Scams, where con-artists call people up and claim family members, are in trouble and they need to act now are nothing new.

In fact, I know that I’ve warned you about so-called ‘grandparent’ scams where crooks call people and either impersonate their grandchildren or claim to be calling on behalf of a grandchild or it either injured or in some type of legal trouble and needs money immediately to pay for medical care, bail, or legal representation.

Of course, the victims’ grandchild is in no real danger. These thieves don’t even know for sure if you have grandchildren. For the most part, they just randomly target people. 

Law enforcement is now warning people that these cons are broadening their attacks and putting an even sicker twist on this scam by claiming to have kidnapped children who will be harmed if the parents or grandparents don’t fork over cash right now.

One man paid $5,000 after receiving a call to his cell phone demanding payment for the return of his daughter. He withdrew the money from the bank and transferred it by wire to Mexico. This was before he received a call from his daughter who was just fine and hadn’t been kidnapped. Another family was told their child had been kidnapped from college. They were also instructed to send money to Mexico. This time the parents called the police who discovered their daughter was fine and were able to stop the transfer of the money.

The calls may have just been random or crooks might have been able to determine that the victims had kids by scanning social media sites. It’s likely these scammers weren’t even in the United States.

Police say that you should never agree to pay a ransom. If you’re targeted by a scheme like this, even if you can verify your loved one is safe, call law enforcement.

These criminals are counting on a fear response. The same fear response that can make us click on phishing scams that claim our account has been hacked or respond to IRS scams. Take a minute. Take a breath. Don’t fall for it.