Virtual kidnapping is just as scary as it sounds. Not only are they faking a kidnapping, but they're hacking into your information to make this kidnapping look as real as possible.
Here's what happens: you receive a call from your loved one from their phone. You answer the phone and you hear your loved one panicking and crying into the phone. Before you can react, a man's voice comes over the phone and demands money or your loved one will die.
It's extremely easy to spoof a phone call, and these hackers know how to do it perfectly. The technology exists and is slowly being perfected with each successful scam.
The scammers will use the high tension situation to successfully barter thousands of dollars from their victims under the guise of immediate danger... In reality, no one is in danger except the poor person being scammed.
A lot of people are able to get in contact with the person who is allegedly kidnapped, which then confirms the fact that it's a scam. The FBI has a few tips to deescalate the situation to make sure there is a real and present danger.
If the kidnappers won't let you talk to the victim, that's a sign. If you don't hear anything else other than the same words or sounds repeated, that's a pretty good indicator that it's simply fake.
The FBI also say that if the dollar amount is low, like $1000, then it's probably fake. Do your best to relax and contact that family member outside of the phone call.
Also, the FBI recommends always reporting these scams. There isn't a lot of data on virtual kidnappings as people usually leave them unreported, thinking it's just a "scam." In reality, these things can get very dangerous.
A Reddit user went onto the site to report their own experience with virtual kidnapping. Their grandfather got a call from a scammer with his grandchild screaming and crying into the phone. After a quick moment of that, the kidnapper speaks into the phone.
The Reddit user, being upstairs, went downstairs to see who their grandfather was talking to. Then, it became apparent that it was a prank or a scam. At the end of the phone call, the person says, "I can see you right now, Bartholomew."
Then, the doorbell rings and they find a severed goose head on their front step.
Whether or not this was a sick prank or some scammers trying to be tough, it's still a huge threat to peoples' safety. They know where you live and have your information, so it's always smart to contact the police.