Would you go to great lengths if you received a call that your loved one had been kidnapped?
A Honolulu family did, and it turned out to be a scam.
The Honolulu Police Department said the caller tells victims that a family member has been kidnapped, and demands money to be wired to Mexico for their safe release.
The calls have all come from a private number.
HPD said it’s received three reports so far, and in one of those cases, the victim did end up sending money.
The victim wants to remain anonymous but he told KHON2 he’s still traumatized by the whole ordeal. He never thought something like this could happen to his family.
The victim said he and his son were unknowingly scammed at the same time.
He said he’d been trying to reach his son by phone but couldn’t get ahold of him. The victim said he answered a call from a private number thinking it might be him.
“The first thing I heard was ‘Dad,’ and then rustling sound and it sounded like someone interrupted saying ‘we have a situation here,'” the victim said.
The caller told the victim he had his son and demanded money.
Still unable to reach his son, the victim drove to the bank while a coworker called police.
“Throughout the whole ordeal he threatened killing my son, slashing his throat, cutting his fingers off, putting a bullet through his head,” the victim said. “It’s kind of stressful yea.”
The victim said officers on scene informed him it was a scam but we’re told police were also unable to make contact with the son.
Hours later, he finally called.
It turns out his son had also received a call from a private number shortly before they contacted him.
“He asked me what happened to his auntie,” the victim said. “They also played a female’s voice in distress crying and saying his name. They instructed him to go to the bank and wire money which unfortunately he did.”
The caller is described as a male with a thick accent who couldn’t pronounce local names and places.
The victim believes multiple suspects are involved.
“Later on when I asked my son, ‘hey did they tell you to say anything?’ He said ‘yea to say I’m ok so I said I’m ok,” the victim said. “It sounded like a recording, you could kind of tell because there was a little hissing and the voice wasn’t as loud.”
Police told KHON2 similar incidents have been reported.
“We just had one today, fortunately enough the person was with his daughter who they said was being kidnapped,” Kim Buffett, with Honolulu Crimestoppers, said.
HPD said you should try to verify information with the caller and if something seems off, call police.
“This is getting a little brazen and out there and again we really want to warn the public be careful,” Buffett said.
If you get a call from a private number, HPD says don’t answer and let it go to voice mail. If it’s truly a family member, they’ll leave a message.
HPD is also reminding the public, never send money to someone you don’t know and never post any person personal information like phone numbers or who you’re related to on social media.