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In Indonesia, a particular scam is calling people (esp. parents) very early in the morning, when people are still sleeping, "We're cops. Your son/daughter is arrested for drugs possession. Send us lots of money NOW or we'll send him/her to jail." followed by what sounds like someone crying in the background.

Since you're barely awake, and your son/daughter is indeed away (eg. on night shift or staying with friends), and the fact that some cops are corrupt, and somehow you can't call (busy line) your son/daughter to verify, make people fall prey to this scam.

The interesting part is: how do they know the relationship of the victims, and the location (i.e away from home) at that point in time, considering the scammers are sometimes from different island?

" how do they know the relationship of the victims"

Probably they don't. If the victim says "but I don't have a son" they just hang-up. Scattershot approach, not targeted.

or start with "your child has been arrested" when they say "what Mary Lou?" you respond with "yes we have your daughter".

At which point you can relax, because you have a boy called Josh.

If you have enough on the ball to do something like that, instead of operating on pure emotion, you're not going to fall for a lot of these scams anyway.

In Sweden there are lots of websites where you can look up the phone number and retrieve the address of that person, as well as other people living at the same address. From this information it is rather easy to do reverse lookups and figure out the potential relationships.

People often post about their families on Facebook. Then the scammers look into the profiles of those family members and look for someone who recently left on a vacation trip or something.

Why would they need to know? The could just call people (of a suitable age? I don't know if Indonesia has an accessibly census + phone database) and hope for a hit.

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