FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — It’s a scam that seems to be more and more common, and it’s terrifying.
Over the past few months Channel 2's Justin Wilfon interviewed several victims of the scam. Here's how it works: The scammer pretends he or she has kidnapped one of your loved ones and wants money to get them back.
"It was terrifying. We panicked," said a victim named Shelli, who asked to be referred to by only her first name. “He said, 'I have your sister.'”
The apparent kidnapper seemed to be in a rage, screaming and cussing.
“He kept saying, 'Shelli, I’m going to kill your sister.'"
We met with Shelli at her home in Cumming. She said her sister was actually staying with her that night, so she rushed to her bedroom and was relieved to see she was OK.
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“I kept saying, 'Karen, do you recognize this voice?' Then it got dead silenct, and he hung up," she said.
It was at that moment she realized it was all a scam – a fake kidnapping call – made much more believeable because it came from her sister’s number.
“We saw she was holding her phone in her hand, then we were all very confused," Shelli said.
Police have told the victims that the scammers are using some kind of phone cloning technology, allowing the scammers to replicate their loved ones numbers.
Wilfon interviewed two other victims across metro Atlanta over the past few months. In those cases, the scammers eventually asked for money in exchange for turning over the supposed kidnapping victim.
Shelli’s caller hung up before asking for cash, but not before scaring her family.
“We waited for the police upstairs, We didn’t even want to come downstairs," Shelli said.
These scammers are very difficult, if not impossible, for police to find.
Be careful about information you put on social media. Police told Shelli that’s likely where the scammer gathered information about her and her family.
Cox Media Group