How Virtual Kidnapping Takes your Money, Time, and Peace of Mind

“It shatters everything. I can’t feel safe anymore”

Imagine yourself on a typical Wednesday afternoon. Maybe you’re off on your lunch break or at home cooking, when the phone rings. Rrrring rrring, rrring rrring… ‘unknown caller’, reads the caller ID, but you answer it anyway. It’s only a phone call, what is there to be afraid of? What do you have to lose? Paranoia and over $9,000, that’s what! Wendy Mueller will tell you, as she was forced to face HER (and arguably every parent’s) biggest fear.

‘WE HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER’

Mueller received three commands after hearing the voice of a woman who she was convinced was her daughter screaming and begging for help: to get her purse, phone, and charger, and rush to her car.

Mueller knew she had to do everything in her power to keep her daughter alive.

“How much cash can you get?” asked the criminal.

“$10,000,” she responded.

What she didn’t know, however, is that she was being conned!

The travesty lasted for more than five hours and cost her thousands of dollars along with much distress. The torture came to an end only after she drove from ATM to ATM. She didn’t realize it was a malicious lie until she got confirmation via text from family (including her daughter) that her daughter was alright.

But by this time, she had wired $9,100 under complete mind control.

But how does one get played like that for so long?

  1. The scammer did his research- familiarizing himself with the area and with Mueller as well to make the scam credible. She’s from Loudon County aka Richville.
  2. The scammer made persuasive claims that made her feel like he was watching her every move like describing her surroundings as she drove past them. Creepy, I know.
  3. Her daughter was miles away in college, so there was no quick way to know that she was actually safe.

This story is a nightmare come true, but the biggest plot-twisting “coincidence” is the text message Mueller’s daughter sent:

“Hey guys, look at what I was doing in class today.”

That’s when a photo of a school project popped up: “SNATCHED” and “DON’T BE NEXT” read the title of the movie poster she worked on in class.

You know what they say: every cloud has a silver lining. Although Mueller lost a whole lot to an unknown caller including her sense of security, her daughter is safe.

Nevertheless, this is a reminder of the threat scammers present and of how vulnerable we are to them.

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