Mountain View police last week reported two recent, separate incidents involving telephone scammers and apparent extortion.
Police said the callers demanded money in exchange for the safety of a loved one who either had been purportedly kidnapped or involved in a traffic collision.
In the first case, a mother feared for her daughter’s safety after a man called her and told her that her daughter had been kidnapped. The man said if the mother wanted to see her daughter again, she should wire him more than $1,000 to a provided account.
A second call came from a husband and wife who said they had been contacted and told their son had been involved in a car crash. The caller said the family owed money to cover the medical costs for a victim involved in the crash. The family was instructed to transfer $900 to an account.
“Fortunately, in both cases, the children of those who were called were OK. Unfortunately, in both cases, the victims transferred money to the unidentified suspect,” a police spokesperson said. “In both of these cases, the suspect typically gives their victim instructions that require the victim to stay on the phone until all the payment they are seeking is received.”
Police urged residents to “always be skeptical when receiving unsolicited calls from strangers demanding money.” Officers offered the following tips.
• Request to speak to the victim directly. State that you cannot do anything else until you can confirm your loved one is OK.
• If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or his or her vehicle in detail.
• Try to call, text or contact your loved one via social media while staying on the line with the suspect.
•To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell him or her that you are writing down the demand and that it could take time to get their request in order.
Police urge anyone suspecting a scam to call the police department immediately at 903-6395. Victims also can file a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1.