Millions of Android and iPhone owners have been warned of costly messages to ignore

EXPERTS have warned the public to watch out for a scary phone hijacking scam designed to scare you.

The worrying new scheme begins with what appears to be a call from a relative, whose number appears on the screen of your iPhone or Android device.

An alarming phone call is not what it seems


An alarming phone call is not what it seemsCredit: Alamy

You’ll be quickly cut off by a blackmailer who claims to be holding your loved one hostage and threatens them.

The criminals say that the only way to bring your family member back safely is to pay ransom.

It is a shocking situation that would make anyone jump into action.

But it’s actually all a terrifying scam, as revealed by MalwareBytes.

Some people have commented on receiving such a call on TikTok.

user city ​​lifesouthgirl said she got one in which she heard her mother’s voice “fade away”.

The crook quickly takes over and demands money.

Some even create screaming noises in the background to add urgency and panic.

“Everything is designed to convince the victim to hand over a large sum of cash in the shortest possible time,” MalwareBytes warns.

They usually want you to send money through digital wallets like Venmo or CashApp where they can hide their tracks.

However, the voices you think you heard from a distressed relative are not them at all.

What you heard was almost certainly just a recording of a generic voice being intentionally blanked out and taken over by the crook on the other end.

In the heat of battle, you believe that brief chant or cry belonged to your loved one.

A telltale sign is that the person who appears to be at risk never stays on the line or engages in a conversation.

Tricks similar to these have actually been around for years and are known as virtual kidnapping scams.

In the latest twist, scammers scour social media and other websites to get family members’ names and phone numbers.

They then use a special technique to make a relative’s name appear on your phone instead of the real number.

In the case of Citylivingsoutherngirl, the person demanded $1,000.

When she said she only had $100, the scammer hung up.

She immediately called her mother’s number in a panic to find that she was fine the whole time.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of virtual kidnapping

Scammers rely on the wealth of information people post on their Instagram, Facebook, and other social media accounts.

It’s a good idea to ban your profile or delete anything that reveals too much about places, names, and especially phone numbers.

You should not post anything with travel dates and locations as this can be used to add false legitimacy to a scammer’s phone call.

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You could even have a family member password that you can use to confirm someone is actually in serious danger, MalwareBytes recommends.

The best tips and hacks for phones and gadgets


Looking for tips and hacks for your phone? Want to find these secret features in social media apps? We’ve got you covered…

Get the latest news about WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and other tech gadgets here.

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Fry Electronics Team

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