Deputies were trying to reach a woman Friday afternoon after she received a virtual kidnapping call about her daughter, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Around noon, a man called 911 stating that his wife had received a call from an unknown person who claimed to have kidnapped the couple’s daughter, sheriff’s Lt. Dave Perkins said.
The kidnappers told the wife they have her daughter and demanded a $7,000 ransom but the husband was able to contact the daughter and confirmed she was OK, the lieutenant said.
The husband was asking for deputies to do a welfare check on the wife at a Wells Fargo branch in Ramona because she refused to get off the phone with the supposed kidnappers, Perkins said.
Deputies were able to contact the wife later in the afternoon, Lt. Karen Stubkjaer said.
"No money was exchanged and no one is or was in danger," she said.
There has been a rise in virtual kidnapping cases in San Diego and elsewhere in Southern California. The Chula Vista Police Department told NBC 7 in May, it responded to three cases of virtual kidnappers a month.
Virtual kidnapping is an extortion scam that tricks victims into paying ransom for loved ones who they believe is being threatened with violence or death, the FBI said.
The callers often go to great lengths to keep the victim on the phone to prevent the victim from calling the supposed “kidnapped” victim, according to the FBI.
The FBI said the best course of action if you receive a call demanding a ransom is to hang up the phone and not engage the caller. Also, do not call out your loved one’s name and, if you do engage the caller, ask questions that only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as name of a pet, or ask the supposed kidnapper to speak to your family member immediately by asking, “How do I know my loved one is OK?”
The most important thing to remember, according to the FBI, is to never agree to pay the ransom by wire or in person.
If you suspect a real kidnapping is taking place, contact the FBI immediately or call your local police department.