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Reston Mom Thwarts Abduction Phone Scammers

by Karen Goff — May 24, 2016 at 10:00 am 15 Comments

Fairfax County Police A Reston woman said she was the target of local abduction scammers — a trend Fairfax County Police warned residents about last week. Quick thinking and following advice from police helped thwart the would-be scammers, she said.

In the last two months, scammers have been calling people and telling them they have their children and demanding money, police said.

The woman, who works in human resources for a Herndon company, said she received a call at 3:30 p.m. Friday from an unknown caller who had a female on the line who sounded “exactly like my [23-year-old] daughter. She was crying and speaking incoherently.”

Here’s what happened next:

“I wrote a note to my co-worker to call 911,” said the woman, who asked her name not be used. “The caller said he kidnapped my daughter and was demanding that I pay a ransom. His instructions were not to hang up, not put the phone on speaker or mute and to go directly to my car and then to a bank. He made demands that I call him ‘son’ that I not try to call the police or contact anyone else.

“My co-workers jumped into action,” she said. “They called and met the police, kept me calm and called family members trying to confirm that my daughter was in fact okay. This lasted about 25 minutes until my daughter answered the call from the Fairfax County police.”

The woman said she always has a list of printed Emergency Contact information ready for her staff, so she was able to pull her family’s contact information out and provide it to a co-worker.

She also said she stalled the caller by lying about not knowing where the bank is located, about where I worked, how long it took to get to my car and asked a lot of directions about the money to get from the bank.

“I even lied at one point and said I had fainted when he caught me putting him on mute when I was speaking with the police,” she said.

The woman said Fairfax County Police were at her office in about five minutes and gave her instructions on how to stall and keep him talking until they could confirm that my daughter was actually safe at work.

Fairfax County Police say if this happens to you, remain calm and know it is likely a scam. They say if you get a call, immediately call your child’s school (or the location where they are supposed to be) to verify whether they are, in fact, there.

Said police: “Financial scams are prevalent in today’s technological and connected society. Scammers target unsuspecting victims through phone calls, e-mails and face-to-face. They prey upon your emotions from excitement and joy to fear and intimidation and the types and styles of ruses are countless. The common thread is that all scammers hope to catch you off-guard and keep you off-balance so you act without thinking and don’t realize what’s happened until your money is already gone.”

  • LaureenMT

    This was handled so well! I wonder whether the police have any way to identify the criminals and charge them.

    • Mike M

      If they didn’t advance their investigation then their time was wasted other than making a suburban mom feel better, and that is not their true purpose. They are too expensive.

      • MaggieSays

        I don’t think it is a waste of their time to confirm it is not an abduction, even if they can’t track down the scammers.

        • Mike M

          I don’t think you need the police to “confirm it’s not an abduction.” Again, people have no clue how limited are police resources. Lots of people have odd notions. Unless the investigation into prosecuting the perps is advanced, it was overkill.

          • MaggieSays

            Interesting. I think I would still call the police if someone claims to have my child. What would be your suggested course of action?

          • Mike M

            She had it covered with her colleagues. Family members are useful too. What can the police do that anyone couldn’t do?

          • MaggieSays

            You are giving a course of action knowing they didn’t have the child. What would you suggest a parent do if someone were to call and say this and you don’t know? Maybe they do have your child. Perhaps you are dealing with actual kidnappers. Either way, this isn’t a prank, it’s extortion and against the law. Calling the police is the correct thing to do, regardless of your opinion.

          • Mike M

            Knowing that this scam was about the town, knowing that I am a very odd target for a kidnapping, knowing what my kids sound like, knowing lots of things. Again, if it advanced the investigation, great. Otherwise, waste of time. I think you ignored half of what I said. You don’t need the police to confirm your child’s whereabouts.

          • V-twin

            Arguing for the sake of arguing. FFX is one of the wealthiest regions on Earth. Call the Police so that they can gather as much info on the scam as possible, then hopefully catch them. What would be a better use of their time, tending to a malfunctioning traffic signal?

          • Mike M

            Wealthiest does not mean unlimited resources. That logic is overused by your end of the political spectrum to justify any marginal commitment of additional resources. Your could also compare this visit to any petty activity and declare it more valuable. Also, not strong logic. In fact, a failed traffic signal can be quite costly to the County and citizens. As I said, if it advanced the investigation, great. But I don’t get the impression it did. If so, it was a waste of time. Frankly, the police usually don’t like to be bothered and show up even with a car break-in report. I am surprised they showed up here.

          • V-twin

            I never implied unlimited, merely reasonably expected. If your expectations are lower, then I hope you’re at least happy with the low-ish taxes.

            That said, the police exist to enforce the law. Kidnapping is against the law. Extortion is against the law. Larceny is against the law. Ignoring any of these things is accepting 3rd world elements.

            What would be more expensive, showing up and doing their jobs or a huge lawsuit later on?

          • Mike M

            There are no law suits when the police don’t show up to make people feel better. In this case, it sounds like they did NOT enforce the law, because they were unable to do so. By the way, there was no kidnapping. Sorry if your taxes are too low. Mine are too high.

          • Dan Pressler

            You need to get the cops up to speed ASAP so if it is real they are ready to go – or would you rather give the bad guys another 20 minutes to kill your kid & escape

          • Mike M

            It’s a well known scam now. The odds of it being real, almost zero. They got the cops ASAP. But if the investigation was not advanced, it was a waste.

  • GEMDlady

    So did the Police catch the scammers?

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