On Tuesday, May 19, Mammoth Lakes Police were contacted regarding a possible kidnapping. The reporting party, a local Mammoth Lakes resident, told police that he had just received a call on his cell phone. The suspect stated that he had kidnapped his son and would need to pay or they would kill him.
It was later learned that he also called the reporting party’s wife, on her cell phone. The reporting party said he could hear a child in the background screaming, “Daddy, they are hurting me.” The caller instructed the reporting party to go the bank, withdraw all of his funds and take the money to the Vons parking lot, where he would meet the suspect in a white van. The reporting party was further told that if he contacted the police, his son would be killed.
The caller telephoned several times. While other officers were formulating a tactical plan, Officer Lehr, the School Resource Officer first confirmed that the child was currently in school, and then personally made contact with him to confirm he was safe and had not actually been kidnapped.
The caller eventually demanded that the reporting party purchase a money order and send it to a location in Mexico. Since the child was already confirmed to be safe and had not in fact been the victim of an actual kidnapping, the communications between the reporting party and the caller ceased.
The caller was a male, with a Hispanic accent. No suspect has been identified.
The FBI has been notified regarding this case. Per the FBI, this type of Virtual Kidnapping Scam is on the rise.
If you receive this or a similar call, do notify law enforcement immediately, and don’t make any payments or other concessions prior to doing so.