It’s a bizarre twist in the case of a missing Mobile County 12-year-old. Ian Clark was found safe Tuesday, but his family tells NBC 15 News, scammers tried to extort money from them while he was missing. Horrifying texts they received said he was being held hostage. NBC 15’s Andrea Ramey spoke with them about the gut-wrenching con.
Ian Clark went missing along with his grandmother’s SUV on Saturday. The family quickly enlisted the help of social media to help find him, posting pictures and a cell number to call. To date, the post has been shared more than 3,000 times.
“When you have cases that heavily involve social media posts, the entire world sees it,” said MPD Cyber Intelligence Commander Kevin Levy.
And in this case, it appears someone halfway around the globe saw this missing person’s case as a chance to cash in, texting that number publicly shared in the Facebook post and demanding ransom. Ian’s mother tells us she received threatening texts in the middle of the night Monday that her son was being held hostage. She says investigators told her the scammers were from Africa.
“You have to remember when you go out to the world wide web to get attention,” said Levy. “So you’re advertising to thousands if not millions of people.”
Levy wouldn’t get into the details about this case but confirms they’re investigating and says it should serve as a cautionary tale.
“It causes some unusual interest from people who have other means such as financial gain, extortion,” said Levy. “It’s taxing on law enforcement. It’s concerning to the parents and it’s sort of a distraction in the case.”
Mobile Police not releasing many details about the case, only that Ian is safe. Police say Ian, along with his grandmother’s SUV were found in Escambia County, Florida Tuesday.