COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — After an encounter with scammers preying on a parent’s worst fear, a Colorado mother is sharing her story as a warning.
Two days after receiving a call that now haunts her, a Colorado mother sits down with FOX31 about the scare.
“It’s still really hard to think about the feeling, still, a level of terror exists,” the mother said.
While she asked to remain anonymous in fear of her safety, she wanted to warn other parents who could get the same call from a Denver 720 area code.
Call had child crying, ransom demanded
“It started out with a young child crying hysterically. That an accident had happened, and she needed me to come get her,” the mother said. “She said, ‘I’m sorry mommy.’ Of course, I thought I was my child.”
This mother has an 11-year-old daughter and said the girl on the phone sounded just like her.
Then, a man who she said had a thick Spanish accent, took over the call.
“He told me if I ever wanted to see her again, I would not call any authorities. I would not tell anyone at all what was occurring and just listen to what he had to say,” she said.
For eight minutes, the mother listened to the man who had said he kidnapped her daughter.
He wanted $3,000 and told her to go to the nearest Walmart or Walgreens and give him the location. He said if she needed to go to an ATM first, he would send someone to meet her and that the place had to be public with cameras.
“That’s when some of that rational thinking clicked and I decided to hang up,” she said.
The mother immediately called her daughter’s school to make sure she was there.
“He continued to call me back multiple times while I was on that phone call. I really, I didn’t know whether I should answer. Hang up with the school. Answer him,” she said.
Police could not trace the caller
Once the school confirmed her daughter’s attendance, the mom called 911.
“They had tried to trace the phone call and it was an untraceable number,” she said. “The officer said he believed it to be some kind of prank. I don’t think the word ‘prank’ is an appropriate name for this type of thing.”
Colorado Springs Police said you should immediately hang up and contact your family member directly if you get a call like this. If you can’t call your young child like in this mother’s situation, she called the school where she had previously left her daughter that morning.
“Without that rationale kicking back in, I would have done anything,” she said. “I would have put myself in any level of danger and done exactly what they said. And I think a lot of parents would.”
Tips on how to prevent a virtual kidnapping scam
CSPD provided tips on how to prevent you or a loved one from falling victim to this type of scam.
- Don’t provide the victim’s actual name to the caller. The caller will always say your daughter, son, grandson, etc., and use pronouns because they have no idea of their victim’s child’s actual name.
- Take a deep breath. The more levelheaded you are the easier it is to sniff out the scam.
- Ask to speak to the victim. In most circumstances, they will refuse. Ask them to describe the clothing your loved one was wearing when they left you. They will most likely not be able to answer.
- Hangup. Verify the whereabouts of their loved ones. In the case of the mother, if it occurred during the school day, simply calling the school and verifying she is safe and in class will do.
- Call the family member’s cellphone, work, or wherever they are at to quickly verify if they are OK. The scammers are relying on isolation and scare tactics. They want the transaction to happen quickly.
- Contact the police immediately.
CSPD said the key is to never isolate yourself and to never send over money because this type of scam is all about getting money.