FBI Pittsburgh
Public Affairs Officer Catherine Policicchio
(412) 432-4291
January 18, 2022

Hoax Kidnapping Scam Alert

PITTSBURGH—The FBI Pittsburgh Field Office wants to alert the community to a hoax kidnapping scam targeting people in our area. Last week, more than 450 calls were made by someone living in Mexico to people in the area who have a 724-area code. Through our investigation, we have determined people in Mexico are scanning social media accounts for people traveling in the Southwest border area. They are then calling the traveler's loved ones in our area. During each of the calls, the caller states the person’s loved one is in danger or has been kidnapped. The caller then requests victims to send money as soon as possible.

FBI Pittsburgh wants to remind people to never give out any financial information to someone over the phone you don’t know. We are also asking the public to please alert your family members to this fraud, especially if they are older. Many times, these scammers are convincing, and their actions are criminal. The experience is traumatic for the victims, especially since these scammers sound very real.

If you receive this type of call, remain calm and resist the pressure to act quickly. Get as much information as possible, including the phone number, if possible, of the caller. Hang up and call a family member to verify the information or call a trusted friend to ask for help. Report the call to your local police department or the FBI. If you are still convinced you need to withdraw the money, talk to the manager at your bank and ask for guidance. Never wire money, especially overseas, based on a request made over the phone or in an email. Once you send it, you can’t get it back.

Currently, we are working with our other state, local, federal, and international law enforcement partners to find and arrest the people responsible for these crimes. We are asking the public to report these scam calls, even if you do not give the scammers money. You can file a complaint at IC3.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

If you have additional questions, please contact Public Affairs Specialist Catherine Policicchio.