Skip to main content

Minnesotans are being targeted by a kidnapping scam

Scammers tell victims they have kidnapped their child, and then demand money for their release.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Parents and grandparents in the Twin Cities are being targeted by scammers who say they have kidnapped one of their loved ones in order to extort money.

A warning issued by the Edina Police Department earlier this week alerts residents to the scam, in which con-artists use "a young voice" to trick victims into thinking they've kidnapped a son, daughter or grandchild.

The call comes from either an out-of-town number or from a number spoofed as being the same as the family member's cellphone, with the scammers usually saying they need to be wired money before they release the victim's loved one.

"The officers who have been on these calls heard the person on the other end of the phone and it is convincing," Edina PD Sgt. Kevin Rofidal said in a news release. "Some say it’s foolish, but this is choreographed and practiced. It works and I’m sure it doesn’t work sometimes. But to the scammer, they just move onto the next person until it works."

Edina is not the first department to warn about this scam in the Twin Cities. Bloomington PD has it listed as a "common scam" on its website, adding that it is not just limited to child relatives but adults as well.

Scammers are armed with just enough information to make you believe it's real, the department says.

If you can't contact your loved one, the police advise victims ask some basic questions of the caller to verify their story, such as asking what car their relative were driving when they were taken, or a personal question the caller is not likely to know the answer to.

"Try and get the phone number that called you and stay calm," it adds.

This type of scam is widespread. NBC Bay Area recently reported on an instance where it was successful, with the victim wiring money to Mexico after she was convinced her daughter had been kidnapped.

Next Up

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.

covid

Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.

gov tim walz

Walz's $2.7B infrastructure plan includes $940M for climate projects

Projects will help Minnesota prevent or adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts, the governor says.

south st paul mayor twitter 2

'Just took this': MN mayor tweeting others' pics says it's for 'entertainment'

The mayor told Bring Me The News his goal on Twitter is to spread joy.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 19

More than 44,000 new cases reported from the holiday weekend.

rise bagel co

Bagel shop closes amid vax-or-test mandate, posts: 'All are welcome here'

Other Twin Cities restaurants have also temporarily closed this week.

Rick Spielman

Spielman: 'It was constantly like a moving target all the time'

Spielman said drafting and rostering players who fit the scheme was difficult with all of the offensive coordinators Mike Zimmer had.

Related

Spring breakers beware – don't let your relatives fall victim to the 'grandparent scam'

Elderly residents are being targeted by scammers over spring break.

Don't fall for this jury duty scam targeting Minnesotans

Minnesota's leading judge has warned scammers are preying on vulnerable people.

Woman scammed out of more than $100K over 9 months

The victim was sending money orders over a period of about nine months.

Someone's stealing and burning LGBTQ pride flags

Residents in Hudson have pledged to fly pride flags in solidarity with the victims.

At least two recent cases of Somali-Americans being targeted in MN

Twice in the past week, Somali-Americans in Minnesota have been targeted with violence or threats.

Hennepin County isn't happy about being put on Trump's immigration detainer list

Hennepin County appeared on the first list from Homeland Security that picks out law enforcement organizations not complying with federal immigration requests.

Racist graffiti painted on Hmong family's garage door

"Keep in mind that karma will get you," one of the victims said in a widely-shared Facebook post.

Charges: 'Spiritual guide' priest had sexual contact with MN woman

A Catholic priest from California has been charged with having sexual contact in Minnesota with a woman for whom he was a "spiritual guide."