REVERE (CBS) – “The man on the other end of the phone told me to go to my car and do exactly what he said,” says a Revere mom named Theresa, who asked us not to use her last name. “He said, ‘Listen to me carefully, I have your daughter.’ He knew everything about her.”
Theresa says she asked the man who he was and he told her to do what he said. “He said ‘My cousin is holding a pistol to her head right now. We had a little accident last night. My cousin is a fugitive and he wants a thousand dollars for the damages. I need you to go to a Western Union immediately and transfer the money.’”
Theresa says she asked the man if her daughter was hurt. “He said ‘Your daughter is okay, I promise you I give you my word I will not allow my cousin to pull the trigger if you do everything I say.’”
She went outside to her car in the middle of a snow storm in December. “The car was frozen, and he asked me not to lie, he called me a liar, and he said he was going to pull the trigger. He immediately said ‘Do not try to use another cell phone, do not pass a note, if I hear any noise in the background if I hear you talking to anybody, he said I will pull the trigger.’”
The man directed her to Western Union locations to get the money, but because it was in the middle of a storm, several locations were closed. “He asked me to keep beeping my horn. It was three and a half hours of torture,” she recalls. “It was the most terrifying horrible thing that a mother can go through.”
Theresa says the caller knew all kinds of personal details about her family. “They knew my daughter’s name, they knew my children. They knew all about my daughter, they knew where she was going to school, and they knew all about me. They knew names, they knew both of my sons.” They even described an outfit her daughter had. “They knew my daughter was beautiful they told me what she was wearing and I knew she had that kind of outfit.”
Theresa was finally able to wire the money to two people in Springfield. Then she called her daughter, and when her daughter answered the phone, she realized she had been scammed.
“In my heart, I thought it may be a scam,” she says, “but as a mom, but if there was one in a billion chances it would be true, I would do it.”
Revere police launched an investigation and arrested two people who received the money. Jennifer Rodriguez and Jose Carrasquillo of Springfield are both charged with Extortion through the Threat of Bodily Injury. Investigators believe the caller was in Puerto Rico, and they believe the scammer gathered the information on Theresa’s family from Facebook and other social media.
The city has seen such a surge in scams, that the Revere Mayor sent out a reverse 911 call today warning residents to be aware of the problem. Sgt Steven Pisano says if anyone gets a call from someone demanding money, they should hang up and call police.
Theresa says she wasn’t willing to take the risk, “I didn’t care, at that point I didn’t care if it was a scam or not. That was my baby, that was my child.”
She hopes by speaking out, she can help police educate others about the scams, and do what they can to stop them.