'It was completely terrifying': Woman details hostage scam

Authorities warn of new scam where caller pretends to hold loved one's ransom

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities are warning people about a terrifying extortion scam that's on the rise.

Investigators told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that callers are demanding ransom, claiming they are holding a loved one hostage.

A Cherokee County woman told Regan about how she was ordered to send MoneyGrams from a Kroger and a Walmart.

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She said at the time she was so afraid, and so rattled by the alleged abductors, she couldn't think rationally.

“I don’t want anyone to experience the complete terror I experienced Monday night,” the woman told Regan, asking not to be identified.

The victim said the whole thing began with a call to her cellphone while she was on the way home from work saying her husband accidently ran over someone leaving a gas station, but didn't want the police involved.

“We are here illegally, Me and my brother have warrants out for our arrest for manslaughter,” the victim said the caller told her. "If you don't follow my instructions, I'm going to kill your husband."


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The caller then ordered her to send $2,700 in money orders to an address in Puerto Rico. The person told her to stay on the phone the whole time and to not contact anyone.

“When I went to my phone to text, I got a message saying, 'Don't touch your phone,’" the victim said. “It all hits you so quickly, and your emotions are going in so many different directions. It was completely terrifying."

Many have fallen prey to the virtual hostage scam. Authorities say extortionists, usually from outside the U.S., find the names and phone numbers of their victims on social media.

The Cherokee County victim told Regan as she was talking to one extortionist, another was calling in on a separate line to keep her phone blocked.

Regan called the number on Thursday, but it no longer worked.

The victim's word of advice for others: “If you get a phone call like that just hang up. Call your loved one and police.”

Police said these cases are nearly impossible to prosecute because the scammers are typically calling from outside the country.