Kidnapping phone scam targeting parents could cost victims thousands, police warn

Credit: aksoy /

Credit: aksoy /

Police are warning of a kidnapping scam targeting parents in Washington state.

On Friday, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department shared information about a kidnapping scam where suspects attempt to steal thousands of dollars by terrifying parents with false information.

Police said the scam victimized a Spanaway family Wednesday.

Employees at an Albertsons grocery store in Spanaway saw a mother trying to purchase thousands of dollars in gift cards and heard her speaking on the phone with "kidnappers," police said.

Deputies responded, contacting the mother and letting her know the alleged kidnapping was likely a scam. Together, they called her son but didn't get an answer. They searched for her son for hours and eventually found him safe at his workplace, officials said.

Police said the mother was convinced the scam was real because the suspects called from her son's phone number. They also coordinated a joint call with her son that convinced her he was with the suspects.

"The mother asked the 'kidnappers' to prove that they had her son by asking him what movie she and her son were going to watch that night," police said. "The suspects briefly patched the mother and son onto a conference call so they could hear each other's voices, and the suspects were able to get an answer to her verifying question."

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The suspects called the son, claiming to be with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, and told him he missed jury duty and they had a warrant out for his arrest, which they could eliminate if he purchased $5,000 in prepaid gift cards and gave them card codes.

The mother in the Spanaway scam did not end up buying gift cards, but her son lost more than $5,400 that he used buying gift cards to stop what he believed was a warrant for his arrest.

A reminder from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department:

"Please remember the Sheriff’s Department NEVER collects money from the public for arrest warrants, traffic infractions, or missed jury duty. If someone threatens your arrest or the arrest of your family member and demands payment – especially with gift cards! – it is a SCAM.

>> Read the Facebook post here


Posted by Pierce County Sheriff's Department on Friday, June 15, 2018

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