Des Moines Elementary School
23801 16th Avenue South Des Moines, WA 98198

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Spotlight on Safety: Understanding Cyber Kidnapping

Spotlight on Safety: Understanding Cyber Kidnapping

Safety is our number one priority.

Two elementary schools in the Bellevue School District recently reported cyber kidnapping incidents. Cyber kidnapping is a new scam where families are tricked into paying money by making them think a loved one is in danger. Although no cases have been reported in Highline, we are sharing information to help our families stay vigilant and safe.

What is Cyber Kidnapping?

Cyber kidnapping involves scammers falsely claiming they've kidnapped a family member. They then demand a ransom, often requesting payment via gift cards or wire transfers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has noted a nationwide increase in these scams, with a particular focus on families who speak a language other than English. The scammers typically use phone numbers from different area codes and try to keep victims on the phone, so they can't contact their loved ones or the authorities.

How to Respond

If you receive such a call, stay calm and think critically. Here are steps to take:

  1. Request to Speak to the Alleged Victim: Ask the caller to let you speak directly with your loved one.
  2. Use a Family Safe Word: Establish a safe word with your family that only you know, making it harder for scammers to succeed.
  3. Ask Personal Questions: Request the caller to answer questions only the supposed victim would know.
  4. Try Other Communication Methods: Use different ways to reach out to the alleged victim to confirm their safety.
  5. Report to Authorities: Inform law enforcement about the incident immediately.