It can be difficult to imagine the sort of person who would take advantage of a family in their time of need. What sort of person would attempt to make a quick buck exploiting vulnerable people when they are in crisis? Unfortunately, It’s not unheard of when it comes to missing person cases. Desperate families fall victim to missing person scams perpetrated by criminals looking to make a quick buck. Families of missing persons must be vigilant of those who would help them search for their loved one for a price.  

Vickie Metcalf was like many mothers with missing children when her daughter Alissa went missing 2015—desperate for answers. Unfortunately, she would also fall victim to one of many missing person scams. Alissa Freeman went missing on her 18th birthday when she disappeared while taking out the trash. At the time, Alissa was listed as an endangered missing person as investigators believed her to be in immediate danger. It wasn’t long after Alissa disappeared that VIckie received a Facebook message from a woman who claimed to have seen a woman matching her daughter’s description working as a sexworker in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fears exacerbated with the possibility of her daughter being trafficked, Vickie was willing to entertain the woman’s plan of buying Alissa from the traffickers for the total price of $70,000. However, this claim turned out to be false when the FBI was able to determine that the IP address associated with the messages was traced back to a Russian extortion ring with scores of Facebook accounts created for scamming the victims.  

It’s also common for missing person scams to be carried out through the United States Postal Service. Through the U.S. mail, there was a scam perpetrated by an individual who claimed to run a “recovery bureau” who claimed to find missing persons and reunite them with their loved ones. A California man became the victim of the so-called recovery bureau when they contacted him claiming that they could locate his former wife and children. When the man traveled to Michigan to meet with a representative of the recovery bureau, his suspicions were aroused when he was prompted to hand over $20,000 before any information was given about his missing family. Postal Inspectors were able to conclude that the ex-wife and children had never been in Michigan, and the representative had no information on their whereabouts.  

No matter what the circumstances, missing person scams can be devastating to families in trying times. Unsolicited offers from third-parties to help find missing loved ones should always be met with a healthy level of scrutiny. When these parties make promises of finding loved ones for a price, families should report this behavior to the authorities to verify their information and legitimacy. Families of missing persons hoping to launch an independent investigation should only seek the assistance of a licensed missing person investigator.  

If you need help finding a missing person, contact Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on how we can help you find answers in the case of your missing loved one. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at