East Hartford Family Targeted in Hostage Scam - NBC Connecticut

East Hartford Family Targeted in Hostage Scam



    East Hartford Police say a scammer called a family telling them their loved one was being held hostage and would be killed unless they sent him money. (Published Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013)

    An East Hartford family received a troubling phone call Saturday afternoon.  The caller on the other end of the line informed them one of their relatives was being held hostage.

    East Hartford Police say shortly after 3 p.m., a woman got a call that her brother-in-law was involved in a car crash with the caller in Hartford. The caller said unless the family paid up, they'd kill him.

    "At first I thought it was a lie," said the victim, Magaly. Magaly did not want to give her last name. "But we were calling my brother-in-law, and he wasn't answering the phone," she added.

    So Magaly, who continued talking to the alleged kidnapper, as her family rushed to a nearby Webster Bank to give the man threatening to kill her loved one $1,000. The man on the phone then told her to head to a Western Union to transfer the money to his account.

    "The family was very scared and actually went to get the money out, and they called us. And we did an investigation and found out it was a scam," said East Hartford Sgt. Tim Irwin.

    Magaly's family was eventually able to contact her brother-in-law on the phone and found out everything was okay. Even during those frantic moments before, Magaly felt something was wrong, so she says she stalled for two hours while police investigated.

    "[The caller said] just send the money and he'll be okay, and I said, 'No. I need to at least speak with [my brother-in-law].' And he said no," said Magaly.

    Police say the scammer called from a number with a Massachusetts area code but that the call originated in Puerto Rico.

    NBC Connecticut called the number but no one answered.

    It's become a scam more and more police departments around the state are dealing with. Police say this particular scammer made about 40 phone calls in one day trying to take people's money.

    The best thing you can do if you ever get a phone call like that is to call police.