A couple of years ago , I got the best Valentines Day gift ever! Long story short, my husband paid a ransom for me.
Literally. He went to Western Union and wire transferred $500.00 dollars for my release.
I was attending Cisco Certified Networking Classes
It was a normal day, I drove the kids to school and dropped them off. Then headed to my NetAcademy class to learn about CCENT/CCNA Routing&Switching. I eventually obtained 2 certificates.
Just like everyday, I got to my desk and put my phone on vibrate, so as not to disturb my classmates. Everything was fine. Traffic was usual, no delays, I got a parking spot quickly, I set up my networks and got ready for class.
About 2 hours into class time, some one from the office down the hall came into the room and asked my instructor if I was in class that day or not. He pointed me out and the attendant came over and told me to call my husband immediately.
Oh No! An Emergency!!
There was great cause for concern! I jumped up and searched through my belongings for my phone and quickly saw that my husband had tried to call me more than 15 times! Even though my phone was on vibrate, you can still hear or feel the area that it is in shaking. I must have been up at the routers and switches pulling plugs and switching cables, or I was oblivious to his attempt to try and get a hold of me.
I naturally thought the worst. He’s injured, car accident? My kids got hurt/sick. Some one died? Are my parents ok? There was a fire in the home? Did some one get arrested? WHAT WAS GOING ON!?
Are you ok?
I called my husband, nearly sweating and about to start crying. “Whats going on! What happened!? Who’s hurt!?” I say to him, almost barking.
“I’m fine, are YOU ok!? Where are you!?”, you can hear the distress in his voice but relieved to have heard mine.
He kept asking me if I’m ok, if I’m hurt……..at this time I am totally confused as to what had happened.
“Please, Just come home.” he said to me. He didn’t want to tell me what had happened.
Honey? I’m home…..
He was waiting for me at the door, watching me walk up the side walk from the window. I seriously thought some one had died. Oh no.
As soon as I walked up the stairs, I didn’t even put my keys in the door, he had opened it and held me for a very long time. He didn’t want to let me go. Crying and shaking, he brought me to the couch where we both sat. Tears flooded his eyes, almost bleeding.
A terrifying phone call
“Hello?” my husband just woke up, saying softly. “*#^$ We hAveA wOMan HHere! *%” Some weird voice on the other line starts saying gibberish things, echoing almost.
My husband is now fully awake, “WHO!? Who do you have!? My WIFE!?”
The person on the other end of the line acknowledges and say, “YES! We have your WIFE!”
Panic sets in, blood pressure rising. My husband starts getting loud, “WHY!? Why do you have my wife!? What happened? Is she ok!!??”
On the other end of the line they had said, “She hit my car, we took her and wont let her go until you pay us!”
In the background of the phone call there was someone, a woman screaming for help, crying, and more yelling. “PLEASE! PLEASE! SAVE ME!”
“We will hurt her, so dont call the police, do you understand?”, another man was now speaking.
“Give us $1,000.00 dollars and we will let her go” (woman crying out louder now than before), the man had said.
My husband started pleading with the men for my release, “We dont have a thousand dollars! I can give you $500.00 and a laptop, we have jewelry too. Don’t hurt my wife please!”
The attackers agreed and sent instructions to my husband to wire the money to them through Western Union. He sent the money.
He tried to end the call multiple times and tried to call my phone to see where I was and if it was true that I was in jeopardy. Every time he hung up, the attackers called back, with more crying and screaming in the background and new noises such as slapping and “chain saw” sounds.
My knight in shining armor!
Willing to find me, save me, rescue me from my attackers……..my husband went to the bank and withdrew five-hundred dollars! Took the jewelry from the box and disconnected the laptop.
He went up to the teller where he was instructed and paid for my release, the ransom. The teller had asked him if he was alright, he confirmed and said he was fine.
The attackers stayed with him on the phone until he had paid, then they disconnected.
My husband frantically tried to call them back and find out where to locate me. They took the money without telling him where to find me!
Something was off…..
A sinking feeling had started to set in his mind. Stomach churning and turning into anger, rage. He thought to himself, “Had I been duped?”
Receipt, necklaces, rings, and a laptop in hand started to look pretty absurd to him. Humiliation starts to form.
After driving back home and reconnecting the laptop, he finds the number for the school I was at and calls to see if I was at school that day. I was. I never answered my phone, it was on vibrate, I was busy learning about networks.
“Something bad happened honey, please, just come home……I cant tell you on the phone.” Relieved to hear my voice, he waits for me to come home…..watching out the window. Waiting anxiously but, knowing that I was ok and would be home soon.
All’s well that end’s well.
Scammers and victims. We were the victims and got scammed.
Virtual kidnapping is what the FBI calls it, and we were one of the lucky members that got picked!
I didn’t get to go out on my fancy date with my husband, nor did I get to go to the movies. No chocolates, no flowers. I told him, you already got me the best gift I could ever want. You paid for my release from capture. A ransom. You saved me. I don’t need gifts, I just need you.
Cheesy right? At least it was a happy ending. Happy Valentines Day!
To learn more about the Virtual Kidnapping Scam and how to protect your self click the links below.
Although virtual kidnapping takes on many forms, it is always an extortion scheme—one that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is being threatened with violence or death. Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart.
Texas Woman Charged in Virtual Kidnapping Scheme
HOUSTON – A 34-year-old Houston woman has been taken into custody for her alleged involvement in a virtual kidnapping for ransom scheme that stretched to three states, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas.