The King County Sheriff’s Office said the first reported occurrence of the scam was March 8 in Ravensdale, Washington. A mother dropped her two children off at the school bus, but later received a call from a man who claimed to have her daughter. He threatened to kill the child if a ransom wasn’t received but the mother called the school and confirmed both her children were safe at school.
In a separate instance, a father was called by a woman pretending to be his daughter, who claimed to have been kidnapped. A man got on the phone and said he would hurt the girl if he did not get money. The father called his daughter’s school and was assured by staff that she was safe.
Sergeant Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office said he believes the scammers are using social media to research the victims and gather information, such as the names of their children.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just kids, parents are guilty of having too much personal information online,” Abbott said.
Both of the fake phone calls came from blocked numbers.
The Kings County Sheriff’s Office says to never provide money to anyone over the phone and adds the parents did the right thing in each situation by calling their child’s school to confirm they were safe.
Abbott added, “Listen to what they’re saying, be aware of it, take down as much information as you can, and call 911 to let us know what’s going on.”