Authorities today warned the public to beware of a ``virtual kidnapping'' scam through which thieves try to extort money from people by falsely claiming to be holding a friend or loved one captive for ransom.
Over the last week, the San Diego Police Department has responded to 10 similar reports of the crime from several businesses in southern and central districts of the city, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Scott Wahl said.
In some of the cases, a Spanish-speaking person claimed to be a member of an organized-crime group and warned of armed men raiding the workplace in question if money was not paid.``We believe all of these calls to be a hoax,'' Wahl said.
All the supposedly abducted people turned out to be unharmed and unaware that the scam was being perpetrated in their names, often through the use of personal information obtained from social media or other open sources, the lieutenant said.
``If individuals or businesses receive these types of calls, we urge them to call the police immediately,'' Wahl said. ``Responding officers will evaluate the call for validity and direct resources as needed.''
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