Scammer bilks Newark woman on April Fools’ Day
A Newark woman fell victim to a scammer who claimed to be holding her son for ransom, police said.
The woman, a 74-year-old resident of the Woods at Louviers neighborhood, received the call around 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, according to Lt. Fred Nelson, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department.
The victim told police the caller was screaming for help and then another person got on the line and claimed he had attacked the woman’s son for not paying a friend’s ransom. The caller demanded the woman send money through gift cards.
The woman complied but later called her son and realized it was a scam, said Nelson, who did not disclose how much money the woman lost.
The incident came shortly after Delaware State Police warned of an increase in virtual kidnapping scams in New Castle County.
“Virtual kidnapping is an extortion scheme that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a family member they believe is being threatened with violence or death,” Master Cpl. Michael Austin said. “Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom.”
Austin advised recipients of such calls to hang up and never agree to pay a ransom. Those who believe a real kidnapping has taken place should contact police immediately.
Anyone with information regarding the Newark incident should contact PFC Andrew Vari at AVari@newark.de.us or 302-366-7100, ext 3486.