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Petaluma police warn of kidnapping telephone scam


Petaluma police are warning residents about a recurrence of a telephone kidnapping scam after a woman reported receiving one Monday afternoon.

The woman said a male caller claimed he had abducted her 17-year-old daughter and he would harm her if the woman did not send him money, police Lt. Ed Crosby said. The teen was alive and well and at a sports practice at her Marin County school.

Petaluma police investigated the phone threat, and issued a news release about it to raise community awareness of a scam that is becoming more prevalent across the country, Crosby said.

Variations of the kidnapping scam include callers posing as a lawyer or member of law enforcement demanding bail money for a loved one in custody, or a “hitman” scam that claims an anonymous assassin has been contracted to kill the victim unless they pay the caller off, police said. Many of the scams originate outside the country and they employ use false phone numbers that make caller ID unreliable, police said.

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