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.”