Earlier this week Hong Kong’s secretary for security reported a 17% increase in the number of deception cases handled so far this year. Most of these cases were phone scams and fake kidnapping claims.  Fake kidnapping is facilitated by the offender calling a mother, claiming that her son has been kidnapped and then demanding ransom.  As the Healthy Travel Blog reported last year, this “virtual kidnapping” is not an uncommon practice and can be even more disturbing and complicated when the “victim” is traveling overseas.  Consider adopting these practices when traveling abroad to avoid becoming one of the victims of virtual kidnapping:        

  • Register with the State Department prior to travel
  • Verify cell phone reception at all proposed locations on the itinerary
  • Do NOT turn off a cell phone at any time- claims that a phone must be disconnected for servicing are universally false
  • Do NOT share any information about an upcoming trip on line
  • Maintain regular contact with family and loved ones back home 
  • Establish a code word to be used to verify any kidnapping claims
  • Never travel alone, particularly in Latin America, Africa and the mid East where both real and virtual kidnappings are epidemic 

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