Imagine getting a frightening phone call saying that your child has been kidnapped, only to realize it was all a scam.
That's exactly what happened to a mother in Leesburg, Virginia, last October. When Wendy Mueller received a call on her cell from Mexico, she didn't think much of it. She'd recently hired a landscaper from Mexico and assumed it was him. Upon answering, however, she heard a female voice claiming to be her daughter -- she was screaming that she'd been kidnapped.
Mueller was relaxing in her kitchen when she received the call and immediately began to panic. On the other end, a girl said, "Mom, I'm scared. I don't know where I am." Then, the phone was handed over to the alleged kidnapper.
The man gave specific instructions: "He demanded that I keep the phone on speaker the entire time, that I was never to speak to him when I was in the bank or anywhere else, that I was to put my phone right inside my purse when I went into the bank or anywhere else and that way he could hear exactly what was going on. If he heard anything that sounded like I was asking for help, then he would kill my daughter.”
For the next six hours, Mueller drove around Northern Virginia searching for stores that would wire-transfer money to Mexico. Mueller offered the man $10,000 and began sending the money in increments of $2,000 per his instructions. But MoneyGram, the money transfer company handling the transactions, noticed something odd, and around the same time, Mueller got a text from her daughter.
Mueller quickly texted back and asked if she was okay. The girl responded, "Yeah, why?" The petrifying ordeal had been nothing more than a scam.