Fake Kidnapping Calls To DISD Parents Prompt Warning

The FBI warned about these scams years ago, but they still work.
The FBI warned about these scams years ago, but they still work. FBI
Dallas Independent School District spokesperson Robyn Harris says the administration transmitted an all-district warning in English and Spanish to parents to alert them to scammers calling and demanding ransom for kidnapped children.

Harris says that a few families from different parts of the school district received calls from scammers telling them that they had kidnapped their children. “They were trying to get them to release sensitive information and use it as a way to fork up money for a ransom,” she says.

The approach is calculated to overwhelm their victims’ reason.

tweet this
The FBI calls it a “virtual kidnapping,” It typically involves callers who call victims and demand a wire transfer of money for the return of a supposedly abducted family member or friend. Sometimes they represent themselves as a members of a drug cartel or a corrupt law enforcement officials to instill fear, panic and urgency. The approach is calculated to overwhelm their victims’ reason so they’ll make a hasty decision.

The FBI claims virtual extortion schemes were on the rise in 2014, but back then the scammers targeted dentists, general practitioners and other health specialists. Now, three years later, they’re targeting parents of DISD students.

Harris says DISD initially received information about a virtual kidnapping scam targeting a family in a Southlake school district a few weeks ago. Several other families contacted their campuses on Friday to report similar fake kidnapping calls. These incidents prompted DISD to alert families that scammers may be targeting them.

The FBI reports to avoid becoming a victim of a fake kidnapping scam pay attention to incoming calls from an outside area code, and keep in mind that fake kidnappers won’t call from the kidnapped victim’s phone, and they’ll do their best to keep you on the phone to prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim.

Harris from DISD asks parents to call police if they receive a phone call from a fake kidnapper demanding a ransom and to contact their child’s school.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.