Virtual kidnapping scam targets Raleigh dad for $5,100

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Mark Parker says his emotions were racing when a scammer told him his son had been kidnapped.

Raleigh resident Mark Parker had just said goodbye to his son when just more than an hour later, Parker was contacted by a scammer.

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"I got three phone calls back to back to back," Parker told ABC11.

The scammer told Parker his son was involved in a car accident and demanded $5,100 for his son's safe release. Parker says the call made sense because his son was on his way to UNC Charlotte.

"Whenever it's your kids, you just start panicking," Parker said. "Things go through your mind a mile a minute."

Unaware at the time, Parker had fallen victim to a virtual kidnapping scam.

According to the FBI, "Virtual kidnapping takes on many forms, it is always an extortion scheme - one that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is being threatened with violence or death."



The scammer kept Parker on the line and instructed him to send cash. After a few minutes, Parker went to the Walmart at 6600 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh.

The married father of two went inside the store and proceeded through with the transaction along with a note Parker had written that read: 'THEY'VE GOT MY SON HOSTAGE, I'M IN GRAVE DANGER. PLEASE CALL THE POLICE."

Mark Parker said he was caught up by emotion when the scammers called in reference to his son.



Parker said the Walmart cashier was cooperative and stalled the transaction while they called the police who arrived within 5 minutes.
Out of the $5,100 demanded, Parker wired $500 to Puerto Rico before an error occurred in the transaction.

"You need to leave and get right out," Parker said as he described the caller's demands. "Something's not right."

FBI tips on how to avoid becoming a victim

Parker was told to check his account balance at a nearby ATM and later return to the Walmart. It was during this ordeal that Raleigh Police received at least three other phone calls of the same nature and realized Parker had fallen victim to a scam.

"I pretty much fell to the ground in emotion," Parker said. "In retrospect, I'd wish I'd thought about it and slowed things down a little bit. But the way (the scammer) was speaking with me, I just got caught up in the emotions.

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