Kidnapped Relative Scam
How the scam works:
This would have probably seemed exaggerated a couple of years ago, but because 2011 recorded an 800% increase from 2009 in this scam, we thought it was worth mentioning.
Victims receive phone calls from strangers demanding ransom for their relative who is visiting Singapore (or any other exotic place such as Jamaica, Cambodia, Thailand, etc) at that time. Criminals are gathering all the necessary info from social networking sites (where everybody is bragging where they travel) or even after befriending your family member there. The scammer and your relative might have even had drinks last night, and they exchanged phone numbers “for future correspondence”.
What happens is crooks call the numbers right away and get an accomplice to yell “Help” in the background. The scammers demand that the recipient of the call should wire the money within 15 minutes; otherwise they threaten to kill the family member.
Victims get scared when they realize the criminals have their phone numbers and know personal details of the “hostage” .
How to avoid:
If you receive this call, ask to talk to your family member on the spot, otherwise just hang up. Also, make sure you keep updated with his/her exotic adventures on a daily basis. This is why social media is so handy!
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