Thursday, July 11, 2019

LISTEN: Scammers Threatening To Rape, Murder Daughter; Hitting Valley Hard (OFF-TOPIC)

I do not normally publish this kind of article, but my wife and I hope that sharing this will prevent others from getting scammed or being subjected to the terrifying emotional pitch. Both of us were - separately - attacked by the same would-be scammers on Wednesday.

A recording of the four times they called me are below. (Well, I did not answer the first call, as it came from a foreign number that I did not recognize.)

It starts with a young woman sobbing hysterically and saying "Dad (Mom) I got in an accident". I never before realized that hysterically sobbing young women all sound like they could be one of my kids. Nevertheless, I repeatedly asked "who is this?"

After they get your attention and hook you, the "daughter" says this man is trying to help her, she hands the phone to him. He quickly morphs it into a kidnapping scenario, and the urgent need to bring him some money if you ever want to see your child again.

It all seems like it COULD be real enough, even with doubts. So, you kind of have to stay on the phone in case it IS real.

I kept asking questions and trying to string him along until a friend in the office* could call 911 - 911 had them keep calling my daughter's phone until she finally answered and said she was fine. The scammers must have sensed that development, as they finally gave up.

Little did I know that they promptly dialed my wife's cell phone, and terrorized her for another 15 minutes until the friendly people at Fry's and the Phoenix P.D. officers were able to verify that our other daughter was also safe.

Both 911 dispatchers and police officers confirmed that this is currently sweeping the Valley - they have been getting calls and that some have been successful. In fact, the FBI's Arizona Field Office issued a warning about it in May.

It is not clear whether they are randomly dialing cell phone numbers or if they somehow choose intended victims. There are some indications that point either way.

We want to help publicize this scam not only because we do not want people to give these guys money, but also because we do not want more parents to go through the 15 or more minutes of emotional terror.

Listening to the recording can help prepare you if you answer a similar call. Keep calm, keep them on the phone while you (or, someone near you) try to contact your (real) child and/or 911. Ask to speak to your supposed child and ask questions that only she would know the answer to. (See the FBI warning for other pieces of advice.)

Here are the recordings. There are graphic references and explicit language.

*That friend, Leila, wrote a very good article on this incident. You should read it once you finish this one.

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