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Kentucky sheriff's office warns parents of 'virtual kidnapping ransom scam'

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Posted at 3:11 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 15:11:18-05

BOONE COUNTY, Ky. – Authorities in Kentucky are warning parents of a kidnapping scam.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office says the ruse is commonly known as a “virtual kidnapping ransom scam,” and victims describe it as terrifying and very realistic.

Two separate families reported that they received random phone calls from a foreign phone number on Monday and Tuesday. When the parents answered, they heard who they thought were their children saying, “They have me” and “I’m in a van,” according to the sheriff’s office.

During the first incident, officers say the purported kidnapper told a father, “If you want to see your daughter again, follow my instructions.” He quickly disconnected the call and contacted his wife, who then confirmed that their daughter was safe and still at school.

The second call reportedly included similar threats, along with additional demands. The sheriff’s office says the alleged kidnapper demanded, “All the money you have” and followed up with a threat, saying a mother's child would be killed if she hung up on him.

While keeping the culprit on the phone, the mother was able to contact deputies who confirmed that her child was safe and still at school.

If you or a loved one receives one of these calls, the sheriff’s office says it’s important to remain calm and immediately begin taking the steps to verify the whereabouts of your child.

“It is also recommended for everyone to check their social media privacy settings and to verify what information can be viewed by the public on these accounts,” wrote the sheriff’s office. “This information could be used against you to make the scam seem more realistic.”