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Police warn public of “kidnapping” phone scam


The Reno Police Department alerted the public Wednesday about a new telephone call scam that involves an anonymous person telling victims they’ve kidnapped one of their family members.

Police said the caller claims they have the victim’s family member, with the most recent case being identified as the victims’ child.

“The unknown person then demands money be paid to them in exchange for the family member,” Reno police said on Twitter. “Ultimately in this case, the victims’ children were accounted for and safe.”

The suspect’s phone number came back to an inactive landline, police said.

Police say using the following strategies can help people avoid scams:

  • Don’t answer or return calls you aren’t expecting.
  • Don’t identify family members by name.
  • Use voicemail to screen calls.
  • If a caller asks for payment with retail or gaming gift cards, money wires or to mail cash, hang up.
  • Check privacy settings on social media accounts. The more information one makes available, the more information scammers can use to convince them a scam is real.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.