Manassas police warn residents about a rebranded virtual scam


"If they ask you to wire money or send money over via gift card, that is always a sign of a scam."

MANASSAS, Va. (WDVM) — A popular scam has now rebranded itself, but virtually. The Manassas City Police Department is warning residents to not fall victim.

The Grandkids scam, now known as the “Virtual Kidnapping” scam will demand money for bail or medical bills.

Sarah Maroney, PIO, Manassas City Police Department said, “In these scams, a scammer will target a resident and claim that a loved one or grandchild is in the hospital or jail and some kind of payment needs to made either for a medical bill or bail.”

Maroney said unfortunately residents have fallen for the scam, due to the increase of people being online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this can happen to anyone, officials said elderly people are more so the target for it.

“If they ask you to wire money or send money over via gift card that is always a sign of a scam. Legitimate people in businesses will never ask for money to be wired or through gift cards” said Maroney.

Bitcoin, Snapchat, and other social media platforms are some ways scammers ask you to send money. Officials said the twist to this scam is, they claim to have kidnapped a family member overseas and demand you to send money for their release.

“People overseas claim to be members of a cartel or a gang and target people in the United States claiming that they have a relative of theirs held hostage and it can be very shocking and alarming, because they’ll submit graphic photos that you just typically take off the internet” said Maroney.

Officials urge residents to be extra cautious with a second round of stimulus checks on the way, and to call law enforcement immediately if you feel you’re in danger.


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