False Kidnapping Scams Rise in Rogue Valley

There has been a recent influx in the area of scammers making phone calls and threatening they have kidnapped loved ones. “We’ve gotten about a dozen reports of these fake kidnapping calls in the last couple of weeks,” said Lt. Mike Budreau of the Medford Police. “It’s the latest twist on an old problem.”block-your-phone-number-from-appearing-any-caller-id.1280x600

Joan Middendorf received a call from an unknown caller ID on January 26th. “It sounded like a child crying, then a woman’s voice got on the line,” Middendorf said in an interview with KTVL news. “I wasn’t sure what she wanted, all I could think about was that the child was in distress, and I said, ‘who are you? Who are you calling for?’ The woman threatened me and asked if I was going to help my sister or not. ‘I don’t have any sisters,’ I told her. ‘They are dead.” Then, according to Middendorf, the caller hung up.

It seems, in this case, the scammers had blundered on their research of Middendorf. “Typically,” Lt. Mike Budreau explained, “These scammers know your name, the names of your relatives, and other personal information. It can be very convincing and frightening, these scammers are good. A few individuals have been tricked into giving them money as a form of ransom.”

In the past, there have also been scams where the caller claims to be a police officer with an arrest warrant, or claims to be the IRS saying you owe in back taxes. “It’s the same thing,” Lt Budreau says. “These scammers have just found a new twist on the same problem: fake kidnapping.”

So what should you do if you receive such a phone call? As soon as the scammer mentions the name of a loved one, it will be tempting to believe them. But according to Lt. Mike Budreau, we should “Hang up the phone. No matter what. Hang up. These types of things just don’t really happen outside of movies.”