Imagine getting a frightening phone call saying that your child has been kidnapped, only to realize it was all a scam.
That’s exactly what happened to a mother in Leesburg, Virginia, last October. When Wendy Mueller received a call on her cell from Mexico, she didn’t think much of it. She’d recently hired a landscaper from Mexico and assumed it was him. Upon answering, however, she heard a female voice claiming to be her daughter — she was screaming that she’d been kidnapped.
Mueller was relaxing in her kitchen when she received the call and immediately began to panic. On the other end, a girl said, “Mom, I’m scared. I don’t know where I am.” Then, the phone was handed over to the alleged kidnapper.
The man gave specific instructions: “He demanded that I keep the phone on speaker the entire time, that I was never to speak to him when I was in the bank or anywhere else, that I was to put my phone right inside my purse when I went into the bank or anywhere else and that way he could hear exactly what was going on. If he heard anything that sounded like I was asking for help, then he would kill my daughter.”
For the next six hours, Mueller drove around Northern Virginia searching for stores that would wire-transfer money to Mexico. Mueller offered the man $10,000 and began sending the money in increments of $2,000 per his instructions. But MoneyGram, the money transfer company handling the transactions, noticed something odd, and around the same time, Mueller got a text from her daughter.
Mueller quickly texted back and asked if she was okay. The girl responded, “Yeah, why?” The petrifying ordeal had been nothing more than a scam.
Sadly, Mueller isn’t the only one that’s fallen prey to a scam phone call or instant message claiming that a relative has been kidnapped. In the past two months, individuals from California, Virginia, Texas, and Arizona have received calls from “kidnappers” asking for ransom money. Because the calls are from Mexico, it’s been difficult for authorities to investigate and make any arrests.
To learn more, listen as this young woman, also from Virginia, describes how she was nearly scammed by someone claiming that her father had been kidnapped.
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