One TikTok user has issued a stark warning after being duped into sending $500 to a hoax caller who claimed he had kidnapped her sister.
Beth Royce, from Pennsylvania, detailed her ‘terrifying’ experience as part of a three-minute-long TikTok video in a bid to prevent the same thing happening to others.
In the clip, which has so far been viewed more than 6.3 million times, she explained that she was woken up about 7.20am by a phone call, which appeared to be from her sister.
However, when she answered the phone, she was met by a man’s voice who claimed he had kidnapped her and demanded money.
Beth Royce, from Pennsylvania, detailed her ‘terrifying’ experience as part of a three-minute-long TikTok video in a bid to prevent the same thing happening to others
In her video, Beth speaks to camera as she explains that she is very savvy when it comes to scams, but this one had completely caught her out.
She says: ‘It’s so hard for me to describe to you how real this all sounded.
‘Like, I’m not an idiot. I’m so good at spotting phishing emails. I’m so good at spotting spam calls.
‘I never fall for anything. And this was like, the realest, scariest moment of my entire life. Literally.’
Beth said when the call came through, it was her younger sister’s contact that appeared along with her photo and ‘it looked exactly like [she] was calling.’
Thinking it was her sister, who lives in Seattle, Beth took the call, but she was shocked when she greeted by a ‘man’s voice on the other end screaming’ at her.
Describing the chain of events, she said: ‘He sounded completely unhinged. He sounded crazy. I heard muffled sobs in the background that sounded like a woman’s voice so of course I was like, “Oh my God, that’s my sister.”
‘I fully 100 per cent believed that this was real, especially since it was her contact that popped up on my phone. It wasn’t some random number.’
In an effort to stop the situation from escalating, Beth said she tried to calm the mystery caller down and kept him engaged in small talk for about 15 minutes.
In the clip, which has so far been viewed more than 6.3 million times, Beth (pictured) explained that she was woken up about 7.20am by a phone call which appeared to be from her sister
How to deal with an ‘imposter scam’
What is an imposter scam?
A scammer pretends to be someone you trust – a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS, a family member, a love interest, or someone claiming there’s a problem with your computer. The scammer can even have a fake name or number show up on your caller ID to convince you.
How to stop calls from scammers?
The Federal Trade Commission advises hanging up. Even if it’s not a scammer calling, when a company is calling you illegally, it’s not a company you want to do business with. When you get a robocall, don’t press any numbers. Instead of letting you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, it might lead to more robocalls.
What should you do it you have already paid a scammer?
Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. No matter what payment method you used to pay, the sooner you act, the better.
If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank right away. Tell them what happened, and ask for a ‘chargeback’ to reverse the charges.
Source: The Federal Trade Commission
The fraudster said that he needed her to send him some money so he could get home as he had just got out of jail.
He told Beth that he was not a bad person and started crying.
The TikToker said that the ‘most chilling’ part of the conversation was when she heard a sob in the background and the mystery man said ‘listen you need to calm down you’re gonna hurt yourself.’
‘I’m gonna get money from your sister and then everything’s gonna be fine. I’m going to let you go,’ Beth added, repeating what she heard the scammer say.
Beth ended up sending him $500.
Luckily though, she wasn’t home alone as her mom had been staying with her.
When she first got the call and realized there was something awry, she ran downstairs and woke her mom ‘but silently because the guy was telling me not to tell anyone.’
Beth’s mom phoned the police and then she continued taking the call on her front porch because she did not want the guy to hear any background noise.
Still worried the man had her sister, Beth said she was ‘terrified’ he might kill her.
After calling the police, her mom went about calling her sister’s number and bizarrely she picked up.
To her relief, Beth said this was when they realized her sister was safe and the call was a hoax.
But, although it proved to be scam, she said that she was left ‘traumatized’ by the ordeal and ‘worried about PTSD.’
Offering advice to others who might find themselves in similar situations, Beth said: ‘I’m not kidding, if you get a call like this I read that it’s recommended that you hang up and then immediately call back because it will call your actual contact.’
Since posting about her imposter’s call, Beth has been inundated with words of support from viewers.
One user wrote: ‘I still can’t believe human beings can put other human beings through this kind of fear and turmoil. The lack of empathy is shocking. I’m so sorry.’
Another advised: ‘Absolutely contact a therapist to process through this, that sounds legitimately traumatic.’
And a third said: ‘This must’ve been terrifying!! so sorry you had to go through this! I had no idea scammers could be that clever!’
Beth has said that she is now attempting to retrieve the $500 she paid out from her bank.
Nearly $40 billion was lost last year to phone scammers in the US, according to research.
The Federal Trade Commission asks victims of phone scams to report the incident at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.