CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – Katie Watston was in her Coral Springs kitchen Monday when her cell phone rang.
Watson answered the phone, and there began a scary encounter.
“I said ‘hello’ and the first thing that I heard was about maybe 20 or 30 seconds of muffled crying sound, sort of like a child’s voice,” Watson recalled in an interview Tuesday with CBS4 News.
“Who is this? Are you okay? I can’t understand you,” Watson recalled saying, relating a conversation first reported by ParklandTalk.com. “I tried to get them to say who is this, what’s your name, what’s the problem?”
Then a strange man’s voice called Katie by name.
“It was a regular, unaccented, American-sounding voice, and he said ‘Katie,’ I have your daughter in the back of my van. You just heard her.”
Katie, however, didn’t wait to hear more from the stranger.
“I know this is a scam,” she said to the man on the other end of the phone, and hung up.
Watson and her husband, Steve, immediately checked their daughter Chloe’s cell phone GPS and it showed the cell phone was at her school, Westglades Middle.
A call to the school confirmed Chloe was there, just fine.
The kidnap call was indeed a scam. The FBI’s website says scams of all types by internet and telephone are myriad.
Kidnapper scam calls invariably originate, interestingly, from inside prisons from inmates who have bribed guards to get them cell phones and, with nothing else to do with their time, make kidnap extortion calls to numbers located in upscale communities like the Watsons’.
Sometimes an inmate gets a sucker to wire ransom money to a blind account, to recover a victim that was never taken.
Katie Watson instinctively knew the call she took was a fraud, but still it made for a disturbing time.
“I had chills all over my body, because I thought that’s every parent’s worst nightmare, getting a phone call that somebody’s got their kid,” Watson said.
The FBI says callers are smart to hang up on “kidnappers.”
A real kidnapper will call back and provide information and details only the victim and victim’s family would know.
The FBI’s advice is to then have a detailed conversation, learn all you can about the caller, and then call police or the FBI.
ParklandTalk.com contributed to this report.