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Police: Common Scam Making Rounds Again


We've been telling you about a scary scam that's once again making the rounds.

Springs police say that on Sunday, a man got a call from a scammer claiming to have kidnapped the man's brother. The caller provided an elaborate and evolving storyline about how the brother was kidnapped.

The scammer demanded money in exchange for the safe release of the brother. Then in a threatening manner, the suspect warned the man that he shouldn’t call police. The victim of the attempted scam called his brother--it turns out he was unharmed and not the victim of a kidnapping.

Different variations of the scam have been making the rounds for awhile now; 11 News has done reports on them for nearly a year.

Two months ago we talked to a teen who got one of these calls. Police recorded the conversation:

"Get in your vehicle,” the scammer can be heard saying.

“No, I’m scared, I don't know you, you're threatening me,” the teen replied.

“No? Okay. Jason, go downstairs and do what you gotta do to her brother. I’m not going to waste my time on the phone," the scammer says.

That man told the teen they were holding her older brother hostage. They wanted her to get in her car and drive to an unknown location; instead of following the caller’s instructions, she drove straight to the police station.

Police say the scammers are so aggressive and almost believable because they often know details about you and your family, stuff they probably find online. Officers told 11 News this call is a good example of how threatening the scammers can be.

"What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do?" the scammer can be heard asking repeatedly during the phone call.

In February, we talked to another would-be victim of the scam. The caller told him his wife had been in a crash in downtown Colorado Springs--which just so happened to be where she really was. The man says that at first, he thought it was true. But he quickly realized not all the facts were adding up.

"He couldn't tell me the color of the vehicles, he couldn't tell me the name of my wife or anything like that," the man said.

Last year, we reported on a single mom who says she was traumatized by a very similar call about her sister.

"I was shaking, I was crying, I was really terrified for my sister's life," Melanie Shenk said.

Investigators say the calls typically come from an out-of-state phone number. That was what Melanie Shenk saw on her caller ID last year when she received a call that her sister had been in a car crash. The caller said that if she wanted any more information it was going to cost her hundreds of dollars.

"I was shaking, I was crying, I was really terrified for my sister's life," Shenk said.

Shenk tried calling her sister and couldn't reach her, which made the call seem all the more plausible. Thankfully, her sister called her back soon after.

Shenk told 11 News that she was so panicked when she received the call that she overlooked some red flags--particularly one enormous one at the beginning of the call when the scammer asked her if she had a brother or sister.

In all of these cases, the victims were told not to call police. But detectives tell us anytime you're unsure you should always call them. Officers can verify traffic crashes, even if they are in a different city.


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