Ransom Call Alert
The other day I was in my car with my son when my phone rang. It showed a call coming in from Mexico, which as odd as I don’t know anyone who lives in Mexico, or was there in holiday. I didn’t answer the phone figuring if it was a call for me, they would leave a message. A minute later the phone rang again from the same number, so I answered it. On the other line was a woman who was crying. I was confused at first and simply said hello. The woman was whimpering, and asking me to help her. I put the call on speaker so my son could hear and I asked what to do.
He was also confused and we were unclear what was happening. I said hello and asked who it was, then a man got on the phone and told me if I hung up, or contacted the police, he was going to shoot the woman in the head. My heart was now racing and I was scared. I muted the call and asked my son what was happening. We were in a bit of a panic and I didn’t want to do the wrong thing. The man was screaming at me to talk to him and with a shaking hand I accidently disconnected instead of unmuting. I started to cry and the phone immediately rang again.
The man was now screaming profanities, telling me he was going to kill the woman, and if I thought he was kidding, he would kill me too because he knew where I lived. He told me I needed to give him all the money I had access to or she would die. It was terrifying, and too unbelievable for me to comprehend. I told him I didn’t understand and he told me where to meet him. I was to go to the bank, get money, then trade the money for the woman, who he said I knew. In a moment of sheer panic, I drove to the police station. We had been on the phone for 15 minutes at the point, and it was torturous.
When we got to the police station, my son ran in to get help and I kept the man on the phone, telling him I was going to get him the money. The police officer came out and listened in on the conversation. I muted the call and she told me to hang up. I stared at her in disbelief, telling her the woman would be killed. She looked me in the eye and told me to hang up. I did. She explained that it was a hoax, there was no woman in trouble, and it was a scam that happens many times each day. People were giving money left and right, getting duped by these callers.
She said he would call back and when he did, I was to say I would not give him any money unless I could speak to the woman. He called, I asked to speak to the woman, and he put her on. The woman was pleading for help and the police officer put the call on mute, asking me to listen carefully to the voice because the man demanding the money was the same person pretending to be the woman in trouble. I listened and it was suddenly clear they were the same person. I started to cry again, this time with relief that no one was about to be shot. I almost fainted.
The officer disconnected the call and told me they would call back three or four more times, and I was not to answer it. The first call came in. The officer explained that these people do this and are making a lot of money from innocent people who think they are doing the right thing. People have emptied out their bank accounts to save people, never to see their money again. She said it was good we came to the police and to not worry about the call. Nobody was watching us, or following us, or going to come to our home. We were not in any danger.
It was a shocking and exhausting experience and I share it here as a cautionary tale. Be very careful. It is fascinating what people will do for money. This is an evil scam but as we all know, the world is dark and scary and this happens in real life, to real people, with real consequences all the time. If you get a similar call, try to remain calm, go to the police, and get help. Easier said than done in the moment, but try. I am grateful to my son for being a pillar of strength, and for the LAPD for helping us. We are shaken, but keeping the faith.