Southern California mother warns public of kidnapping hoax that cost her $7,000

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Thursday, August 11, 2016
Woman scammed of $7,000 with kidnapping hoax
Josefina Vazquez is warning people about a kidnapping scam that cost her $7,000.

LOS ANGELES -- Josefina Vazquez received a horrifying phone call Monday morning.

"He said 'We have your son, and I don't want you to hang up and I don't want you to talk to anybody. If you do we'll cut him in half,'" Vazquez recalled.

The caller demanded a ransom of $10,000 and ordered her to go to four different Wells Fargo banks in the San Fernando Valley to withdraw the money and then wire it to Mexico.

Only her son had not been kidnapped.

It was a scam - one that police say isn't that unusual.

By the time Vazquez heard from her son - who was safe and sound and had not been kidnapped - she was already out $7,000.

Vazquez contacted ABC7 using #abc7eyewitness because she wanted to tell her story and warn others about the scam.

Detective Michael Barlow with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the kidnapping hoax is a common trick. He advised anyone who receives such a call to immediately contact law enforcement.

"Any time someone calls you demanding money, especially instances of ransom saying they have your children, you want to contact law enforcement," Barlow said. "This is not the type of incident that you want to handle by yourself. You're not equipped to handle it."

Vazquez thinks the scammer probably found out about her family through her Facebook account.

Barlow advised people to limit the personal information they post on social media because it can be used by scammers. Among things that should not be posted publicly are phone numbers, children's names and travel plans.