Police in East Lyme are issuing a warning after several people reported getting a frightening scam call from someone claiming to have kidnapped their child.
Police said four people have reported getting calls in the past week from someone who said the victim’s child had been kidnapped as the sounds of a child calling for help rang out in the background.
“The common denominator is all of the parents have told the police, ‘well it sounded like my child.’ Which prays on the real, raw emotions that a parent’s going to have,” said East Lyme Chief Michael Finkelstein.
The caller then requested that $5,000 be wired to an account in return for releasing the child, according to police.
Police said the calls are scams intended to extort money. Authorities are warning residents never to wire money to unknown accounts or to buy gift cards as payments.
If you receive one of these calls, call police as soon as possible.
Town of Groton, Waterford and New London Police said they’ve gotten similar reports, but are not aware of anyone handing over money,
One Groton mom got the call Saturday. The voice on the phone was hysterically crying for help and sounded like her teenage son, who had just taken a bike ride to a nearby park.
“If I want to see my son alive, that I am not to say anything. They have roughed him up, they have shoved him in a car, they have tied him to a chair. They have not gagged him but he is pretty badly beaten up,” said the mom about what she was told over the phone. She wanted to remain anonymous out of concern for safety.
She was told by the person on the phone that her child allegedly interrupted a drug deal and she needed to hand over $5,000 to get him back.
Her husband was able to track her son’s cell phone while she ran to a neighbor’s home and wrote on a piece of mail to call 911. Her son came home safely from the park.
A father went to Waterford Police after he got a scam call. He was also told a story that involved drugs. He wanted to remain anonymous because his child is unaware this happened.
“As I talked to whoever this person was on the phone, it started to become clearer, as I was driving toward the police station, that this is BS because I was asking them questions and they were giving me vague sort-of nonsense,” the father said. He wanted to remain anonymous because his child is unaware this happened.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also issued alerts about kidnapping scam calls and said the callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone and prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim.
The agency urges anyone who receives a call from someone demanding payment to:
- Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is OK?”
- If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
- Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak.
- Attempt to call, text or contact the victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
- While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
- To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
- Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
- Request the kidnapped victim call back from his/her cell phone.