Woman pays $1,400 in fake kidnapping scam, men threaten to kill mom

California

An investigation is underway into a fake kidnapping scam in Southern California.

It was so convincing, that one woman paid $1,400 to a caller.

He claimed to have kidnapped her mother and seemed to have proof to back it up.

From the beginning, it sounded like a ransom call.

“It was a man’s voice telling me that he had abducted my mother and that he was going to kill her if I didn’t do exactly as he told me,” victim Lauren Kennedy said. “I quickly told him, ‘I’ll do whatever you want me to do.'”

Kennedy says the supposed kidnappers called from her mother’s phone number.

“It was everybody’s worst nightmare,” Kennedy said.

A nightmare that became all too real when she heard her mother’s voice on the other line.

“I heard her in the background and I thought for sure that they had taken her,” Kennedy said.

The man commanded Lauren to put money into re-loadable debit cards, demanded the card numbers over the phone, and ordered Lauren to destroy the cards afterward.

“He, at that time, hung up and never called me back,” Kennedy said. “So, within a minute or so, I called my mom’s phone again, and, at that time, she answered.”

That’s when Lauren realized she had fallen victim to an elaborate phone scam.

The sheriff’s office said the scammers used a spoofing device to make it look like the phone call was made from Lauren’s mother’s phone, and to really sell it, the scammers called Lauren’s mother in the middle of the fake ransom call.

They got her mother worked up by saying they had Lauren.

“They just wanted her to be scared and to sound scared, I’m sure,” Kennedy said. “But, all I heard was her saying my name, and, yeah, I still can’t believe it.”

She can’t believe it because she says she is as careful as anyone when it comes to scams.

“I don’t answer phone calls that I don’t recognize,” Kennedy said. “I don’t answer blocked numbers. I just feel like the public needs to know about this. If I can fall for this, anybody could fall for this.”

Authorities say people should just hang up when they receive scam calls.

They also advise caution when posting personal information online.

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