Darien police warn of kidnapping phone scam

Police are reporting that phone scam attempts targeting residents of Darien and surrounding towns continue to occur at an alarming rate. This morning a town resident became the target of a scam that police have seen and heard about regularly.
This morning an unsuspecting resident received a call from an unknown number and the caller informed her that her husband had been in a car accident. The caller informed the victim that the accident also involved the caller’s “brother” who is a wanted felon so the police could not be called.  The caller then demanded that the victim stay on the phone and send money immediately or her husband would be killed. The victim was not aware that this type of scam occurs in our area every day.

The victim began to follow the caller’s instructions and was en-route to a bank when she was able to flag down two Darien Police Officers.  With the caller still on the phone, the officers immediately recognized that the details provided sounded identical to scams that have targeted our area in the past.  In this morning’s case, the caller eventually instructed the victim to go to a nearby Walmart and send an electronic funds transfer.  Over the next several minutes, officers were able to determine the husband’s location and with the assistance of another law enforcement agency, physically met with him and confirmed that he was safe.  The victim then terminated the phone call and did not sustain any financial loss.

Although law enforcement agencies around the country feel that these incidents have been originating outside of the U.S. for the past few years, the Darien Police Department investigates each occurrence.  This agency has issued numerous advisories in the past, however the warnings in some instances go unnoticed.  

There are many variations to this type of phone scam and unfortunately it is often successful because it preys on a person’s fear of a loved one being harmed.  Although the victims are relieved when they learn that their loved one is safe, their money will likely never be recovered.

Here Is What To Do To Avoid Becoming A Victim:

  • Memorize or keep a written list of family cell phone numbers that can be easily accessed if your cell phone is in use.
  • Do not provide family information over the telephone. Simply responding to a simple question like “Do you know where your husband is?” can trigger a kidnapping scam.
  • Do attempt to identify the location of the caller as well as the family member that has purportedly been kidnapped. The scammer may be unfamiliar with the local area.
  • Do ask specific questions to assess the validity of the call. Asking the hostage to describe your family member may prompt the caller to stop the scam and hang up.
  • Do try to buy time by repeating the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
  • Do not wire any funds for a “ransom.” These transactions are very difficult to trace and upon completion are considered a loss.
  • Do notify the local police as soon as possible, even when instructed not to.
  • Do save the incoming telephone number along with any text messages, voicemails, or photographs sent by the caller.
  • Do not panic; this scam feeds on fear. By remaining calm and rational, you may be able to figure out that the call is a hoax.

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