East Lyme police warn parents about kidnapping scam

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East Lyme — Police Chief Michael Finkelstein is warning about a scam in which a caller tries to extort money by pretending a parent's child has been kidnapped.

Finkelstein said police got calls from two parents about this scam on Monday but that neither case involved any financial loss.

In each case, the caller said the parent's teenaged child was the victim of kidnapping and that the parent must go directly to Walmart to wire money, Finkelstein said.

"In both cases, we immediately confirmed that the kids were in fact in a safe location, so that's why we were quickly able to establish in both of them that it is not legitimate," he said. "It is consistent with other scams that have happened not just in eastern Connecticut but nationwide."

If a call like this comes in, Finkelstein encourages parents to immediately contact both police and the allegedly kidnapped child.

"They play on people's emotions and then you have situations where people, out of emotion, will go and send their money to an anonymous place," he said.

The East Lyme Police Department is investigating the incidents. Finkelstein said police will reach out to other area departments on Tuesday to see if they have encountered these scams recently, and if so, try to determine if the perpetrator appears to be the same person.

Finkelstein said these kinds of calls come in consistently but that the victims receiving the calls are usually older, such as grandparents.

e.moser@theday.com

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