St. Louis woman targeted in nationwide 'virtual kidnapping' scam - KMOV.com

St. Louis woman targeted in nationwide 'virtual kidnapping' scam, FBI investigating

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KMOV KMOV
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Just one week before the Solar Eclipse on August 21, St. Louis County resident, Nancy McGowan, received a frightening phone call from someone she didn't know.

She said on the other end of the line they told her, "If you [sic] hang up, I'm going to kill your daughter. I have her duct taped in the back of my van," said McGowan, "They played a recording that sounded identical to something she would normally say to me...and to say I was scared is an understatement."

McGowan's youngest daughter was traveling at the time, so she could have believably been kidnapped without her mom knowing confidently that this was a setup. In case this phone call was a true ransom call, McGowan said she didn't want to take any chances, so she complied with the perpetrators.

The perpetrators convinced McGowan to stay on the line by threatening to kill her daughter if she hung up the phone. Then they demanded she wire them money. She gave them around $4,800. 

She ultimately learned it was a scam after the money had already been transferred over. Her daughter was safe and never kidnapped to begin with. 

This is a scam happening nationwide and now the FBI is launching an awareness campaign to fight the growing scam. To prevent this from happening to someone else, McGowan suggests learning your device thoroughly. She said she didn't know at the time she had the ability to text someone while she was still on the phone with the scammers without their knowledge.

"Learn what you have and how to use it because I could have texted anyone while he was on the phone and he would not have known but I didn't know that," said McGowan. 

McGowan says the number came from a foreign area code and number. The FBI says the numbers these scammers use change frequently and are often untraceable. They warn people to stay alert, and if they get one of these phone calls, contact the alleged victim and police right away.

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