Police investigation launched after five Redbridge families threatened with kidnap

Police are warning residents to report any letters they receive. Picture: Archant

Police are warning residents to report any letters they receive. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Police are investigating after five Chigwell families have been threatened with kidnap if they do not pay a ransom.

Handwritten letters are being posted via Royal Mail and state that the person receiving the letter or their wider family will be targeted.

A five-figure sum is demanded in order to prevent a “kidnap” from taking place.

The letter also states that this amount will rise to a six-figure sum, should there be a delay in payment.

The correspondences – which Essex Police are calling a scam- were reported by five residents in Chigwell, one in Loughton and another in Buckhurst Hill, between October 15 and October 30.

The letters also give instructions to create a Gumtree post or send a response to a mobile phone number.

Det Con Clive Singer at Loughton CID said he wants to reassure people that these correspondences are part of a scam.

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He is warning residents who receive such notes to report them to the police and not handle them too much.

This will enable officers to extract as much DNA or clues from the letter as possible.

“These letters are generic, however, to receive something like this through the post is very unpleasant, and ultimately, the objective is to steal money from innocent people,” he said.

“We want to reassure residents that this is a scam and that there is no cause for concern in relation to the personal safety of residents.

“The letters are not targeted and there is nothing to suggest that the sender has any personal information.

“Rest assured that we are investigating this scam thoroughly, and would ask that if people receive a similar letter, that they avoid handling it to preserve forensic opportunities.”

Royal Mail have been contacted for comment.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Essex Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.