In the latest in a string of telephonic cons aimed at separating victims from their money through the use of Internet or telephone – Danville police officers saved a 52-year-old resident from wiring a large sum of money to “kidnappers” who told him they were holding his daughter hostage Monday.
Danville Police Chief Allan Shields said the panic-stricken father was on the phone with the con men and counting “a large stack of bills” when he was approached by officers who were able to determine the whereabouts and safety of the man’s daughters – and pull the plug on the con.
“This one was different in that they wouldn’t let him hang up the phone,” Shields said Tuesday. “They were guiding him with detailed instructions and limiting his opportunity to contact law enforcement.”
Shields said the victim was phoned at his work in San Ramon at 11:19 a.m. Monday, not recognizing the incoming number but noting that it appeared to originate from out of the country.
“The next thing he hears is his daughter screaming she has been kidnapped, that she is being held in a van, and that he should do what the kidnappers wanted,” Shield said.
It turns out the would-be victim attempted to flag down police in San Ramon immediately after he was contacted but they couldn’t reach him in time, instead sharing their description of the victim with Danville PD and later helping to determine that one of the man’s daughters, who attended a local school, was safe after officers located the victim in the parking lot of a local Western Union outlet.
Minutes away from wiring the “ransom money,” according to Shields.
“Our guys were able to slow things down and with help from San Ramon officers, determine that the victim’s daughters were safe,” Shields said. “That was the end of the call.”
The Kidnap Con, a variant of the “IRS Penalty” or “Your Grandson Is In Jail” scam, differed from past crimes in that the con men – and apparently at least one con woman – were careful to “groom” their victim, moving him from place to place at their will and affording him no opportunity to contact authorities.
Contacting police early on is critical in heading off these crimes, Shields said, as past victims who have succumbed to phone or Internet con men have wired off tens of thousands of dollars – with little to no hope of ever recovering the money.