Posted on July 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Monday, Jul 16 at 5:26 PM
AUSTIN --- Campus police at the University of Texas in Austin are sending out an alert to parents of U.T. students about anonymous phone calls claiming to have kidnapped their son or daughter.
Sgt. Charles Bonnet of UTPD said that he doesn’t believe UT parents are being targeted because in the past month and a half officers have only heard from two different parents.
In each of the two cases, a person with an accent has called demanding a small amount of money be transferred into an out of the country bank account.
“In one case it was a thousand dollars so the kind of amount where if you were a parent and you were scared and for whatever reason you couldn't get a hold of your son or daughter right away, that's the kind of money somebody might be able to put their hands on quickly without necessarily going to get a loan,” said Bonnet.
Neither Detectives nor representatives with Texas Parents know where or how the callers are getting the telephone numbers of UT parents, however UT police are hoping that any other parents getting the calls will take good notes and ask good questions.
“Any information that they can get from the callers as far as where the money should go? Asking questions "well how do I know you have my son or daughter?" any sort of information that they can get and provide to law enforcement even if they think is trivial at the time may end up helping us put this case together,” added Bonnet.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations are assisting UTPD. in the investigation.
The university's police department is asking people to follow these tips if they receive such a call:
- Remain calm and try to locate your family member. Remember, the vast majority of these calls are a hoax. Whether done as a prank or an attempt to extort money, these individuals are trying to exploit your fears. If you have caller ID, write down the number.
- Do not tell the caller where you live or agree to any money transfer. Never provide information about you or your family (including the name of the individual they say has been kidnapped, injured, etc.).
- Ask to speak to your family member to confirm his/her identity. This foils the majority of these calls as the virtual kidnapper only has the upper hand as long as you believe that he/she really has your loved one. Don't be afraid to challenge them, "What is my child's name?"
- If the caller cannot or will not answer, hang up (many will hang up at the first sign of stubbornness).