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Parent’s nightmare: ASU mom nearly falls for scam of kidnapped daughter

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

PHOENIX — Police at Arizona State University are warning parents of a potentially terrifying scam: Someone claiming their child has been kidnapped.

Katy Harris with ASU Police said it appears these scams are random and social media could play a factor in them, but that makes them no less scary.

Helen Sicherman was a victim of one of these scams. Harris said Sicherman told ASU Police she was contacted by a man, allegedly named Diablo, who had kidnapped her daughter.

“They told her that she saw something she shouldn’t have, she witnessed a murder and if I wanted her back, I need to cough up big bucks,” Harris said. “He also threatened to drug her and take her to Mexico.”

Harris said Sicherman fell for the scam and was trying to set up a wire transfer when the call dropped.

“She said, at one point, the call was suddenly disconnected and that’s when she took advantage of the moment and called her daughter,” Harris said. “Her daughter was actually in class.”

Similar scams have been reported around the country.

In a Facebook post, ASU Police said parents should be alert if they receive a strange call from an outside area code, particularly 787, 939 and 856.

The scammers will claim they have kidnapped a loved one and will only accept wire transfers as payment.

In the post, ASU Police said parent should request to speak to the alleged victim directly, contact the victim through a different phone and buy time before making a payment, among other things.

Harris said parents can combat the scammers by keeping online profiles private, especially Facebook, since it allows you to add both family members and your phone number to your profile.

KTAR’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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