Fort Lauderdale family speaks out on virtual kidnapping scam

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A South Florida family is speaking out on the scariest phone call they ever received regarding their daughter being kidnapped, only to find out it was a scam.

It seemed so real, these criminals even used their daughter’s phone number. And the Department of Homeland Security says these bad calls are all too common.

As they watched their favorite show Saturday night, a Fort Lauderdale couple got a call from who they thought was their daughter, with her contact info showing up on her mom’s iPhone.

Reenactment: “I swear to God I’ll shoot her in the [expletive] head!”

“It’s my worst nightmare,” said the mother.

The mother, who asked we not identify her, said she also heard a commotion in the background and a woman crying.

Reenactment: “I got her. I’m gonna shoot her if you call the police.”

Reenact Kidnapper: “I’ll blow her [expletive] head off!

“Almost like an out-of-body experience. You can’t believe it’s happening,” the mother said.

The caller demanded money.

Re-enactment: “Do you have Zelle?”

Mother: “Yeah, yeah, I have Zelle.”

$1,500 is what that caller wanted, said the family.

But just before the money was sent, they said they reached out to a friend in law enforcement who said, don’t do it.

“And he answers and says it’s a scam,” the mother said.

Their cop friend told the man of the house they were the victims of a phone scam.

Their daughter was called and turned out to be home safe.

They filed a complaint with the FBI. The feds wouldn’t be surprised.

Virtual kidnapping, or spoofing as it’s called, is a common problem.

“Definitely in the portfolio of Homeland Security Investigations,” said Derek Gordon.

Deputy special agent in charge Derek Gordon, of the Department of Homeland Security in Miami, says criminals can get your info online and make it look like they’re calling from your number, tricking a loved one or anyone else.

“There are services out there that you just download the app on your phone and you just type in the number you want showing up,” Gordon said. “So, if I want to call you and I want someone’s else’s number to show up except for mine, I just type that number in.”

He says if you get a call like that family in Fort Lauderdale did, call law enforcement.

“Call them immediately with as many details as you can. And try to get a hold of that loved one,” Gordon said.

“I’m hoping that someone else, when they get a call like this, will know it’s a scam,” the mother said.

If you or someone you know becomes a victim of spoofing, click here.

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