BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Shortly before noon Monday, Adreon was driving to Costco when her cell phone rang. It was a phone number from Mexico.
She answered it and heard a frantic woman screaming and crying for help.
“I’m like, ‘ I can’t understand you. What are you saying? What do you need help with?’ It went on for probably 45 seconds of her just screaming,” Adreon told KOIN 6 News.
Then a man got on the line. He called her by her name “and it freaked me out because he knew my name.”
The man told her he was holding her daughter hostage and demanded ransom to get her back.
“I was definitely panicked and I was just trying to listen to see whatever he wanted to say and I asked him repeatedly to talk to my daughter again.”
He refused, she said, and demanded she go to the bank or else he would kill her daughter.
Adreon, a 39-year-old single mom whose last name will not be revealed by KOIN, said she was terrified.
Her 20-year-old college student daughter was babysitting. Adreon didn’t know where her daughter was, if the baby was with her.
“I just wanted to listen and do whatever it took to get her back or get to her.”
The “kidnapper” kept telling her to give him updates of where she was and what she was seeing as she headed toward a bank.
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 503.629.0111
She said she tried to text her daughter and the person she was babysitting for all while she kept the “kidnapper” on the speaker phone for 9 minutes.
Adreon told the “babysitting people” to call the police. Then she got a call from her daughter.
“I hung up with the guy because I wanted to hear her voice,” Adreon told KOIN. Through miscommunication in the texts, her daughter thought there might be somebody in the house.
Adreon explained to her daughter what was going on.
She said, “Honey, these guys said they have you hostage. Are you OK? Are you safe? She said ‘I’m fine, I’m OK. I’m upstairs, I’m scared.” She was safe and there was no intruder in the house.
And then the “kidnapper” called back.
“He yelled at me and swore at me and told me he was going to kill her because he knows I called the police.”
By then, knowing her daughter was actually safe, she felt more empowered.
“I said, ‘I’m getting your money, you need to let me talk to my daughter right now.’ He swore at me and then hung up.”
Immediately, Adreon said, she called the police and headed toward where her daughter was.‘I am not a gullible person’
Adreon said she’s been feeling uneasy since the call and has taken steps to make her and her daughter’s everyday lives safer.
They’ve already changed their names on Facebook, locked down their privacy settings and plan to be more careful about what they post.
“I feel like I’m younger. I see the scams coming through email all the time. I know ‘don’t open the email.’ I have no problem with that. This scam was so well thought-through and so realistic that I believed it. I am not a gullible person, you know. I can tell when somebody is lying to me.”
She decided to speak out because she doesn’t want other people to go through this.
Adreon took a personal day off from work and said she and her daughter will be fine and get through this. But she urges people to be more cautious about what they do on social media.
“There are people out there with bad intentions and you just never know when you’ll be a victim of that bad intention.”
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 503.629.0111The FBI explains virtual kidnapping scam:
It starts with a phone call, text or email. The scammer tells you that he has abducted your child, grandchild or maybe a spouse – and he demands money in exchange for their safe return. … In a virtual kidnapping, the bad guy hasn’t actually abducted anyone. He just wants you to think that he has.The scammer’s goal is to stress you out so much that you don’t take time to consider that the kidnapping is fake. He might try to intimidate you by pretending to be a gang member or a corrupt police officer. … In almost all cases, the bad guy will threaten violence against his “victim” if you disobey him. He often has the ability to spoof — or copy — the alleged victim’s number. He wants to cause panic, fear, and a sense of urgency, because those feelings stop you from thinking clearly.So how do you protect yourself?* Be cautious about what you post on social media. In particular, consider waiting to post about foreign travel until after you return. Some scammers call every number with a certain area code, but others research their targets. * Let the people close to you know when you will be travelling to places without cell service or internet connection. * Know the red flags: Did the call come from a phone other than the victim’s? Was the call from an area code far from where your loved one lives? Did the caller insist that the ransom had to be paid by wire transfer? Did he try to keep you on the phone? * If you do receive a ransom call, try to stay calm. Slow the situation down by writing things down or telling the caller that you need time to do what he’s asking. Request to speak to the victim. Try to contact your loved one by other means, such as text or social media. * Remember — stranger-to-stranger kidnappings are very rare. However, if you believe a real kidnapping has occurred or if you are not sure, call 911.
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