Fake kidnapping for ransom targets dozens in SoCal

- Valerie Sobel will never forget getting a phone call and hearing her daughter was kidnapped.

"They said we have your daughter Simone's finger do you want the rest of her in a body bag?," says Sobel.

She believes she heard her daughter screaming for help. She panicked and followed the callers instructions, driving around to various stores and banks to wire a total of $4,000 to the alleged kidnappers. But they never had her daughter. She was the victim of a virtual kidnapping scam that's on the rise here in Los Angeles.

"In many cases these calls are concentrated on a certain area code, like robot calling," says LAPD Captain William Hayes.

The LAPD is working with the FBI as well as the IRS to root out these scammers, many of whom operate out of Mexico.

"You can imagine the emotional peril when they get that call," says Damon Rowe special agent for IRS Criminal Investigation. "They pray on that vulnerability."

If you get a call like this law enforcement advises hanging up immediately, calling that loved one yourself and then calling law enforcement.

If you have any information about a scam like this, call the FBI at 310-477-6565.

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