From sex trafficking scams in grocery stores to stranger danger at a local Wendy’s, it seems no place is a safe space for our kids anymore. Through the ever-growing uses of technology, it’s becoming more and more “normal” for even our own homes to be a target.
But rather than falling prey to the crafty tactics of today’s scam artists, one brave mother decided to take matters into her own hands by outwitting a stranger at his own game.
Leslie Waters of Auburn was at her home one morning last week when she received an alarming call from a stranger. The connection was muffled, but she could vividly hear the voice of a girl screaming and crying for her mom to help in the background.
Something seemed fishy to Leslie, as she knew her daughter was safe at daycare.
“At first I thought it was a wrong number. But my chest was tight. I was afraid, and I thought maybe something had happened to my daughter. But the number threw me off. It wasn’t my daughter’s school. She certainly wouldn’t be the one calling me. I didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when a man with a foreign accent drowned out the sound of the crying girl. He started not by telling Leslie an amount of money he wanted, but rather asking her how much money she would be able to withdraw from her bank.
She was confident it was still a “wrong number,” having knowledge of the tight security at her daughter’s school, but the high-pressure situation still left her concerned.
“Still, when you hear someone say ‘kidnap your daughter,’ and that he’d kill her unless you follow instructions, you don’t always [use] common sense.”
The man on the other end of the phone then proceeded to list off his “ransom demands,” and the steps Leslie was expected to take in order to “save her daughter’s life.”
He ordered her to put the phone on speaker-mode, then grab her cell phone charger and drive to the bank. Once there, she would need to refer to him as “son,” and he would call her “mom,” to prevent anyone from becoming suspicious.
Of course by now we’re all thinking what Leslie had been thinking the whole time: This has GOT to be a scam. But I’m telling you from experience, even when you know it’s false, there’s a piece of your mind and heart that goes into full panic-mode.
Scammers take full advantage of knowing that you’re going to act on your fearful instinct—especially as a parent. Not to mention, Leslie was at home alone, with no idea how this caller got her information, where he might be calling from and what he could have access to. The thought is completely agonizing.