DARIEN, Conn. -- Darien police are warning residents of a recent phone scam after a parent of a Darien High School student fell victim to it.
The parent lost about $1,800 in the phone scam, according to police. Two other residents reported incidents but did not suffer any losses.
The scam typically involves the victim receiving a phone call informing them that their child was involved in an accident, Darien police say. The caller will tell the target that their child hit the car of gang members and is being held at gunpoint until the gang gets money to pay for the damage. They will tell their target to stay on the phone and not contact the police, and then direct them to drive to an ATM and withdraw a large sum of money. They may even threaten the child with torture, police said.
Police said the fake kidnappers will tell their target to meet them at a retail location with the cash but will not show up. They will tell their target to instead wire the money, and once the transaction is completed, they will hang up. When the victim tries to call back, there is no answer and no way to leave a voicemail, police said.
These incidents often originate outside the United States, police said. The money transferred is often never recovered.
Darien police offered these tips to avoid falling victim to a scam:
- Memorize or keep a written list of family cellphone numbers that can be easily accessed.
- Do not provide family information over the phone.
- Attempt to identify the location of the caller, as well as the family member that has been purportedly kidnapped, as the scammer may be unfamiliar with the local area.
- Ask specific questions to determine the validity of the call, such as asking the "kidnapper" to describe your family member.
- Contact the police as soon as possible, even if instructed not to, and save incoming telephone numbers, texts, voicemails or photos sent by the caller.
- Police also warn potential victims not to panic, as the scam preys on fear.