MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A new phone scam is so sophisticated that it had one New Jersey mother terrified that her son was going to be killed.
The con artists claimed they have kidnapped family members and demand ransom on threat of death.
The Morris Plains mother and son who were targeted told CBS2’s Christine Sloan their extraordinary story, in an effort to prevent others from getting scammed.
The scammers first called the 17-year-old boy, claiming they were holding his father hostage.
“They said that if I couldn’t give them the $3,000, they were going to blow his head off,” he said.
The teen frantically told them to call his mother on his older brother’s cellphone. That was when the scam artists preyed on her.
“They proceeded to tell me that Liam started arguing with this bad man, and this bad man had hit him over the head with a gun, and now they have Liam,” the mother said.
CBS2 has hidden the participants’ faces, only using their first names, because they are afraid. The mother was told to wire $3,000 to Florida and Puerto Rico if she wanted to see her young son alive.
“They said if they didn’t get money, they were going to kill my son,” she said.
The person on the other line got the 17-year-old’s cell phone number — registered to his dad – and told him to come to a local park. The person even told him to describe in detail what he was wearing.
“They said, ‘Just go somewhere where you can sit or be just be, like, out of sight,” the boy said.
He hid behind a tree, while the scammers remained on the line with his mother — still at home. The scammers, who had already led the boy’s mother to believe they had kidnapped her son, now repeated to her what her son said he had been wearing.
“He told me exactly what he had been wearing,” the mother said. “I almost collapsed.”
The boy said the scammers “told me not to answer any incoming calls, not to take any texts, not to hang up with them.”
Police believe the scam artists either got the 17-year-old’s cellphone number from the Internet or just called it randomly. The family immediately called 911.
“They scrambled the phone numbers, so weren’t able to get a trace on it. It first came back to Indonesia and India,” said Morris Township police Detective Sgt. Brian Holick.
But police did track the son’s cellphone.
“And somehow they patched his voice through the phone so it sounded like he was actually with them on the phone,” Holick said.
The ordeal ultimately ended well, with police finding the 17-year-old alone at the park and the kidnapping turning out to be a hoax.
“I just think these people are the scum of the earth and they need to be dealt with,” the mother said.
While the case ended well, the calls still haunt the family.