Police warn of virtual kidnappings after Chapel Hill parents fall victim to scam

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Two Chapel Hill parents withdrew ransom money after getting a recent call that their daughter had been kidnapped.

The mother was on the phone with police during the incident.

“They want the money,” the mother said. “They want us to take it to CVS to somehow wire transfer it to someplace.”

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“Ok, do you still have them on the phone by chance,” asked the 911 operator.

“No, my husband’s been on the phone,” she replied.

Police say a stranger called the family on Nov. 30 demanding money to returned their daughter, who lives in South Carolina.

“They expect him now to go to CVS, quickly as you can, and wire transfer the money,” she said on the phone.

“Have you spoken to your daughter,” the operator asked.

“No,” she replied. “I can’t get ahold of her.”

Pressed for time, the parents left the bank with the money the caller demanded.

“We need to go because they’re telling us we gotta wire transfer the money or she’s in danger,” she said.

“Stay on the line,” the 911 operator demanded.

“Ok, we gotta go,” the mother insisted.

That was the last time the mother was heard on the 911 call.

“Ma’am,” said the operator. “Ma’am. Hello?”

Chapel Hill police say it was all fake and the daughter is fine.

The police department is warning people about phone scams claiming a kidnapping.

Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone.

Authorities said it is hard for the police department to catch the perpetrators of such crimes.

“There are a lot of difficulties in that,” said Chapel Hill Police Capt. Josh Mecimore.

He says it’s challenging because the crime goes beyond their district.

“Situations when it crosses boundaries like that, that we have to get other agencies involved like the SBI or the FBI,” he said.

Police say scammers do their homework and get information that will make you believe it’s legit.

If you get a similar call, write the number down, hang up, call your loved one to make sure they’re safe, then call police.

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