COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has previously advised residents about a telephone scam where a man calls potential victim(s) advising that their child has been kidnapped and will be killed if money is not paid for his/her release. In each instance, the “child” does not live at the home of the parent adding to the possibility of the person being missing.
Recently a CCSO employee was targeted in this scam and fortunately he was able to locate his daughter before any transactions were made.
On Wednesday, April 3 a Bisbee resident and previous federal law enforcement officer was contacted by a girl who was screaming and saying "dad, I have been in a car accident and I am trapped inside of the car…" before the line was disconnected. According to CCSO moments later, the man was contacted again by a male subject who advised that the daughter, who was identified by name, was taken and it would cost $5,000 to get her back. The caller advised the potential victim to stay on the phone and not tell anyone about what was going on; telling the potential victim to go to a grocery store in Bisbee to give the caller the money. The potential victim went to the store and was not contacted by anyone, rather, he was told to send the money via Western Union inside of the store, which he did not do.
The potential victim went to the Bisbee Police Department instead and was able to relay what was happening on the phone. Officers were able to hear the conversation, as well as what appeared to be a young girl crying while the man said that she was repeatedly raped and would be shot in the head if the money was not received. Bisbee police began working with SEACOM (communications personnel) in an attempt to get additional information on the daughter as well as with the CCSO deputies who went to the Sierra Vista home and to other locations where the daughter might have been.
The potential victim advised that caller that he was able to get the $5,000 and the caller then gave detailed directions to him on how to drive from that location to a grocery store with access to Western Union.
The caller made the potential victim stay on the phone during the drive, in an attempt to delay any other contact with the daughter or law enforcement officials. When the potential victim advised that he was at the grocery store, the caller told him to wire $2,000.
It was then that the victim's daughter was found safe in Sierra Vista and she had no knowledge of the call or incident that was going on with her father. The call was disconnected and no further contact was made to the potential victim.
Although this scenario has played out across Cochise County and the U.S. on a daily basis, Bisbee Police Department Chief Echave said, "Listening to that call was absolutely gut-wrenching for me as a parent and mentally devastating to look into another parents’ eyes to see the anguish that is there because of a disturbingly malicious criminal out for a fast buck."
The CCSO is advising anyone who receives a call such as this to HANG UP the phone immediately and attempt to locate their loved one. Will this be scary? YES, but don’t become the victim and let the scammer take control of their money or mental wellbeing.
“We will take all action possible to identify these disgusting people who prey on the heart and soul of parents and loved ones just to see how much they can get without working at a real job,” said Cochise County sheriff Mark Dannels. “It is cases like this that seem most challenging to identify and arrest the suspect, but we won’t be deterred because the path is difficult, so know we will do what we can to find and prosecute them!”