Sheriff warns of phone scam targeting parents, claiming children have been kidnapped

(KOMO File Photo)

SEATTLE - The King County Sheriff's Office is warning about a phone scam targeting parents, claiming their children have been kidnapped and the suspect demands money for their safe return.

Investigators said the scam was first reported by a mom in Ravensdale on March 8.

She said she had just dropped her children off at their school bus stop when she received a call on her cell phone from a blocked number.

The caller used her daughter's name, saying she had been kidnapped and demanded money to return the girl. The woman said she could hear young children screaming and crying in the background.

The mother called her children's school and confirmed they were both safe, then called police to report the scam.

"It could be as easy as they look them up on Facebook and they say, 'Oh, here's one with a kid's name. Let's try this number,'" said King Co. Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott. "And there's a lot of numbers you can get online. And then they're just taking a shot at it."

Four days later - on Monday, a father in White Center reported a similar call after his daughter went to school.

He said the call started with a young girl on the phone saying she was in danger.

"He obviously knew his daughter's voice and that it wasn't her voice," said Sgt. Abbott. "She said that she had been kidnapped, that if the dad didn't bring money to this guy, that he was going to kill her."

The suspect then got on the phone and demanded money if the dad wanted to see his daughter again.

The dad called the school and the principal said his daughter was safe.

The dad then called 911 to report the scam.

"If it seems like a scam, if everything doesn't seem to add up, then you're probably right into another scam," said Sgt. Abbott. "Don't ever give them any personal information."

Investigators said if you receive a similar call, you should call 911 immediately to report it. Also write down any phone numbers associated with the call that investigators might be able to track.

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