February 28, 2020
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Kidnapping scammer targets another Maine parent

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A midcoast man received a phone call on Monday from someone claiming to have kidnapped his child and demanding money, the second time such an incident has been reported in the area within 10 days.

Aaron Gilbert was at home late Monday morning when the phone rang. He heard a child crying in the background, and then a man on the other end identified Gibert by name and told him, “I have your daughter kidnapped in my van,” Gilbert said Monday afternoon.

Gilbert knew his three children were in school, although he said the oldest child had complained of being tired and at first he wondered if the call was coming from the school nurse.

But a friend of Gibert’s wife, who was at the home, had read about an incident earlier this month in which a Bath Iron Works employee received a similar phone call while at work. In that case, the employee was frantic after receiving the call and alerted police, who eventually sent an officer to the family’s home to confirm the child was safe.

Gilbert said he asked the caller to give him the child’s first name or say where he had picked the child up, but the caller was unable to do either. Instead, he asked Gibert, “How much money can you get me in the next half an hour?”

Gilbert called 911 on another phone and attempted to let dispatchers listen to the call. Eventually, he just hung up and called the children’s schools to confirm they, like the child in the previous case, were safe.

Bath police Lt. Robert Savary alerted residents to the phone number the call came from, 52 656-322-5469, and said the same number had been used in similar scams throughout the country.

Police forwarded the number to the Maine Computer Crimes Unit, but Savary said, “There’s essentially nobody we can arrest. There’s nothing we can do except get this information out to the public and caution them that this is going on and please, don’t wire your money. Just hang up.”

On Monday afternoon, Gilbert said he wanted to spread the word about the scam so that other parents might not panic if they receive such a phone call.

“The thought crosses your mind, ‘What if someone’s cruising around Brunswick targeting our kids?’” he said. “It’s scary to get that kind of a call.”

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