It was last Wednesday afternoon that Wendy Mueller, a mother from Virginia endured what was later determined to be a virtual kidnapping scam for hours. This mother from Virginia was in the kitchen and had just accidentally cut her thumb, according to The Washington Post, when her phone rang. It was not a phone number Wendy recognized, but she answered it anyway.
After answering the phone, she heard what sounded like the voice of her 23-year-old daughter crying, screaming, and begging for help. Next, she heard an unfamiliar voice say, “we have your daughter.” What followed this chilling announcement was hours of pure torture for this Virginia mom who ended up enduring what police are calling a virtual kidnapping scam. According to The Washington Post it is a very old scam that is particularly popular in the Washington area. The callers of this scam will target people in affluent areas and research enough information online to make the virtual kidnapping scam believable.
In the heat of the moment, this mother from Virginia had no idea she was becoming the next victim of a virtual kidnapping scam. Wendy believed her daughter’s life was at stake and she did everything the person on the phone instructed her to do in order to keep her daughter alive.
The Virginia mother was instructed to put her phone on speaker, grab her purse, grab her phone charger, and get into her vehicle. Then, the caller proceeded to ask her how much cash she would be able to get. Her response was, “$10,000.”
The voice – as the Virginia mother described – was very calm and eloquent. The caller did have a bit of an accent, but spoke clear English with appropriate Americanized word choice. The caller proceeded to warn the mother not to try to get anyone to help her or her daughter would be killed.
Naturally, some people are going to wonder how it is possible for this mother not to know this was a scam and that her daughter hadn’t actually been kidnapped. The reason virtual kidnapping scams work so well is because targets for the scam are researched and handpicked. In this case, her youngest child was going to a college that was located hundreds of miles away. The college was also known to be in a town that was a little rough and tough at times. So, this Virginia mother had no way of knowing for sure if her daughter was safe.
“They told me that they were actually targeting someone else, someone they would be able to get a lot of money for. But they said my daughter intervened when they tried to grab him. And that sounded exactly like something she would do.”
According to The Washington Post the mother claimed to be terrified during the entire ordeal and was under the impression that these people who called her would not hesitate to kill her daughter if she did not do everything they told her to do.
The caller who had orchestrated the entire virtual kidnapping told the mother from Virginia that he had hacked her phone and knew exactly where she was going and every move she was making. For the next several hours, the man on the phone had her go to several small offices and stores all across the northern part of the state and wire maximum amounts of money to a name and address located in Mexico.
The entire time she was on the phone with the caller she kept asking him if she could speak to her daughter. The caller kept promising her that as soon as she sent them the last one, she would get to talk to her daughter. The caller could describe the buildings and fields around her as she passed them, giving her the chilling feeling that they were following her.
She claimed to have thought about flagging someone down to help her, but she had the caller on speaker phone and he was able to hear everything she was doing. After every deposit she made, she was told to rip up the receipts. Any time he didn’t hear the ripping sound of the receipt, he noticed. She ended up grabbing and ripping up other pieces of paper and shoving the receipts in her purse.
At one point in time during the phone call, the caller even insisted that he would start calling her “mom” and she would refer to him as “son.”
The caller continued to talk to the Virginia mother throughout the entire incident. He claimed to be a member of a long and professional organization who kidnapped people and killed all the time when people refused to cooperate to get their loved ones back. He even claimed to have headphones on the daughter so she could hear everything that happened and so that she would know if her mother did anything to cause them to kill her.
The Virginia mother described the whole ordeal as “torture.” Later, Wendy Mueller learned that none of what had happened to her was true. Her daughter was at school, in the middle of a class, and the person she was on the phone with was a scam artist executing a virtual kidnapping scam.
Families in California, New York, Texas, and the Washington area have all been targeted with this virtual kidnapping scam. According to The Washington Post the Prince William County police warned families back in May about the virtual kidnapping scam.
In many cases, virtual kidnapping scammers are able to collect enough information to pick and choose their victims using the internet. In the case of this Virginia mother, the caller would have been able to look up her zip code and learned she lived in one of the richest counties in the nation. It is also possible the caller knew that the ex-husband of the mother was employed as a chief executive at Bookkeeping Express which is a company responsible for helping small businesses with their finances.
The ordeal continued until around 8:30 p.m. The mother from Virginia had wired $9,300 to the caller when she received a text message from her daughter. The daughter the caller had claimed to have kidnapped. Once the Virginia mother exchanged a few more text messages with her daughter and was convinced she was safe, she hung up her phone and reported the incident to the police.
The caller never tried to call the Virginia mother back as he had already successfully used the virtual kidnapping scam to get the mother to wire him nearly $10,000.
This mother from Virginia made the decision to share her story in order to try to save other individuals from falling victim to the same scam.
What would you do if someone called you and told you they kidnapped your child? Share your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.
[Featured Image via Pinkypills/ThinkStock]