones.
So keep this scam in mind and plan accordingly on how you contact your family members.
More information here.