Police warn residents of kidnapping scam in Wilmington

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Police warn residents of kidnapping scam in Wilmington. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on April 5, 2018. (WPVI)

For several hours, a Delaware father believed the worst: that his adult son was being held for ransom by people willing to harm him.

It turned out to be a scam, and it's one that's been happening a lot lately in one community.

"If I don't get what I want, I'm going to kill them," said Al Ament, referring to what the kidnapper said to him.

Ament is a retired Pennsylvania state police trooper and later a prominent lawyer.

Two Fridays ago he got a call from a Delaware 302 number telling him his son and a friend were being held for ransom.

The price: $40,000. When Ament, who negotiated with hostage takers in his police days demanded proof of life, he got this.

"He put a person on the phone who sounded exactly like my son. I can't make this stuff up. The only thing this person was crying," Ament said.

The voice on the phone told Ament how to send the money.

He said, "I want money. I just want money," Ament said.

Ament said he eventually got the scammer to accept $4,000 as ransom and he warned him.

"I've dealt with people like you in the past. I don't know if this is for real or this is not for real. I want to tell you this, if you harm any more hairs on my son's head, I will hunt you down."

Ament's adult son works out of the military's central command in Florida. No personal cell phones are allowed inside. It took Tampa police and the military police more than two hours to get to the son in a top security zone. Fortunately, he was okay.

And since Ament's chilling story was publicized, he has received phone calls from more than a dozen people telling him they have experienced the same scam.

At least four admit they paid the ransom. State police say there has been a spike in virtual kidnapping scram calls, especially in New Castle County and they are publishing warnings on how to respond if you get the phone call

"I gotta believe this is more than just one on one. This is organized," Ament said.

Ament is set to meet with those here in Delaware who have recently been the targets of this same scam, hoping he can create an organization to boost public awareness and help law enforcement bring these criminals down.

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