SACHSE (CBS11) – Don Ferguson of Sachse, got the call every parent dreads, telling him his son was hurt and in danger.
It was all a scam, but a convincing one.
“My heart was just racing. I don’t think my adrenaline has ever been that high,” he said.
What he didn’t know was that his 16-year-old, Reilly received a call first and unknowingly provided information that was used against him.
“I was in class and I just froze,” said Reilly.
The man on the other end told her he was a paramedic.
“They had a young male who was in a fatal accident and could not be identified,” she remembered him saying.
She thought of her brother, who’d just left town that morning.
She gave the man his name, described him and told him what car he drove.
She provided her father’s name and number, too.
“He was like, Sorry, it’s not the guy that was in the accident and he hung up,” she said.
The man immediately dialed Don Ferguson to say his son was seriously injured in a crash.
This time, though, the caller claimed, he had taken the teen hostage and wanted money.
“He told me if I dropped this call he was going to kill my son,” he said.
To Ferguson, it didn’t make sense.
The caller, though, seemed to know so much about his family.
“The panic took over,” he said.
He tried calling his son from his desk phone.
“I can barely even dial it. In fact, I have to hang up and start over, several times, and then when I hear his voice…” he said, exhaling in relief. “It’s just a horrible way to scam somebody.”
The FBI warns the scam, called a virtual kidnapping, has become increasingly common.
It’s tough to make arrests.
The callers often use prepaid phones and may even be calling from outside the United States.
“Apparently nobody can track these people down. I don’t even know if anybody’s trying. I think somebody needs to try,” said Ferguson.