Northbridge Police Warn Residents of Kidnapped Relative Scam

northbridgepolicefrom the Northbridge Police Department facebook page

****** SCAM ****** Kidnapped relative *******

We have received 6 calls since yesterday from residents!!!
PLEASE spread the word to your friends/family who are not on facebook — ESPECIALLY your elderly relatives.

The person on the other line will tell the victim that one of his or her loved ones (brother/sister or a child, usually) was involved in an accident and is being held hostage and that unless the call recipient sends the caller money, the person being held hostage will be hurt or even killed. In reality, the “kidnapped” relative is usually safe and sound. We have received 6 calls since yesterday– all demanding $800 and to meet at Walmart. (they will then tell you they couldn’t make it to Walmart — western union the money).
Legit looking phone numbers will also show up on your caller ID. Scammers are able to program what phone number they want you to see on your caller ID or they are “burner cells” and untraceable.

Various forms of the scam may exist, but it usually involves some type of fake-kidnapping and blackmailing the victim for money. Scammers may troll social media sites for one’s personal information, such as the name(s) of a potential victim’s children, his or her spouse, or one of the soon-to-be-victim’s parents. Scammers may even be able to extract your contact information from social media sites, which is likely from where these past scammers obtained the victims’ phone numbers.

Social Media Safety Tips

Make sure you protect yourself from being targeted from a scam like this. Here are two ways that you can start:

•Double-check your privacy settings. You may not know this, but the default privacy settings on many of your social media accounts may be set to “public,” exposing some possibly personal information on your profile to anyone. This may not only lead to identify theft, but is bait for these “kidnapped relative” scammers.

•Don’t post personal contact information, period. Even if your social media privacy settings are restrictively set, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and abstain from posting personal contact information online. You never know when your preferred site might get hacked, and it’s best to directly exchange this sensitive information with friends and family outside of social media.

Comments are encouraged! If this is your first time commenting (welcome!). Your email is required but not displayed. I ask town officials to use their real names.

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