A phone scammer who leverages terror is at work in California, claiming to have kidnapped a family member and demanding immediate payment.
Reports of the scam have surfaced in Folsom and Milpitas. FOX40 acquired a recording of the fake kidnapper at work in Citrus Heights. That recording can be found at the bottom of this story.
"I don't know who it is. It's one of my girls. He's going to kill them," says the panicked victim in the recording.
The rouse includes terrified pleas from someone posing as the family member, and high-pressure tactics like a countdown until the supposed kidnapper shoots them.
"My legs are shaking so bad. My whole body's shaking. My voice was shaking," said the Citrus Heights victim, who asked that FOX40 not use her name.
Fear is a natural reaction to the fake kidnapper's threats, and exactly the reaction he is counting on.
"If you don't tell me who the f*** you're with right now, I'm going to f***ing put a bullet in her head," says the ominous voice on the other end of the line.
This time, however, he was on speakerphone being recorded.
"This just needs to get out there because there are parents out there, and grandmothers out there who would just give anything for their kids and not know," said Cheryl McDaniels, who made the recording.
The victim is her close friend. Friday's afternoon she got an unexpected phone call, with an unknown voice on the line, claiming he had kidnapped her daughter and was preparing to kill her if she didn't fetch him money right away.
But it's all a lie; a scam playing on fear for a big pay-out.
We traced the number to a city in central Thialand. But when we called the recording in Thai said the number was not in service now.
"You don't know what you're thinking. You don't know what you're doing. And he was hammering, hammering at me, 'don't talk to anybody. Don't call anybody,'" the victim said of the phone call.
But she used her fear to counter the kidnappers demands, telling him she was unable to hurry.
"You're scaring me and I can't walk. I'm shaking," she says in the recording.
Luckily she was with her friend Cheryl McDaniels, who told her not to believe it, and call the police.
Still, it would be hours before they were able to track down her adult daughters and make sure they were alright.
"One of my daughters we couldn't reach by phone. [We] drove up, and I just balled. I came apart," the victim said.
And she says ever since, she's stayed at home, kept her grandkids close, and tried to stay off the phone.