ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. -- A mom in California became the target of a kidnapping scam, and she's sharing her frightening story to alert other parents.
The mother, who only wanted to be identified as Kirsti, spoke with Eyewitness News and said it all started with a simple phone call.
"I heard a crying person," she said. "Then this crying person said, 'Mom!' and continued to sob, and I was trying to identify the sounds."
She said the person on the other end told her that her son had been kidnapped. Believing it was her 20-year-old son, Kirsti called out his name.
That's when she says a man began making threats.
"[He] started asking me for money," she said. "He had my child and he was going to hurt him and proceeded to curse at me."
Kirsti questioned the caller by asking him how much money he wanted, but said the man wouldn't answer.
"That's when they got really frustrated and told me they were going to punish me and hung up the phone," she said.
Kirsti immediately called her son's job and spoke with him, giving her a sense of relief.
That's when she knew she was the victim of the scam. Kirsti then logged on to her computer and placed a Zoom call to the suspect's number.
She reported the call to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, who said, unfortunately, this is a common type of scam.
They advise anyone who gets a similar call to calm down and not respond to the scammer's attempts to create a sense of urgency.
"They're going to have some noise in the background to scare people," said OCSD Sgt. Todd Hylton. "They want you to act right away because the more that people slow things down, the less likely it is that people will fall for scams."
Kirsti is sharing her experience to raise awareness.
"Yes, I was extremely angry and thinking of other people," she said.
Anyone who may have received a similar type of call is urged to contact authorities.