BY MONICA HERNANDEZ-LARA
Parents be alert of someone claiming to have your child. On Tuesday in Los Alamos, a friend quickly answered her phone at a time she was expecting a call. The person on the line originally identified themselves as a police officer and there were sounds of a crying child in the background. When pressed with questions about the emergency, the caller became agitated and informed my friend that he moved the child in his van and would share a location to meet to exchange the child for money.
The scammer used cruel tactics to keep her on the call for over 30 minutes: he referenced specific locations in town, he demanded she follow complicated instructions, and he tapped into her fear of endangering or losing her child with horrific threats. It is uncertain if the demand for money would have led to instructions for wiring the money or meeting in person for a cash exchange, she ended the call when she learned her child was safe in school.
My friend, her family, and I extend our appreciation to the Los Alamos police officers and the Los Alamos school staff that worked together to verify the safety of her child during the call while she was in the bank (yes, this smart amazing mom was ready to get cash to save her child). A big thank you to the bank staff too. We also send a heartfelt thank you to the people that were nearby during the beginning of the incident, they overheard the call, they thoughtfully supported her, and someone was able to quietly contact the police department. After she shared the detailed story with me, she asked me to share her experience with the community and maintain her anonymity, she hopes to prevent anyone else from having the same horrible experience.
Online, there are many articles with similar terrifying stories. There are also numerous websites with advice and warnings on kidnapping scams, one example is on the National Institute of Health (NIH) website at https://ors.od.nih.gov/…/Beware-of-Virtual-Kidnapping…. The NIH website provides information about kidnapping scams and lists some indicators for extortion attempts.