Families with children at Montgomery County Public Schools are being warned about a virtual kidnapping scam that has already impacted multiple people in the last week.
Several schools in Montgomery County have sent home letters warning about virtual kidnappings, a type of phone scam that tries to convince victims that a loved one – in this case a child – has been kidnapped and will be harmed unless a ransom is paid.
The scammer calls from an unfamiliar number, possibly from an international area code, according to a letter sent to parents. The caller then claims that they have the victim’s child and some victims have reported hearing screaming in the background.
Scammers threatened a couple of families in the areas of Clarksburg and Damascus high schools, MCPS said. Police are currently investigating.
Virtual kidnappings are nothing new. Scammers have been trying variations of the scheme for years, according to the FBI. The Washington area had several cases last year, including one in Leesburg, Virginia, where a mother – believing her daughter was being held by deadly kidnappers – wired a scammer almost $10,000. The mother realized the kidnapping was fake when her daughter texted her while she was still on the phone with the scammer.
Police said that if you are contacted by a scammer, you should not wire any money. Instead, contact your child’s school and then call 911.