Local woman scared by fake kidnapping phone scam

WASHINTON – A scam has returned to the region and it’s prompting a warning from police.

It began when a Montgomery County woman received a call on her cellphone at her office in Howard County. The man’s voice on the other end was unfamiliar.

“Do you have a brother, or a husband or a son? There’s a very serious accident and he needs help,” the woman heard at the other end of the line.

Nicole, who doesn’t want her last name used, says she froze at first, and then ran into the hallway at work.

She was told her husband had gotten into a fight with the caller’s brother after a car accident and was now being held hostage. If she hung up, called the police or called her husband’s cellphone, she was told, her husband would be dead. They wanted money.

She managed to signal a co-worker who then called her husband.

“I just confirmed that my husband was OK, and inadvertently hung up on the people who were harassing me,” Nicole said. “They did not call back.”

This is a variation on a scam which has been making the rounds in the capital region recently. Sometimes the caller says he’s a grandson and needs bail money.

Howard County consumer advocate Rebecca Bowman says it’s best to get as much information as possible from the caller without giving out any information. It’s also important not to react too quickly.

“Take a breath, get someone else to assist you in making calls in determining the accuracy of the call that’s been made and enlist the assistance of the police,” Bowman said.

Howard County police are investigating this case.

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