Kidnapped relative scam on the rise in Tampa Bay

9:50 PM, Sep 5, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - It's a cell phone call that still haunts Kimber. She's so afraid that the suspect who called her may track her and her family down that she asked 10 News not to publish her last name.

Kimber says someone named Robert called her while she was working Tuesday afternoon. The man claimed that her son, Joshua, had been involved in a car accident with him and had slammed into the man's Mercedes Benz, leaving it damaged.

The man on the phone claimed the two started fighting. Kimber says the man explained, "He had hit my son in the head with a gun and he was unconscious, and that if I didn't give them $2,000 right away, that they were going to kill my son."

Kimber pretended to be driving to the bank, but over the course of the next hour she scrambled to find Joshua, who was in class at Hillsborough Community College. She stayed on her cell phone with the caller the entire time.

She says, "He had a very thick Spanish/Dominican accent and there was two of them."

When Kimber and her co-worker arrived at HCC, they discovered her son Joshua was just fine and had not been involved in a car crash. Joshua says, "My heart just kind of sank into my stomach because I didn't know what was going on at all. I had just gotten out of class."

The scam is something Corporal Bruce Crumpler of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is looking into. He says, "Recently now, we're seeing more of a violent type of a scam, which is what this is."

Corporal Crumpler says police have started seeing one of these scams every month, and with a case in Temple Terrace last Thursday, and now one Tampa, he has some advice if it happens to you.

Corporal Crumpler says you should call 911 despite the threats so a deputy can help you. "You can call 911 under that circumstance and leave the phone off the hook and we can hear the conversation that's going on."

He says a deputy will be dispatched to help you before you wire your money and lose it forever.

Kimber says, "You feel sort of stupid that you fell for it, but at the same time you feel violated."

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