By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
EDGERTON, KS (KCTV) -
Authorities are warning people of a kidnapping scam alert, where money is demanded for safe return of a relative.
"It just scared you to death. You feel like any false move you make it's going to cost your brother his life," said scam victim Woody Towner.
It started with a curious call to Towner's cell phone.
"They told me my brother had been in an accident and he had run into them and they wanted money and they didn't want the cops involved," Towner said.
That's when Towner asked to talk to his brother, but was denied.
"They wanted the money from him and he tried to call the cops and so they beat him up and took him hostage," he said.
The scammer tried to convince Towner to wire them $2,000 for ransom or they were going to kill his brother.
"They told me if I disconnected the call they'd put a bullet in his head, so I couldn't call anyone else or check," he said.
Towner drives a tow truck and was in far west Johnson County, KS, when the people called. He kept them on the phone for nearly an hour until he saw some Johnson County sheriff's deputies on a training exercise and he stopped and got them involved.
"I put a cop up next to my ear so he could hear and once he heard he put me in their command post and they started getting all the phone numbers and they got a hold of my brother and made sure he was OK," he said.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Department said Towner did exactly what he was supposed to do. They say scammers like this call thousands of people every single day hoping to get one person to wire them money.
"It's simple, easy money as far as they are concerned. They can make a whole bunch of phone calls and if they just get one or two people to wire them money they've made their cash for the day," said Deputy Tom Erickson.
Towner said it was a call he'll never forget, but he's thankful that his brother is OK and hopes others don't fall for the scam.
"I really felt like my brother would lose his life and it would be my fault," he said.
Authorities were able to gather the phone number from the caller ID.
Deputies discovered the same phone number had been used in previous scams in different parts of the country.
Authorities say to avoid becoming a victim of a scam like this, be leery of calls from unknown persons or area codes.
The sheriff's office encourages anyone receiving questionable calls like this to contact local law enforcement officials.
They also warn that money or vital information should never be given over the phone to unknown people.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:14:19 GMT
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