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'Perfect spoof' scam call had family believing daughter was kidnapped

Dec 27, 2017 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Wrier

Predators are going to extreme circumstances to obtain money from local residents, law enforcement officials warned residents last week.

The warning came after one incident in particular, in which scammers pretended to hold a local woman hostage for ransom.

Fremont County undersheriff Ryan Lee said the woman in question had received a phone call Thursday, Dec. 21, that appeared to come from the Fremont County Detention Center.

"(These scammers) have the technology to make it appear the victims are receiving calls from legitimate law enforcement agencies," he explained.

The callers identified themselves as law enforcement and demanded bond payment from the woman. They said the bond stemmed from an arrest warrant that had been issued when she failed to report for jury duty.

"The victim was given instructions to obtain ... money cards to pay the bond, or face being arrested," Lee said.

The callers also got personal information from the victim, including her parents' names and telephone numbers. The scammers then called the victim's parents and told them she had been kidnapped and was being held for a $2,500 ransom.

"(They) began to tell the victim's parents they would kill their daughter, and made numerous threats of injury and death to her," Lee said, adding, "The scammer also played a recording of the victim's voice sounding as if she was in jeopardy."

The scammers were able to make the recording based on the conversations they were having with the victim.

"The parents were horrified. They could not make contact with their daughter. They were going through a tremendous amount of distress," Lee said. "The scammers had set up a perfect spoof that led the parents to believe their daughter was in very serious danger for upwards of 30 minutes."

Three calls

Three people notified the Fremont County Sheriff''s Office about the ongoing scam: the victim, her parents, and her employer.

At about 2:50 p.m. Dec. 21 her employer called dispatch to request a welfare check for the victim, who was missing from work after receiving a "weird phone call for jury duty."

Later, the victim called the Sheriff's office to ask about the faulty warrant.

At about the same time, her parents called to report she had been abducted.

"These predators are out there," Lee said. "They will stop at nothing, and they do not care about causing someone great agony and distress to obtain money by false pretenses. ... They will stop at nothing and in this case caused a very serious, horrific incident for the woman's family."

Lee stressed that law enforcement will not solicit payment over the telephone for any reason, and he advised people who believe they have been targeted to hang up and contact the authorities.

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