Michael was called on by ABC National news to provide expert advice on a story about Virtual Kidnapping and Ransom. ABC News has reached out in the past for Michael’s input in regard to industry related topics but as usual most of the interview doesn’t make it to the big screen, this keeps the boss humble.
Since most of the interview wasn’t on television, here is the rest of the advice in how to respond to a ransom request and to determine if it is a hoax:
- The caller will try to pressure and rush you to comply with their demands by using this emotionally charged situation to catch you off balance and make a bad, hasty decision to wire them money right away. Remember that their focus is money so stall for time by negotiating the ransom, start with a low offer.
- Demand to talk to your family member, demand ‘proof of life’ from the kidnapper whether it is to talk to the abducted or put you on face time with them. Demand that you talk to them or there is no ransom to be paid; ignore theatrical sounds of people yelling or screaming in the background. Compliance is key in determining if it is a hoax.
- While on the phone with kidnapper text the abducted or call them from a different phone.
- Have code words set up with family members that are not to be shared with anyone and that no one would be able to guess. If kidnapper will not let you talk to abducted than ask for the code word; if they don’t let you talk to them and they don’t respond with the code word than it is a hoax.
- Kidnapping hoaxes are random acts but often rely on information they are getting from social media so:
- Keep your profile private.
- Add only those “friends” that you know.
- Do not post(check in) when/where you are going, including photos, until you have returned from your trip.
- Be careful of public wifi access, it allows hackers access to your information.
The chances of you experiencing a kidnapping or even a hoax involving kidnapping are remote but it is always best to be prepared for something that most likely won’t happen than the alternative.