Congressional candidate Justin’s Fareed’s parents were targeted in a virtual kidnapping scam Wednesday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office reports.
Lt. Kevin Huddle confirmed someone claiming to be from the Mexican Mafia called Linda and Donald Fareed and claimed to have kidnapped their daughter, Justin Fareed’s sister.
Sheriff’s officials say the scam involves a person or criminal organization calling a victim and demanding payment for the return of a "kidnapped" family member or friend, though no kidnapping has occurred.
Callers sometimes represent themselves as members of a drug cartel or corrupt law enforcement and, officials say, can be very convincing.
Often times, someone screams in the background on the caller’s end of the line, instilling fear in the person receiving the call, believing that is their loved one.
KSBY News reached out to Justin Fareed’s campaign for comment and hope to receive new information soon. Justin Fareed thanked the sheriff’s office this afternoon on Facebook:
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office previously warned the public about a spike in virtual kidnapping extortion calls in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
To avoid becoming a victim of the scam, the Sheriff’s Office says you should watch out for the following:
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line
- Calls do not come from the "kidnapped" victim’s phone number
- Callers try to prevent you from contacting the "kidnapped" victim
- Multiple successive phone calls
- Incoming calls made from an outside area code
- Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer, not in person
If you receive a phone call like this that you believe to be a scam, sheriff’s officials say you should hang up the phone, immediately contact family members, and notify your local law enforcement.
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