Criminals looking for cash convince mom daughter was kidnapped, about to be killed

LONE TREE, Colo. -- A mother said criminals convinced her that her daughter was kidnapped and about to be killed as part of an elaborate scam to get money from her.

The scam is called virtually kidnapping and criminals are preying on parents' worst nightmare. They have been targeting parents across the country and Pam Pierce was a victim Thursday.

"That's your biggest fear," she said. "Losing your child in such an awful, awful way, like that -- kidnapping."

Pierce received a call around the time her daughter Haley gets out of school.

"I answered the call and I hear what sounded exactly like my daughter, hysterical, crying. 'Mom, mom, mom, I'm scared. Please mom. It's Haley, mom,' Pierce said.

"It sounded exactly like her, and that was the beginning of the end of that seven minutes of terror. That's exactly what it was. Seven minutes of terror."

After the girl on the line screamed and cried, a man got on the phone and told Pierce he would kill her daughter if she didn't pay up.

"He said, 'If you don't shut the [expletive] up, I'm going to blow your daughter's brains out,'" Pierce said.

The man goes on to tell her that her daughter was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and "saw things she shouldn't have seen."

"He said, 'You better calm down. Here's what you're going to do, you're going to leave your house, you're going to get into your car, you're going to go to the bank. And then what you're going to do is meet me in a public place, where it's crowded and we're going to find a place to meet and you may or may not see your daughter,'" Pierce said.

Pierce said in that moment, she and her husband were ready to do anything.

"I would have gone to the bank and emptied every last penny. Every last penny. And today would be a very different day," Pierce said.

Pierce said her friend ultimately saved the situation from taking a bad turn. The friend was at Pierce's home at the time and called her son, who is friends with Haley. Haley was safe and in the neighborhood.

"Haley walked in the door and I just lost it," Pierce said.

Pierce believes the scammers phished for information on social media and were able to find out her daughter's name. Pierce said she's going to be extremely careful online.

"Unfortunately, we are in that space right now in this day in age that we have to be more than careful," Pierce said.

She hopes other parents hear this story and don't fall victim if the criminals call them.

"Everyone needs to be aware of what happened to us (Thursday). I don't want any parent to go through what we went through. Those seven minutes were like seven hours. It was awful," Pierce said.

The scammer told Pierce to not call police. Police say if this happens, call authorities and file a report. The information helps them build a case in hopes of tracking down the suspects.