It never ceases to amaze me how depraved people are. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, here comes something new.
As much as I love technology, I understand those who shun social media and smartphones. I love watching funny videos on Instagram and using FaceTime to see people in real time, but what we use for fun, crooks and thieves use against us.
I can’t count the number of phone calls I receive from people telling me I’ve received a $10K small business loan I never applied for, or how Microsoft needs me to contact them. It’s to the point where I rarely answer numbers I don’t know, preferring the caller leave a message. However, there are times I do answer the phone. I’m a mom, and sometimes you just never know if your child’s phone has died and she’s calling from a friend’s phone. I’m also the editor of two publications. I give my number out regularly as it’s part of the job. Most of the time, though, I regret answering my phone because it’s spam. Some days I don’t have one call. Others, it’s as if the calls won’t stop coming.
As if this wasn’t enough to deal with on a regular basis, now there’s the kidnapping hoax. A very common hoax in the south and southwest, the kidnapping hoax has arrived in Indiana. If you’re not familiar with this new way of scammers getting your hard-earned dollars, I’ll explain it. After scanning your social media platforms, the scammers call your cell phone by cloning contacts and tell you they’ve kidnapped a loved one.
I have to say these scammers really use their brains for evil. While I avoid unknown numbers, there’s no question I will answer the phone if my son or daughter calls. The scammers then tell you they’re holding your loved one for ransom, usually a small amount of money for a kidnapping. You can get your relative back for about $1,000 or $1,500. The callers tell you not to contact anyone, especially not the police.
I can only imagine how panicked someone who received such a call would be. How could you think clearly when someone calls to say your son or daughter or spouse has been kidnapped? More than likely you’re not even catching the clues that none of this is real, and that’s what these scammers are banking on.
I’ve read article after article about how in this age of social media we’re less connected to each other, although we have numerous ways of connecting. I doubt this will change. In fact, I’m afraid that we’re going to see more and more scams coming by way of social media. It’s just another reminder that we have to stay alert, aware and be mindful of how much we post on social media.