Kingsport Police Department

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KINGSPORT — If you’ve recently received a phone call about a friend or family member being kidnapped with a ransom being demanded, pay it no mind.

It’s just the latest scam being attempted by would-be criminals, the Kingsport Police Department advises in a recent press release.

The KPD issued this scam alert on Friday, saying this kidnapping and ransom hoax is making the rounds in the greater Kingsport area. While scams of this nature are not new, over a recent 48-hour period, no less than three similar scams have been reported to area law enforcement, the KPD reports.

The elements of the hoax are as follows:

A would-be victim will receive a phone call from a scam artist claiming that they have kidnapped one of their family members, friends or loved ones. The scam artist has done some research and will typically name a specific person who is known to the victim.

There will often be screaming in the background allegedly from the victim, the KPD reports.

The scam artist will then threaten to harm the hostage and demand that a ransom be paid in exchange for release. The victim will be instructed to go to a specific location to arrange for payment, typically in the form of a wired money transfer.

The Kingsport Police Department is cautioning residents that if they receive such a call, it is almost certainly a scam. Due to telephone number altering technology, it is highly doubtful that the people carrying out these scams are local, and it’s entirely possible that they may not even be operating from within the United States.

If you receive one of these calls, do not turn over any funds and be sure to contact law enforcement to report the incident immediately.

For additional information and tips regarding this type of scam, visit www.fbi.gov/news/stories/virtual-kidnapping.

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