Lawrence Police wants to warn the public to be aware of a phone scam targeting unsuspecting individuals that their loved ones are kidnapped and being held for ransom. Such calls, known as virtual kidnapping scams, have been occurring across the Merrimack Valley area in recent days.
Scammers steal money by demanding a ransom, telling the victim that their family member will be injured or killed if the payment is not wired immediately. In some cases, the scammers will have someone screaming in the background to make the call sound more authentic. This scam has been around for a few years but it appears it is becoming popular again.
To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators.
- Incoming calls that come from an outside area code, be particularly aware of area codes 787 and 939.
- Calls not coming from the “kidnap” victim’s phone.
- Callers who go to great lengths to keep you on the phone.
- Callers who prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnap” victim.
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service.
If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped you should:
- Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is OK?”
- If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
- Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnap victim if they speak.
- Attempt to call, text, or contact the victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his cellphone.
- While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
- To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell him you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
- Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
- Request that the victim call back from his cellphone.
Shopping patterns have changed over the years and criminals have adapted.
While many people will be partaking in Cyber Monday, the hassle-free alternative to getting trampled on Black Friday, they need to proceed with caution. In recent years, Lawrence Police have noticed an uptick in package thefts following Cyber Monday shopping.
– If possible, ship your packages to your work location or a location where you know someone will be there to receive the package such as the home of a friend or loved one who you know is home during the day.
– Request that a signature be required to deliver the package.
– Track your packages and ask a family member, friend or neighbor to look out and take the packages in when they arrive.
– If you live at a location that requires passcode or keycard entry, do not let people you do not know tag-a-long behind you and enter the property. If they are aggressive, do not confront them, call police immediately and provide a detailed description of the person, what they are wearing and where they were last seen.
– If you observe people you do not recognize on a neighbor’s property, pay attention and if it appears they are removing packages, call police immediately and provide the same descriptive information and also watch to see if the person goes back to a vehicle and provide a description of the vehicle and their direction of travel.
– Keep an eye out in your neighborhood for vehicles that appear to be following delivery trucks and stopping at locations where the delivery trucks just made a delivery.
– UPS offers an option to schedule your deliveries and receive an alert by voice, email or text message notifying you the day before your package will be delivered. You can then reroute or reschedule the delivery if you need to do so. Go to http://www.ups.com/mychoice/ to check out this option.
– Another option is to have the package rerouted to a UPS Store. The store will hold the package until the consumer can go and pick it up. Consumers can always change the delivery address on UPS.com or by calling 1-800-PICK-UPS. Consumers can also request “signature required service” and UPS drivers will not deliver the package until someone signs for it.
– If you are using a different shipping company, find out what options are available for a more secure delivery. Monitor and inventory your deliveries and don’t assume your packages were sent in separate shipments. In two of the three recent cases, some packages were stolen while some were left behind.
During the cold winter months, area drivers may be tempted to warm up their cars while they stay warm inside. But cars left running, unlocked, and unattended are quick and easy targets for thieves. NCPC offers the following tips so you won’t be left out in the cold:
Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when are away from it, even for “just a minute.”
• Keep valuables out of sight or in the trunk. Purses, credit cards, and cell phones in plain view only help attract thieves.
• Always roll up the windows and lock your car, even if it is in your driveway, garage, or in front of your home.
• Never leave the registration or title in your car. If stolen, it makes it easier for the thief to dispose of your vehicle. It can also make you a target for identity theft.
• Be alert when approaching your car, have a plan of action, and have your keys in your hand. Check around, under and in your vehicle for suspicious individuals. Immediately leave the scene to get help if you have any concerns for your safety.
• Only park your car in busy, well-lighted areas.
• Install a mechanical locking device—commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars—that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.
• If your vehicle has an alarm or other anti-theft device, use it.
The City of Lawrence is looking to hire crossing guards for the Frost and Parthum schools. Interested applicants can submit a completed application to the City’s Personnel Department on the third floor of City Hall. You can access the application at
Probation Department Telephone Scam
An individual is contacting the public claiming that he is the Chief Probation Officer from the Lawrence District Court. The caller then states that there is a warrant for the victim and they must report to court. The victim then must pay $80.00 with a prepaid PayPal card.
THIS IS A SCAM. Anyone receiving such a call can contact the Police Department with any pertinent information.
Lawrence police Prisoner property
Lawrence Police has unclaimed prisoner property and will be contacting said property owners.
According to Mass General Law Chapter 135 section 8 unclaimed properties in possession of the Police Department.
Section 8. If such property remains unclaimed in the possession of such police department or member thereof for one month and the owner thereof or his place of abode or business is unknown, or if the owner and his place of abode or business are known and the owner, after receipt by registered mail of a written notice from such department or member to take possession of said property, refuses or fails for a period of ten days following said receipt so to do, such department may sell the same, excepting money unclaimed, by public auction or any other licensed auction service, including sale over the Internet, notice of the time and place of sale, with a description of the property to be sold, first being given by publishing the same once in each of three successive weeks in a newspaper published in such city. Any violation of the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars and by forfeiture of any such property obtained as a result of such violation.