TikToker warns against virtual kidnapping scam

virtual kidnapping scamRonstik/Shutterstock

A TikToker is warning people about a virtual kidnapping scam that successfully spoofed her sister’s photo and phone number.

Scam calls have been a problem for several years, with frauds pretending to be everyone from the IRS to local police in an effort to virtually rob people of their money.

In 2022 alone, American citizens were tricked into paying billions of dollars to phone scammers. For scammers, it’s a game of numbers that just so happens to pay off every now and again. Their victims surely don’t see it that way.

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And despite advancements in media literacy, these types of calls and texts have only become more effective. The ability to spoof contact information has made the matter all the more terrifying, too.

TikTok user warns of virtual kidnapping scam that tricked her

TikToker Bethroyce recently revealed a horrifying phone scam experience wherein she fully believed her younger sister had been kidnapped.

The TikToker said she received a call after 7:00AM that looked to be from her sister – the contact information and photo featured no obvious distinctions from the real contact in her phone.

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Instead of her sister, Beth said a man spoke up when she answered. He claimed to have her sister and threatened to hurt her if the woman told anyone what was happening or tried calling police.

What sealed the deal for the TikToker was hearing muffled sobbing in the background. The man told her he’d just gotten out of prison and needed $500 to get home. Beth sent the money as asked, believing it’d save her loved one’s life.

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Fortunately, her mother was visiting, learned what had happened, then snuck away to call the police and check on the sister – who hadn’t been taken after all.

Beth called the virtual kidnapping scam the “scariest moment of my life.” She seems prepared for the next fraudster who comes along, though.

The TikToker read that in the event of getting a call like this, it’s best to hang up and call right back “because it’ll call your actual contact.”

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Many comments on the TikTok page call out the terror of the ordeal, with one 911 dispatcher noting that this sadly “happens a lot.”

Meanwhile, others mentioned their fears of how things could get worse with deepfake voice and video technology.