The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and Everett police are warning the public about a frightening “kidnapping scam” making the rounds in the area. The scam involves the victim receiving a phone call where the caller tells the victim they have kidnapped their child or other relative and demand ransom money from the victim. The sounds of a person screaming can be heard in the background.
Everett police are investigating one such call that a 65 year-old Everett man received on Sunday, March 5 at 12:30 p.m. The caller told the victim that his 23-year-old daughter had been kidnapped and demanded $30,000 in ransom money. The male caller stated that if the victim didn’t pay, his daughter would be harmed. The victim told police he could hear the sounds a female crying in the background, which he believed to be his daughter. An Everett police officer responded to the victim’s residence and, while on-scene, the suspect called again, this time demanding $500 in ransom. The victim’s daughter was located in Marysville and was unaware of the kidnapping claim and extortion scheme.
While investigating this incident, police discovered several similar calls were received around the county. One Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputy took two reports on Monday, March 6 from two separate victims. In both cases, the caller was male and the sounds of screaming could be heard in the background. Both victims were able to confirm that their family members were safe and accounted for, and hung up on the scammers.
The calls made to victims in Snohomish County came from numbers with 525, 528 and 284 area codes, or from a Mexico area code.
“This is a particularly frightening scam for victims,” said Sheriff Ty Trenary. “We are extremely concerned that this scam, which has been reported previously in other parts of the country, has now hit Snohomish County.”
The FBI warned the public of similar extortion calls in other parts of the U.S. last summer.
If you are the victim of this scam, try to write down the phone number of the caller, then hang up the phone. If you cannot immediately verify the whereabouts and/or safety of family members the suspects have claimed to have kidnapped, please call 911 and ask for assistance from law enforcement.