West Hartford Police are warning residents about a scam where callers are led to believe their grandchild has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom.
Officers said they responded to a house on Sunday afternoon after getting a report that someone's spouse had left home to pay people who he believed had kidnapped his grandson.
The complainant said that about an hour before police arrived, their spouse received a telephone call on their cell phone leading them to believe their grandson had been abducted, had been harmed and was being held for ransom. The complainant's spouse left their house to follow the instructions of the kidnappers, police said.
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The instructions led the victim to different stores to send money that they believed was going to secure the release of their grandson. While the incident was occurring, police looked for the victim before they ultimately were able to find them in a shopping area parking lot, according to officers.
Before the victim was located by police, the victim had sent the alleged kidnappers a few thousand dollars using electronic services including MoneyGram, RIA Financial Services and Western Union, police said. Once officers arrived, the victim was able to cancel two of the transactions before they could be completed. In total, only one transaction for approximately $700 was lost to the perpetrators, officers said.
The incident is still under investigation. Officers are working to identify the individual or individuals responsible.
Police are warning residents that they should be skeptical of calls claiming that relatives are kidnapped and/or have been arrested in a remote state or country. Officers say the scams are not uncommon and often times the victims themselves provide the perpetrators with enough information to make the threats seem legitimate. If possible, residents are urged to call or text the relatives in question to see if the threats are credible. If similar calls are received, residents are told not to mention the names, genders, ages or other descriptive qualities of the relatives in question.