BOONE COUNTY — The Boone County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning this week about a “virtual kidnapping scam” that’s tricking Hoosiers into giving up their money and personal information.
The scammers claim to be kidnappers holding a family member hostage, and they demand you send them money orders or gift cards.
“These scammers are also hacking into phone contacts and when they call you, it looks like the call is coming from your family member or friend,” read a Facebook post from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.
The Better Business Bureau said the scammers may know a lot about you or your family.
"They may have a lot of personal information about you, things they got off the internet, they may have gone to Ancestry.com and gotten some information,” Tim Maniscalo, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana, said. “There's lots of ways they can get personal information about you and make it sound real."
Senior citizens are often the first targeted by this scam.
The Better Business Bureau says people fall for these scams because the criminals spoof numbers.
"You can make it appear that it's any number that you want,” Tim Maniscalo, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana, said. “So, don't believe the number that's shown on your screen is the real number. The app is easy to get, easy to download.”
You can report phone scams to the BBB’s Scam Tracker here: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office offered a few tips:
• Remain calm and try to contact the family member that is claiming to be kidnapped. You can use another phone of someone near you to call them or text them while on the phone with the scammer.
• Do not provide the caller with any personal information of your family member, even their names. The scammers may not know the family relationship.
• Take your time trying to contact your family member and do don’t give into any demands.
If you have been a victim of this scam and sent money, you can contact the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and file a fraud report at 765-482-1412 ext. 8