Beware of Virtual Kidnapping Scam

The North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety would like to warn you, our citizens, about a frightening virtual kidnapping scam that has occurred in our area.

This criminal activity starts when scammers make a phone call advising that a loved one has been kidnapped and unless you send them money, they will harm your loved one. The scammer will provide a short time limit to have the money sent to them, utilizing time and fear to victimize you.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations provides these tips to avoid becoming a victim. If you receive a phone call from someone demanding a ransom for an alleged kidnap victim, the following should be considered:

  • In most cases, the best course of action is to hang up the phone.
  • If you do engage the caller, do not call out your loved one’s name.
  • Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to your family member directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
  • Ask questions only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as the name of a pet.
  • Avoid sharing information about yourself or your family.
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the alleged victim, if they speak.
  • Attempt to contact the alleged victim via phone, text, or social media, and request that they call back from their cell phone.
  • To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
  • Don’t agree to pay the ransom, by wire or in person. Delivering money in person can be dangerous. Any request for payment by gift card, money order, or Green Dot card is most likely a scam.