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Local woman receives scam call from Mexico with ‘crying girl’ on the phone

Posted at 9:29 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 23:51:25-05

NORTH SALT LAKE — A phone scam that has been circulating in the United States for nearly a decade has reached a North Salt Lake woman for the second time.

The scam, known to the FBI as the "virtual kidnapping" scam, involves a phone call from a Mexico number, with a scammer saying they have kidnapped a family member or loved ones.

“When I first got the call, I immediately thought, 'Who’s calling me from Mexico?'” Grace Hansen told FOX 13 on Tuesday. “When I picked up the phone, it was a girl crying, calling me 'mom.'”

Hansen recorded the phone call. Before she began recording, she says the male voice on the other end identified himself as a police officer, saying that Hansen’s daughter was hurt and she needed to be picked up at a local Walmart.

As soon as the crying began, Hansen knew the call was a scam. Her one-year-old daughter wasn’t missing from her home as she was laying down for a nap in the other room at the time of the call.

“If you get a call from Mexico or an unknown phone number, I mean, those are really the signs that something isn’t right,” said Hansen, who had gone through this once before and was much closer to falling for the scam the first time.

“When this happened to my husband five years ago, where we got a similar call from Mexico saying they had his mom and dad and they were asking for money ... we took it very seriously because his mom and dad were in Mexico and we couldn’t get ahold of them,” Hansen said about the previous scam call.

She and her husband gathered money from their family members in order to try and meet a deadline that was given by the scammers.

“When we were in the Walmart parking lot ready to send them money, we did get ahold of [family],” said Hansen. “We thought his parents were in danger — my husband was very worried for his mom and dad.”

Luckily, the Hansens never sent the money and the scam call on Tuesday didn’t reach the point of them asking for money as they ended the call before it got to that point.

Regardless of the outcome, Hansen wants to help others who get the call.

“I hope that you reach out to local authorities before sending money especially overseas or another country,” she said.