June 15, 2024

The Sheriff’s Office of Grant County is cautioning locals about an advanced phone trickery that’s becoming increasingly prevalent.

Virtual kidnapping hoax – deceiving you with a perception of authenticity

This deceit is recognized as ‘virtual kidnapping.’ It involves an illicit endeavor to swindle victims by wrongfully persuading them that a family member has been abducted and a payment is needed to assure their safe liberation.

The representative of the Sheriff’s Office, Kyle Foreman, states that some of these deception cases are intricate enough to harness artificial intelligence tools.

Scammers may employ artificial intelligence to mimic a familiar voice. This modus operandi could potentially trick you into believing you are communicating with the loved one in question. As such, people must remain vigilant when answering such calls.

The police urge anyone receiving a virtual kidnapping call to restrict their interaction on the call with the fraudster in order to prevent their voice from being potentially cloned in a similar way.

Chances of actual kidnappings remain slim

Foreman brings up another point to consider, that while kidnappings do occasionally occur, their incidence rate is extremely low, and the chances that it might affect someone you know are even lower.

“Actual kidnappings across the country are quite rare. Most of these incidents are simply attempts to extract money from unsuspecting people. They are complex to execute, and holding someone hostage for ransom is no simple task. Moreover, victims today find it quite challenging to transfer a hefty amount of money to their captors.”

Foreman advises, should anyone receive a call demanding ransom in return for a loved one’s freedom, never reveal personal identification details such as names or locations – either yours or of anyone you know.

Most reports of virtual kidnapping calls received by the Sheriff’s Office seem to be originating from the Spokane area, according to Foreman; however, he states the numbers used are likely to be masked, making it tough to pinpoint their exact origin.

If anyone receives a call related to a virtual kidnapping scam or suspects a genuine kidnapping, they are urged to promptly report it to the FBI by dialling 9-1-1.

Though it’s crucial to note, this isn’t the only fraudulent scheme in progress. Make sure to keep reading to educate yourself about more recent fraud attempts across Washington.

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