North Texas

Scam Caller Claims Loved One Is Hurt in Crash, Then Demands Money

In an elaborate scheme for scammers to get cash, some people are being led to believe their loved ones are in danger.

Maria Mejia said she was working at a North Texas hospital when her phone began ringing repeatedly one afternoon.

When she answered, the person on the other end of the line claimed to a paramedic and had a man hurt, who listed her as an emergency contact.

"I said, 'What's his name?' They said, 'Ma'am, he's unidentified, unconscious,'" Mejia said.

The caller asked Mejia for the name of her father, husband or brother and what type of car they drove. When she told him, she said he screamed to someone to check to see if the crashed car was a black Suburban and then came back to the phone.

"He says, 'That's your dad in the accident.' I started crying, I was shaking, I was scared," Mejia said.

Her co-workers saw she was shaken and rushed to her side as the call went on.

"He said, 'Your dad was exiting Exxon, and he hit a 17-year old on a motorcycle, and the 17-year old was my son, and now your dad is going to pay for the damages,'" Mejia said.

The story had changed. Now, she's got an angry family member, wanting money.

Before she could wrap her head around that, it changed again.

"He said he was kidnapped, they took him to apartments, and that he had my dad's phone, and if he received call or texts from you or anybody, 'We're going to put a bullet in your dad's head,'" Mejia said.

The caller wanted $3,000 in ransom. She didn't know any longer if this was an angry father, kidnapper or a paramedic.

"My coworker told me ask him for a picture of your dad. So, I said I want a picture of my dad. He said, 'Lady are you listening? We have your dad kidnapped and we're going to put a bullet in his head.' He said, 'You can save the money for the funeral.' He said, 'Maria are you there?' I started to respond but he hung up," Mejia said.

Mejia said she was too panicked to doubt the story.

She didn't want to call him back either.

"I was scared, because he said if he gets a call they're going to blow his brains out," Mejia said.

Instead, she called 911, and reached a dispatcher who called her dad, conferenced him in, and her dad said he was home, safe and doing chores.

The 911 dispatcher told her they've gotten calls like this before, but the Dallas Police Department said it wasn't familiar with them.

Other departments were saying the scheme almost always starts with a loved one who is hurt and a paramedic needing cash.

Macara Trusty is a paramedic with MedStar. She says anytime you get a call from someone claiming to be an emergency responder with a critical patient, that's a red flag.

"If the patient is so critical that they can't talk on the phone, we don't have time to make those phone calls," Trusty said.

Police are investigating these calls but want you to know just because the number pops up as local doesn't mean the caller is in town or even in the country.

If you do get a call like this, police ask you to file a report.

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