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Beware of 'virtual kidnapping', Maharashtra cyber police advises parents


MUMBAI: Maharashtra Cyber, the police's specialised wing keeping a tab on online activities, has said that internet crooks have devised a modus operandi in which they make parents fall prey to technological and psychological tricks to make them believe their child has been kidnapped, and force them to pay a ransom.

Officials, however, added that no case of this kind of "virtual kidnapping" has been reported here so far.

They are using technology to spoof calls and morph images to carry out such crimes and target children who are alone at home as their parents are working, an official explained.

"They befriend the child online and employ social engineering tricks to make him or her not attend phone calls or to go incommunicado.

The image of the child, downloaded from social media usually, is then morphed to pull off a fake kidnapping for ransom," the official said.

"Parents, who are unable to contact their kids, get convinced about the kidnapping claim made by these criminals and give in to their demands," he added.

Parents must keep a tab on their child's online activities, report anything untoward to the nearest police station, check if the 'kidnapping' calls are from their child's phone, the Maharashtra Cyber official said.

He asked people to not blindly trust any individual who claims he represents a legal body or embassy or the like.