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Scam alert issued after Nicholasville resident gets ‘virtual kidnapping’ scare

Attorney General Steve Beshear issued a scam alert last week related to a “virtual kidnapping” incident that was recently reported in Nicholasville.

A “virtual kidnapping” is when a scammer calls a parent from an unknown number and pretends to have their child. The scammer then demands something in return for the child.

“As attorney general, it is my top priority to help protect Kentucky families and children from this type of fraud and exploitation,” Beshear stated in a news release. “As a father of a 6- and 7-year-old, I understand just how terrifying a call like this could be, and I am issuing a scam alert to prevent other parents and loved ones from becoming a victim of this horrifying scam.”

Wilmore resident and house church pastor at Nicholasville United Methodist Church, Shawn Mickschl, was the Nicholasville victim of the scam. 

“This was one of the most horrifying and bizarre experiences I’ve had,” Mickschl said in a Facebook video he posted to make people aware of the scam. 

Mickschl said he received a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize and on the other end, he heard what sounded like a crying terrified child. The child’s voice said, “Daddy, they’ve got me; help Daddy, they’ve got me.” 

“My heart stopped, I started processing through what was going on and I realized this might be my daughter,” Mickschl said. 

Mickschl said his daughter’s name, and inadvertently gave the “kidnapper” something to run with.

A man then came on the phone and told Mickschl he had his daughter. The man demanded money and threatened the life of the child. 

“I started lining up people in my mind that I could ask money from,” Mickschl said. 

Before giving the man what he demanded, Mickschl asked him to say his daughters birth date. The man refused several times. This is the moment he said he began thinking the kidnapping may not be real.

Mickschl said he prayed about the situation and accepted the possibility that it may or may not be real. 

“I know my daughter knows Christ, and I know my daughter is in relationship with our Heavenly Father,” Mickschl said appearing to hold back tears, “And so I settled if this was the end for my daughter then I would meet her again someday, and so I in a calculated risk said to the guy, ‘I don’t believe you have my daughter.’”

Mickshl said he then began praying out loud and asking blessings for the man on the other end of the phone.The man eventually hung up, after cursing at him several times. 

After the call ended, Mickschl drove to his daughter’s school and had a very emotional reunion in the school cafeteria. 

“It all turned out fine,” Mickschl said. 

Now he said he wants to make others aware of the scam. 

“The only thing we can do is make people aware so they don’t have foothold to begin with,” Mickschl said.

Anyone who receives this type of call should also report it to the Office of Attorney General Consumer Protection hotline at 888-432-9257.