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RCMP warning following unique abduction scam in Richmond

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Summary

Scammers spoofed a caller ID and told the victim they had abducted partner, demanded ransom

RCMP found 'kidnapped' person safe, unaware of apparent abduction

Victim paid 'ransom' of over $10,000 in bitcoin

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – Mounties in Richmond are warning of a unique scam that duped a man out of over $10,000 worth of bitcoin.

Monday night just before 7 o’clock officers responded to reports of an abduction on Dover Crescent and Lynas Lane, only to find no one had been kidnapped.

“[Scammer or scammers] were allegedly able to spoof a cell phone caller ID, contact a victim, and demand a ransom for the safe return of their partner,” explains Cpl. Dennis Hwang.

“The victim believed that the caller was using their partner’s cell phone as the number was spoofed and transferred in excess of $10,000 to a bitcoin ATM located at [Westminster Highway] and No. 3 Road.”

The victim then realized this ransom demand may have been an elaborate scam.

“We ended up locating the victim’s partner, unharmed, and they were unaware of their supposed abduction.”

He says this scam is unique, and they’re warning the public to watch out for this kind of phone call. Hwang also says anything with a gift card or bitcoin type payment demands should raise some red flags, adding bitcoin scams are particularly popular right now.

“We’d recommend to take a step back and realize something odd is going on [if you get a phone call like this].”

An abduction scam makes the situation feel significantly more urgent, so Hwang says partners and families should have a safe word in case of emergencies.

“Something only you guys will know, something that’s very, very unusual, a phrase or a saying or some sort of memory and that could assist you in determining whether something is more legitimate. That’s what we’d recommend.”

He adds law enforcement takes abduction cases very seriously and will act quickly on. He adds, while it’s unfortunate the victim was scammed, it’s good news that there was no real abduction.

An investigation into the ransom scam is ongoing.