Criminals trying to con Vegas Valley families through 'virtual k - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Criminals trying to con Vegas Valley families through 'virtual kidnapping'

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Las Vegas Metro police are warning families about the dangers of virtual kidnapping.

"If you think you want to try me, go right ahead,  you can go right ahead," a voice said. "I can tell you, there are no second chances."

These are the words that woke up a valley mother this week. Erin Mattay's mom, who didn't want to give out her name, received a phone call around 6:00 a.m. Sunday. The callers said they had Erin's daughter. 

"My mom got a phone call, they said I was in an accident and being held against my will," Erin Mattay said. Erin's mom said she was concerned someone really had her daughter, so she began recording the phone call. 

"Just so you know whatever happens to your daughter, will be because of you," the caller told Erin's mom. The man also said Erin couldn't talk on the phone because she had a head injury. He told Erin's mom if she ever wanted to see her daughter again, she'd have to pay $3,500. 

"I am a disabled widow. I don't have a lot of money," Erin's mom told the callers. "I would have to take out a loan or something."

"So you can't help your daughter?" the man replied. 

"I can call some family members. When do you need this money?" she asked. 

"Now lady, right now!" the man yelled. 

Erin said her mom began to panicking, so despite the callers warning, she called her daughter, but Erin didn't answer. On the phone recording, Erin's mom then began pleading with the caller to let her talk to her daughter. 

"I thought you were going to put my daughter on the phone?" 

"If you are going to help her, tell me now, because I am pissed off," the man replied. 

In a frantic voice Erin's mom said, "Of course I am going to help her!"

The call lasted about six minutes and during the conversation there are long pauses where Erin's mom struggles to find her words, then the call goes dead. Erin's mom immediately contacted police.

"I woke up when police were knocking on my door," Erin said. 

Erin was just fine but her mom was shook up.

"She was panicking ," Erin said. "She doesn't have money to pay ransoms, but if she did, she absolutely would've paid."

Metro Police said it's a clear case of virtual kidnapping.

Officers said the FBI has been addressing the problem lately because of how common it's become. Metro said there is an increasing number of these crimes in the valley and most of the time, parents just pay the caller, and lose money.

Investigators said typically these scammers use a google number so they are hard to trace. 

Anyone who gets one of these calls is urged to try and stall the conversation, avoid giving out any information to these people and call the family member they claim to have, Metro said. 

Police said criminals find victims through social media. Scammers find a family, the mother's name, and the children's, and call using the information readily available on social media to sound like they really have the family member they're describing.

Metro Police said they want people to remember what they put on social media, and to make sure all accounts are private. 

Police also said there are ways to wipe personal information about yourself off the internet on websites like Intelius

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