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Victim of kidnapping phone scam shares experience to bring awareness to the issue

NewsWest 9 spoke to a victim of a phone kidnapping scam who said she felt helpless and hopes no one ever has to feel that way.

ODESSA, Texas — Scam calls-we've all heard of them, most us have probably even received one.

Those calls can be about a late bill, a fake arrest warrant or that your car warranty is overdue. Sometimes these scams go as far as saying a family member has been in an accident or that their family member has been kidnapped.

NewsWest 9 spoke to a victim of this kind of scam. The woman who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue said she felt helpless and hopes that is a feeling no one ever has to feel.

"The gentleman starts yelling and cursing at me and tells me if I ever want to see my daughter again to calm down and not call the police," said the victim of the kidnapping phone scam. "At this point I was stupefied."

The victim told NewsWest 9 the scammer was claiming her daughter had been kidnapped after stating she was in a car accident.

"I couldn't process any thoughts, I had no idea what was up down I was driving and I had no idea where I was driving," said the woman. "Nothing was rational, I was so stupefied by fear."

That fear is something these scammers rely on according to Jeanette Harper, the Public Affairs Officer for the FBI in El Paso.

"They want you to panic and not ask any questions," said Harper. "They want you to say 'what do I do, where do I send the money' and that kind of thing."

Harper said these calls have become a permanent part of our lives, and it's evolving in new forms.

"It used to happen when it was just telephones, now there is social media, it gives them a troth of information," said Harper. "The internet has been helpful in so many ways, but it has also opened the door to scammers. It is part of our day to day lives now and it's not going to go away."

Harper told NewsWest 9 the main reason people fall for these types of scams is because of who the scammers are targeting like a loved one or a family member.

"Anyone can be a victim, it's not just the stay at home mom, it's the businessman, the professional, it's the oil field worker," said Harper. "Everybody has a family member that can be a target."

Harper emphasizes on the importance of reporting these kinds of scams to the local law enforcement and also to the FBI. She said this can save others from being victims of these scams too.