More often than not, the scams that make the news focus on elderly victims. People seeking to take advantage of that vulnerable group do so by preying on their technological naivete and trusting nature.
But one young mother in Austin, Texas, knows that elderly people aren’t the only targets after she nearly fell victim to a manipulative opportunist.
Pye Brown’s young daughter was the bait when she got a call from someone claiming to be a police officer.
He told her that her daughter had been in a car accident. The number had a local area code, and the man gave her his name and badge number.
He reassured Brown that the girl was uninjured but said someone needed to pick her up. Then she heard a crying child.
“A child got on the phone and was crying for their mama,” Brown told KVUE-TV in Austin.
In a moment, the script flipped. Now the man claimed to be holding the girl hostage — not an impossibility, as her daughter was being watched by a nanny that day.
“He started using a harsh voice and told me that he used that story to get my attention and that my daughter was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that he had her,” Brown said.
“He claimed to be in a Mexican drug gang and that I need to listen carefully to his instructions.”
Brown started to panic, as any caring parent would in that situation.
‘I thought that somebody had my baby.’ Austin mom warns others of elaborate kidnapping scam https://t.co/WWnpAGGfwV
— News19 WLTX (@WLTX) July 1, 2022
“I felt like I was underwater,” she recalled. “I was shaking so much because I thought that somebody had my baby.”
But Brown wasn’t about to totally give in to her fear without doing some quick fact-checking. She started to grow a little suspicious and asked the caller to describe her daughter’s appearance.
She also dashed off a text to the nanny watching her child — and soon got a relieving response.
“It was only seconds until I got confirmation that she was safe, but that everything just stood still,” Brown said.
The man then dropped the call.
While everything turned out OK, the interaction has left Brown reeling. She dodged a bullet this time, but if the man had had more specific information about her and her daughter, she might have gone along with the scam.
“I have to presume, for my mental health, that this person — that this was a fluke, and that this person did not know specific details about me,” she said. “But that’s possible, right?”
Brown called 911 to alert the authorities to the attempt, and they directed her to call 311 instead and file a report.
Even though she said she knows this was a rare instance, she still wants other parents to be aware that someone might manipulate them in the same way.
“I’m relieved,” Brown said. “I’ve been spooning my baby. Everything’s fine. So, like, my heart feels better and I feel like my family is safe.”
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