FISHERS — Phone scams have increased dramatically since this same time last year according to the Federal Trade Commission. Through 2.2 million reports victims say they’ve lost more than $3.2 billion.
These scams come in many different forms but threats of violence are typically not common which is why the Fishers Police Department paid special attention after one family reported a spam call which threatened kidnap and violence.
“This could be a very very scary situation,” Fishers Police Department PIO Sergeant Tom Weger. “They are indicating that they have a loved one of the victim that’s been kidnapped.”
Your phone rings, you don’t recognize the number.
“The suspects are using spoofed phone numbers to contact a resident,” Sgt. Weger said. “Scammers are using local numbers and numbers from out of the area… so you really don’t know where the calls are coming from.”
Something inside you tells you to answer the call anyway. On the other end, you hear screaming, crying, the name of your loved one.
“They are indicating that they have a loved one of the victim that’s been kidnapped,” Sgt. Weger said. “They threaten to kill the person if the victim contacts law enforcement.”
Which is exactly what you should do – that and increase your security settings on you social media accounts.
“They’re using social media platforms to identify family members and so that’s how they are gaining the identities of these people so that the victims believe that their loved one is actually in harms way,” Sgt. Weger said. “Our particular victim, their Facebook platform was open – to the general public and so anybody could get on there and see what they had posted and that’s very dangerous.”
If this happens to you, no matter what you hear on the other end, don’t pay, hang up the phone and call 911.
“We want people to kinda slow down and think things through as they’re talking to this person and as soon as they realize that this is a kidnapping scam we need for them to hang up the phone immediately and call 911,” Sgt. Weger said. “This is a very scary situation and can be a very scary situation for a resident and so we want to make sure that we get this information out there so that we can avoid people being in this situation.”
Though this has only happened to one Fishers resident. Sgt. Weger fears more may fall prey to a similar scam.
“While we’ve had only one resident report this to us – we know throughout the investigation that this is a scam that’s happening all over the country and so we feel like more people in the area could fall victim to it,” Sgt. Weger said. “These scammers are very good at what they do. They know how to act on your emotions. This is a very serious situation and the public needs to take certain steps to protect themselves, which they can easily do.”