While this is a Monday post, it is not the usual NROP.
Just like I mentioned in my last post, the media outlets are flooded with single-topic pieces for prolonged periods of time, which means that there are fewer things for me to discuss here. We all live and breathe the Russia – Ukraine conflict. Today, I choose not to add to that pile.
When I am searching for ideas for my NROPs, I sometimes open Twitter to see what is trending. It almost never helps. However, this time around, I noticed something that was not absolute BS and decided that it was actually an important topic to write about – kidnapping. Since everyone who is not in the business of kidnapping will agree that it is a bad thing – I had to drop the ‘O’ and write a NRP. (Maybe I should use this as an opportunity to rename the series?!)
It seems like the topic of kidnapping has made its way into my life on a few different occasions recently – enough for me to think that I need to take note of it and share it with you, too.
A few days ago, I watched an episode of Chicago P.D. – a cop TV show – during which two police officers struggled with their (adopted) daughter being kidnapped. It perfectly depicted how we react differently when we are just doing our job vs. when we have skin in the game. One cop did not want to negotiate with terrorists (law enforcement protocol), while the other one threw the guidelines out the window because they did not want their daughter to die in case the kidnappers were not bluffing.
Blackmail is a riveting topic. Refuse to play into it, risk losing everything. Bite, and you might end up losing even more. These cases seem more of a gamble to me. I hope that none of us will ever have to be in a position to choose.
Someone I know announced a couple of weeks ago that their young, female family member was almost abducted. Apparently, the girl was on her way to meet up with someone she met through one of the social media platforms. Thankfully, an adult stepped in and things were handled.
When I was a kid – I was told not to take anything from strangers unless my parents said it was OK. It was drilled into me that talking to or going anywhere with a stranger I did not know was a big no-no. How is it that talking online is any different? Yes, there is no apparent, imminent danger, but that does not mean that there is not anything nefarious going on. While I am on here, sharing my life with strangers, I believe that a person needs to be mature enough and be aware of the potential consequences before they are allowed to converse with random people online. If you would not trust your kid with a stranger in the real world, you should not trust them online. Just because there is not an arm that can come out of a screen and snatch your kid, it does not mean that your child is safe.
Although virtual kidnapping has existed for a few years now, authorities are raising awareness as the number of these cases goes up in Illinois.
When I first heard the term ‘virtual kidnapping,’ I thought it was one of the ‘Your computer has been locked. Call us to fix it’ type of scams. I deduced that they were holding your computer ransom with the use of malware until you met their demands, but it is something more serious than that.
In a case of virtual kidnapping, you get a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped your child (or any other family member). Just like in a stereotypical kidnapping – you are told to contact no one and asked for money or else… Most likely, you will be kept on the phone until the money is wired/delivered so that you cannot call anyone for help. The FBI reports that, on average, thousands of dollars are paid before law enforcement is contacted.
Even though you might hear some screams for help during such a call, it is not real. While you are going through a horrifying experience, your kid is safely at school.
Many people do not answer calls from numbers they do not know, which often saves them quite a few encounters with scammers. However, it is not unheard of that scammers use a spoofing method to make it seem like it is your child calling you.
So, how do you protect yourself from a scam like that?
First of all, try to limit what you post on social media. If anyone can know where you are at all times, it is much easier to gather the information that will then be used against you/your family. Secondly, be sure to communicate with your loved ones – let them know about this scam and check in with them when you say you will. Another thing to discuss is a password that only a few people will know and that could be used to verify if you really are in danger.
I wanted to laugh when I read that you are supposed to call the ‘kidnapped’ person to make sure that they are OK while on the phone with the kidnappers. Most people have gotten rid of their landlines and only have cell phones. If you are the only person in the house, there are no other phones to use. I switched cell phone service providers recently and I encountered some issues right after my SIM card was replaced. While I expected the employee to call the carrier from the store phone, their first question was if I had another phone I could use to make that call. Yes, I carry seven different phones with me at all times so when strong winds come, I am heavier and hopefully will not be blown away…
You might not be able to call your loved ones while on such a call, but you can try to text them. Although, that can be tricky as not everyone (?) has their eyes and fingers glued to their phones 24/7.
If you receive a call from kidnappers, remain calm. Then, ask to speak to your kid, or whoever is supposedly held captive. Ask them questions only they would know answers to. However, do not ask to speak to them by name. Anything that can, WILL be used to manipulate you. Say, you hear screams: “Dad, help!” Your first reaction might be to ask: “Jay, are you hurt?” And then they know your son’s name is Jay. Some of those scammers are stationed abroad and just go through hundreds of numbers hoping that something will bite. They might even call people without kids, claiming that they have kidnapped their child.
If the call comes from an unknown number, ask the kidnappers to call back from your loved one’s phone to verify if the situation is real.
As you can see, there is no one script to this. You just have to stay vigilant to not fall for a virtual kidnapping scam.
P.S. How is this ‘virtual’ kidnapping? It is such a silly name. It would make more sense if you got a video with your kid photoshopped in. (I guess it is an opinion piece, after all.) Ha! And just as I said that I found the below – much more fitting of the ‘virtual kidnapping’ name.
Oh, boy. This could be a topic for a separate post. But, back to the topic at hand.
If you want to read about (virtual) abductions stories, check out an article on corruptionbycops.com.
- What do you think?
- What do you do to keep your kids safe online?
- Have you heards of ‘virtual kidnapping’ before?
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