PARK SLOPE — A kidnapping scam in which callers claim they're holding a loved one hostage and demand money to free them struck an employee at New York Methodist Hospital recently, according to a police report.
A 35-year-old woman who works at the hospital received a call on Jan. 28 from a stranger claiming to have kidnapped the woman's best friend and saying the friend would be killed unless the woman wired $1,700 via Western Union.
The hospital employee figured out that her best friend was safe and sound and didn't wire the money, according to the report.
The fake kidnapping call was one of hundreds that New Yorkers have received recently, prompting the FBI and NYPD to issue a warning about the scam.
In some cases, callers have used co-conspirators to convince victims that their friend or family member is in grave danger. Victims have been told that their daughter was kidnapped and then heard a young woman screaming in the background, the FBI said in a January 2015 statement about the scam.
“Most schemes use various techniques to instill a sense of fear, panic, and urgency in an effort to rush the victim into making a very hasty decision,” the FBI said in the statement.
Callers are typically men with Hispanic accents and frequently call from Puerto Rico area codes, according to the FBI. In the case involving the hospital employee, the call was made from an Atlanta area code, according to a police report.
No arrests have been made in the incident involving the hospital employee or in other New York cases, an FBI spokesman said on Thursday.
Other notable recent crimes in the 78th Precinct include the following, with details from police reports:
► A 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the theft of an iPhone 6 on a train at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center stop. The teen and an accomplice snatched the phone from the hands of a woman riding either the 2 or the 3 on Jan. 28 about 5 p.m. The victim used the Find My iPhone app to trace the phone first to Grand Army Plaza, then to Saratoga Avenue. No other arrests were made in the case.
► A thief swiped $3,200 in tools and equipment on Jan. 2 from the construction site for a new parole office opening soon at 15 Second Ave. in Gowanus. The stolen items included an 18-volt DeWalt drill, a box containing strobe lights and smoke detectors, and an Axis security camera. The construction company victimized by the theft did not respond to a request for comment.
► A 38-year-old woman had $500 in cash and other valuables stolen at the Crunch gym on Flatbush Avenue and Sterling Place on Feb. 2 about noon. The victim was in the locker room when she put her valuables on a bench and walked away. When she returned, they were gone. The stolen items also included a MetroCard, a $100 black leather clutch bag, credit cards and house keys. A gym employee declined to comment.
► Several tools and pieces of equipment were stolen from a house under renovation at President Street and Prospect Park West on Jan. 23. The stolen items, worth $5,840 in total, included saws, a grinder, drills, hand tools and a medicine cabinet and faucets.
Recent statistics about major crimes in the 78th Precinct are available on the NYPD's website.