He says the scammers sounded very real.
Frederick, Md (KM). The kidnapping scam is making its way around Frederick, according to local police. Authorities say an individual calls a victim, and tell he or she that a spouse, parent or child struck another person with their car, causing serious injuries. The scammers say they are holding a family member hostage until they receive money to pay for hospital bills. If no money is received, the family member will be killed.
One Frederick man, who asked WFMD News not to release his name and use the pseudonym “Matthew,” said he was the victim of this type of scam. He says he had come home for lunch and was heading back to his office to resume work when he received a call. It was a Frederick number so he answered. Matthew was told by two men that his mother was in a car crash and was seriously injured. He thought they were good Samaritans, and got into his car to head to the hospital.
While en route, Matthew was contacted again and told that his mother had struck their nephew with her car, and the relative was in need of medical care. He was told his mother was being held hostage until he provided the money. If the money didn’t come, his mother would be killed.
Matthew said the scammers sounded convincing. “When you answer the phone and you’re not expecting that sort of situation, immediately you get worked up and get emotional when it’s somebody that you love and care about. You’re not sure if they’re going to make it in a split second you’re in that mindset. So it’s intense, definitely,” he said. He also said they managed to get his mother’s cell phone number through “spoofing” and called him from that number.
He was told to wire $1300, and get the money from a Wal Mart store in Frederick.
Matthew says he went to several Wal Marts with his phone still connected with the scammers. He says he wired the scammers $1300 .
In one instance, a store employee noticed that Matthew was nervous and his request to wire funds was denied. The scammers cut off all contact, he says.
Matthew also found out that his mother was contacted by the same scammers, who said her son was being held hostage. She was told to send them money or her son would be killed. Fortunately, for his mother, she didn’t send them any money.
Later, they both found out that the “kidnappers” were scammers looking for money.
Matthew says they preyed upon his emotions that he has for his mother, which shut off any idea that this could be a scam. He said the scammers didn’t ask for credit card or Social Security numbers, as is common for some scams. “I think when you don’t get asked certain questions that might trigger that, and instead are taking very quickly to a mom that’s screaming in fear, it sounds very real and I think it’s easy for anyone to get sucked in if they catch you at the right time or the right time of the day,” says Matthew.
While he was on the phone with the scammers, Matthew says he heard screams that sounded like they were coming from his mother who was being held captive. But he believes they were recorded somehow by the scammers.
He says this proves that anyone, no matter how smart they believe they are, can get taken by a scam. “I’d like to think that my mom and I are pretty intelligent people. But we got sucked in and we were just the right people at the right time. We’re trusting people by nature and when they make you feel that it’s real, you don’t want to assume that it’s not and don’t want to make any wrong moves because it feels like a life or death situation,” says Matthew.
He says he will try to be more careful in the future. “If there were ever a scenario to come up where it was one of my loved ones or someone I know was in danger based on what I was hearing, I think I’d hang up and call them directly,” says Matthew.
Police remind residents who receive such calls to hang up, and call their relative or friend to see if they’re safe. Authorities also say you should report this incident to local law enforcement, providing as many details as possible.
By Kevin McManus