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In a virtual kidnapping, the most common circumstances are that a demand is made, almost always over the phone, but there is no actual hostage-taking to accompany it.
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Virtual Kidnapping
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September 3, 2020 via ConvergeBlog

In a virtual kidnapping, the most common circumstances are that a demand is made, almost always over the phone, but there is no actual hostage-taking to accompany it. The demand is made to the family, or even a company on the pretext that the person or virtual hostage (most often a relative) has been kidnapped and is under threat.

This crime had its origins in Mexican prisons with prisoners carrying out multiple calls and requesting ransoms to pay for their phone credit. The crime has since become more widespread with cases throughout Latin America, the USA, and Asia, but the ‘scam’ can be so successful that examples could occur anywhere.

Most recently the scam has become much more sophisticated, with criminals using robocall technology and spoofing software to make it appear that they are calling from your relative’s phone number.

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