Saturday May 25th, 2024 4:09AM

Lawrenceville family targeted in abduction fraud scam

By AccessWDUN Staff

A Lawrenceville family was targeted recently in an abduction fraud scheme, losing several hundred dollars after being led to believe their teen daughter had been abducted.

Officers with Central Precinct met with the father on Feb. 21, after he reported concerns that his 18-year-old daughter had been abducted, according to authorities. The father had received texts that his daughter was in an unknown person’s custody, and they were demanding $15,000 for her safe return.

They originally asked for an initial payment of $440, which the father sent, according to officials.

The 18-year-old was last seen leaving her apartment on Sweetwater Road in unincorporated Lawrenceville at approximately 1:30 p.m. prior to the father receiving the messages.

Gwinnett County Police enlisted the help of the FBI, and the general public was not alerted for the teen’s safety.

Officers and detectives worked over the next two days to follow up on all leads and kept the family updated. The amount of money requested by the “kidnappers” reportedly kept changing.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 23, an undercover officer spotted the teen walking down Sweetwater Road, and she was reunited with her father.

Following the interview with the teen, detectives learned that an unknown person called the teen on the phone, telling her that they were from the Mexican government. They told her that her phone was being used to make death threats to Mexican authorities.

When the victim denied the allegations, the person indicated that her family and herself were now in danger of being targeted further by these “hackers” who were using her phone number to make the threats. Over the next two days, the teen gave the suspect information about her family and her text messaging app login information.

She sent photographs of herself looking sad at the request of the unknown person, according to authorities, as she was informed that her appearance would make her investigation reach a higher priority. The suspects then used the personal information to convince the family of their seriousness and used the photos as “proof of life.”

The suspects later instructed the teen to switch her phone to airplane mode. She left her apartment in fear that the “hackers” would come to her location. She camped out alone at a lake near her apartment, officials said Tuesday.

After two days, with her phone battery at one percent, she exited the woods to find a charger. An undercover officer saw her while walking down the sidewalk on Sweetwater Road.

The suspects involved in this incident are believed to be in Mexico, and their identities are unknown. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta at (404) 577-8477. 

“Deception scams, like the case above, also target employees at businesses,” Sgt. Michele Pihera with the Gwinnett County Police Department said. “Sometimes, an employee working at a store or business will receive a phone call from an unknown person claiming that the employee needs to take or transfer cash to clear an account or audit. Employees believe they are helping the business stay out of trouble by solving the issue themselves. In recent cases, the employees were asked to remove cash from within the store and transfer it into Bitcoin.”

Officials remind the public to never give out any personal or private information about yourself or your family.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Gwinnett County, fraud, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County Police Department, scam
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