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'I was hysterical:' Virtual kidnappers target S.C. residents

'I was hysterical:' Virtual kidnappers target S.C. residents

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by Madeline Montgomery

North Myrtle Beach, SC (WPDE) — Scammers are using fear and lies to try and get people to pay up.

This past Saturday was a normal day for a North Myrtle Beach woman, until her phone rang.

"My phone rang and there was a young girl crying and it sounded like my daughter and she said 'Mom I'm hurt. Please help me, they beat me up.' and I asked her 'Can you get to the hospital' and she was like 'I can't go anywhere," explained the victim, who wishes to remain unnamed.

And just like that, her day turned into a nightmare.

"Then this man got on the phone and he says 'Look. This is what's happening. She owes me money and I want my money today and if you don't give me my money, I'm going to kill her," said the victim.

It is a virtual kidnapping scam that police say is growing because once the scam works in an area code, they will call more numbers in that area.

There was one in Myrtle Beach last week.

"They use fear. They get to individuals that are unsuspecting and they use one of greatest tools against them and that's their loved ones," explained Justin Baker, a North Myrtle Beach police officer.

"It was a sick feeling inside and I was hysterical," said the victim.

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The worst part: It is hard to catch the bad guys.

"The difficult part with these numbers, if you will, are typically throw away phones. They're phones that are assigned a number for a certain amount of time and then dumped off once the task is completed," said Officer Baker.

The bank accounts the suspects use are usually overseas.

"The investigation gets difficult when you go into other nations as well so it's hard to tell exactly," said Officer Baker.

The best local police can do is work with the FBI and warn residents.

"We recently put out a scam alert and other agencies are doing the same." said Officer Baker.

Officers say if you get one of these calls, hang up and call police.

North Myrtle Beach has around five reports of these scams. Horry County police have two reports of these scams. Myrtle Beach police also have two reports of these scams.

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