Schools warn of ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam targeting parents


(AP) – Schools across the U.S. are warning about a scam to convince parents that their children have been kidnapped – even though they haven’t.

Cases of so-called virtual kidnapping have been reported recently in states including Virginia, California and Texas. Authorities say the scam often targets the parents of college students, tricking some into paying thousands of dollars.

In the scam, parents receive a call from a stranger who claims to have kidnapped their child, and demands that they wire a ransom. The FBI says the ransom is usually between $600 and $1,300.

Georgetown University and several other colleges have issued alerts about the scam.

Police say that if parents get one of the calls, they should text their child or contact the child through social media. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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