FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Police in Fishers are warning residents of a kidnapping scam that has been happening both locally and nationally.
According to the Fishers Police Department, suspects are spoofing cellphone numbers and contacting victims while acting out a “kidnapping” to collect ransom money. It happened this past week to one Fishers couple. Someone on the phone claimed to have their child and threatened to hurt the child if the couple didn’t pay up.
“These suspects are spoofing telephone numbers and so the number may look like a number that is familiar to you, maybe even a family member,” said Sgt. Tom Weger with the Fishers Police Department on Thursday.
The suspects are also demanding payment from victims via Zelle Payment or PayPal.
“There’s a lot of dramatic things that are happening in the background of the telephone call, crying and screaming, and so it makes the person feel like this is a real-life situation,” Weger said.
A news release from Fishers police said, “The suspect(s) will state the family member is being held at gunpoint and if law enforcement is contacted, they will kill the loved one.”
Luckily, the Fishers couple that received this call when their child wasn’t home figured out that they were getting scammed and didn’t send over any money.
“They want you to not be able to take a break and kind of get your wits about you and take action before your realize what is really happening,” Weger said.
Laura Villanyi, a Fishers resident who has not been caught by this scam, says while this situation seems terrifying she has learned her lesson on believing everything that comes through your phone.
“You know, anymore I would be hesitant because I have been scammed on all different kinds of platforms, between Instagram, Vrbo … you just keep going on and on,” Villanyi said. “We have been thrown into a lot of different situations where you have to guess now and really think.”
Police believe the scammers are using Facebook and other social media platforms to get their victims’ information and learn more about them. That’s why they are encouraging people to up security settings on all of their social media profiles.
The Fishers police release said, “Make certain the security settings, on your social media accounts, are set to the highest security level locking accounts from be viewable by non-approved friends.”
Police also say to be skeptical answering a call from a number that is not saved in your phone or that you do not recognize.
If you believe you have fallen victim to this scam, call police and ask for a welfare check of the loved one. Police say you should not pay any ransom and report the suspicious activity immediately.