BETHESDA, Md. - A phone scam is resurfacing in the D.C. area that has parents answering the call hearing what sounds like their child screaming after being kidnapped. But the tactic is just an extortion attempt to get parents to pay up.
Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland said they have heard from parents reporting they are receiving these terrifying phone calls. The school district said there have been a handful of complaints from parents in different schools around the county.
The school district has sent out emails warning parents about this scam and to immediately notify their school and police if they receive one of these calls.
In this virtual kidnapping scam, the criminals search online to find out information on a family and then call claiming they have abducted their son or daughter.
“The parents have said they received this call [hearing] an ominous voice, often from an international phone number,” said Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner. “The caller usually says they have their child and they will hurt the child if a certain amount of money isn't provided to the caller over a wire service. Some parents have said they have heard kids screaming in the background, which you can only imagine exacerbates the fear.”
Turner said they do not believe the school community itself is the target of these calls, but they are just going after families in Montgomery County.
The FBI said it is seeing an increase in these virtual kidnapping calls. Police in Montgomery County are recommending three things when encountering these calls:
-Do not wire money
-Contact your child's school
A woman from Leesburg, Virginia described to FOX 5 her experience from this type of call and she ended up wiring a total of $10,000 to the scam artists because the call seemed very convincing to her.
Even though there have been at least nine or ten cases reported to Montgomery County Public Schools, police in the county said they have yet to receive any reports from these parents. They stress it is important, even if they report these calls to the school system, that they should contact police as well and provide them with information, such as the phone number, so they can attempt track down these people.