Police: Beware of 'virtual kidnapping' scam in metro Denver

Scammers prey on your emotions and fears

ARVADA, Colo. -- You could call it the newest twist on the grandparents' scam. You know the one -- your grandchild is in jail somewhere and you need to wire money to get them out!

Both the Arvada Police Department and the Denver District Attorney’s Office are now warning about a new ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam that also preys on our emotions related to family members.

It’s all about swindling you out of your money. The latest scam is elaborate: a fake accident, the threat of a kidnapping and a ransom you have to pay immediately.

“This is kind of a new take on an old scam," said Jill McGranahan, spokeswoman for Arvada PD.

The scam typically goes something like this: You get a call that there's been an accident. Your loved one hit a gang member. The gang member isn't going to call police to report the accident, but you have to pay up -- or your loved one will be kidnapped.

"You need to send the money right now, go wire it to wherever, or we're going to kidnap your loved one," McGranahan said. “The thing that all of these scams have in common is that they use various techniques to build up that fear, that emotion. We all make decisions in a panic when it involves our loved ones."

Arvada PD said rather than fall for the scam, hang up and call police immediately to report it. You can always have police conduct a welfare check if you’re really worried about a loved one’s well-being.

"People are always looking for a way to get your hard-earned money,” McGranahan said. “And they get more and more inventive."

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