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A phone scam involving fake kidnapping and a ransom demand is reaching homes throughout Snohomish County. Some parts of Puget Sound's eastside are also seeing an uptick.
Everett Police and the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office say a stranger calls demanding a ransom for a family member they say has been kidnapped.
A 65-year-old Everett man received one such call Sunday. He told Everett Police that he heard the sounds of a crying woman, which he believed was his kidnapped daughter. The man was told by the caller that if he didn’t pay a $30,000 ransom, his daughter would be “left on the side of a road with a bullet hole in her.”
When police responded to the victim's home, the scammer called again, this time demanding $500, the sheriff's office said.
The victim’s daughter was actually in Marysville and knew nothing about the scam.
Similar calls were received throughout the county. In all cases the caller was male, and crying could be heard in the background. In all cases, those who received the call confirmed that their “kidnapped” family member was safe and accounted for.
Amanda Vrtis says her phone rang Wednesday morning.
"They kind of just kept repeating, 'I'm in a van, he's got me, help mommy, help,'" said Vrtis, who has a 14-year-old daughter. "I just want everyone to know this is going around, it sounded real. It sounded like her when she gets worked up. It sounded like there was a kid in trouble. It was scary."
Vrtis said the caller hung up. She immediately called her daughter and confirmed she was okay. Then she reported the call to police.
The calls made to Snohomish County residents came from phone numbers with 525, 528, and other area codes from Mexico.
The FBI says there have been similar scams in other parts if the country. The FBI says victims should write down the phone number of the caller before hanging up, then verify the whereabouts and safety of family members that the caller claims have kidnapped.