BEWARE: Crook makes fake call and demands money in "virtual" kidnapping

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It was late afternoon and a local woman got a terrifying call from an unknown number.

"He said, 'Your brother has been involved in a bad accident in Midland, Texas.' I freaked out," she said.

She said the caller made a disturbing demand to her boyfriend.

"Unless you send me $1,500 we're going to kill her brother," she said.

The woman said what frightened her even more, was the fact that the caller knew disturbing details. He knew, for example, that her brother happened to be in Midland that day. It was information, she said, that was not shared on social media.

"How would these people know our names and know that he's in Midland? How did they know these things about us? How did they know what name to call him by because if they found him on social media, he has a different name?" she asked.

A similar scenario played out in Phoenix. This time, a man called a mother saying he had kidnapped her daughter.

"It was her voice crying saying, 'Mom, I'm in a car. I'm with a man. He put me in here. I don't know where I'm going," said Kate Cass.

But, it wasn't Cass' daughter on the phone or the local woman's brother. Investigators said the callers in these cases were crooks trying to exploit people when they're most vulnerable. Investigators said the crooks want you to get money and then find a way to get it to them fast.

"They try to get somebody to make a cash purchase at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and using what is called a purchase card," said Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne.

Chambers County has seen several cases. The sheriff said never get these cards or give out personal information over the phone. He also said if you do get one of these calls, to ask the caller for a call back number. That can help detectives track down the suspect.

Also, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said it has also heard of cases like this. A spokesperson said the crooks use several different schemes to try to lure people in. Sometimes they will call saying a loved one needs to be bailed out of jail or is in harm's way.

Deputies said either tell the caller you will call them back or need some time to gather the money. This will give you a chance to locate your loved one to ensure they are okay.

Fortunately for the local woman we talked to, she realized something wasn't right and didn't give the caller any money. She just hopes by sharing her story, it helps someone else.

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