Unique kidnapping scam fakes phone numbers you know

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Imagine getting a call that one of your loved ones has been kidnapped. That’s what law enforcement says is a new disturbing way scammers are trying to get your money.

It happened to KBTX reporter Jessica Gruenling Saturday when she got an unexpected call.

"My phone started ringing and it said Kaity, that's my sister, so I pick it up,” said Gruenling.

The person on the other end was not her sister. The number had been spoofed and a man on the other end was calling Jessica by name.

"He wouldn't tell me who he was but told me he was with my sister and she had gotten herself into some trouble," she said.

From there she says the man's demeanor changed. He started demanding money from Gruenling and even made some alarming threats.

"He said he needs money or he is going to kill my sister,” she said. “That he has a gun with him."

Jessica says she heard crying in the background. The man wouldn't tell her where he was. In a panic, Jessica started texting her family, while the scammer was still on the phone.

"My mom texted me and said ‘I literally just talked to her hang up that phone,’ she said.

Experts say once these scammers have your name and phone number it's as simple as searching your social media to see who you are connected with.

"We tell these scam stories all the time, so you know what to look for,” she said. “Just the fact that they can spoof someone's number to pop up on your phone as a family member threw me off.”

Jessica's sister was fine but shaken up about the call.

Local authorities say you should never send someone you don't know money over the phone. If you get a call similar to this the first thing to do is verify your loved one is actually okay by calling or texting them.

They say if you can try to stall the scammer while you are trying to reach that person. Hang up once you know they are ok and call the police to report the instance.

A spokesperson for Bryan police says they turn these types of cases over to the Attorney General’s office so they can further investigate these types of scams.