Once seen as a low-tech scam run by jailed Mexican cartel members using social engineering techniques to cold-call victims, virtual kidnappings have become more widespread over the past few years. What’s more, as bogus abductions also become more convincing thanks to innovations such as deepfake technology, analysts believe this insidious breed of threat actor could soon be hunting bigger game.
“I left work to go and pick up my daughter. On the road, I received a phone call from a local number. I answered to a woman, hysterical and in panic, crying. A man took the phone and told me that my fiancée was in the back of his truck, kidnapped. He was a drug dealer, and she was witness to his drug deal. He tells me that he wants to give me a chance to help her. With the screams of a woman in the background, I tell him I’ll do whatever it takes. He tells me he lost $10K in the deal she intervened in, and he needs compensation. I’m not to hang up, text, or call anyone. No cops or she’s dead.”