3.9k Share this

CHICAGO (CBS) — Suppose you got a call saying a drug cartel had kidnapped your cousin – and to save her, you need to send money, right away.

What would you do?

READ MORE: Vehicle Connected To Missing 1-Year-Old Jaclyn ‘Angel’ Dobbs Found In Missouri

It is all actually a scary scam that cost a Chicago woman in a big way. CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas unraveled what happened.

Helping family is second nature for Helen Presley.

“I am a home care aide for my grandmother,” Presley said.

So when she got a call saying her cousin was kidnapped, she put her cleaning on pause at grandma’s house.

“They said: ‘Don’t call anybody else. Don’t do anything, because if you do, we’ll assault, sexually assault your cousin,’” Presley said.

A man told Presley to go to the nearest Western Union and transfer thousands of dollars to someone in Mexico, where his supposed cartel was based. But Presley only works part time and doesn’t have thousands of dollars.

“I was completely terrified,” Presley said. “I didn’t know what to do besides follow their instructions, because I didn’t want her harmed.”

So instead, she sent her last $100. That was money she was saving to fix the damage to her car from a recent storm.

She sat in that same car waiting for the kidnappers to drop her cousin off at a Walgreens. They never did – because they never had her cousin in the first place.

“I waited about an hour or so before I called my cousin – and she said she was fine,” Presley said. “So I realized it was a scam.”

READ MORE: North Central College Paving The Way For First Generation Students Gets National Honour For Service To Latinos

Then she reached out to Western Union, and learned she could not get a refund.

“It’s heartbreaking, but it’s not surprising,” said Teresa Murray, a consumer watchdog with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

McNicholas asked Murray what we could tell people to get them to avoid these kinds of scams.

“Never, ever, ever pay someone that calls you on the phone with gift cards, or wire transfer, or Bitcoin, or anything like that,” Murray said.

But here’s where the water gets murky.

Presley said the call was so convincing because when she first picked up, she thought she was talking to her cousin. She heard a woman with a similar voice who even knew her cousin’s name before the man took the phone.

“They also had my phone number, so it feels like it was somebody that possibly knew me or knew my family,” Presley said.

And that’s a thought she can’t scrub out of her mind.

Our expert tells us if you get a call like that, just hang up and call the family member directly.

We asked Western Union to comment, but they never did.

MORE NEWS: Licensed Gun Owner Shoots, Kills Man Who Fired At Him In West Lakeview

On its website, the money giant outlines more than 20 scams, and has a quiz to help you avoid such rip offs.

Source: CBS Chicago

3.9k Share this
You May Also Like

Pro-Putin journalist accidentally reveals position of Russian mega mortar.. and Ukraine blows it up

Pro-Putin journalist accidentally reveals position of Russian mega mortar in propaganda report……

Half-Million Migrants Cross Border in Ten Weeks

More than a half-million migrants illegally crossed the southwest border with Mexico…
Chicago First Alert Weather: On the cooler side again Monday

Chicago First Alert Weather: On the cooler side again Monday

Chicago First Alert Weather: On the cooler side again Monday – CBS…
A Texas National Guard soldier moves a razor-wire barrier along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River on Sunday, May 22, 2022 to allow migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. entry in Eagle Pass, Texas

Border Patrol is still ‘all hands on deck’ despite federal judge stopping Biden from ending Title 42

Even though Title 42 is no longer ending on Monday, Border Patrol…
Chicago First Alert Weather: Cool Tuesday, stormy Wednesday

Chicago First Alert Weather: Cool Tuesday, stormy Wednesday

Chicago First Alert Weather: Cool Tuesday, stormy Wednesday – CBS Chicago Watch…
WNBA championship banner raised for Sky

WNBA championship banner raised for Sky

CHICAGO (CBS) — The season is less than a month old, and…

Angry McDonald’s customer blockades drive-through for TWO HOURS

Angry McDonald’s customer BLOCKADES the drive-through for two hours in stalemate row…

Kourtney Kardashian and her family dress to the nines in Dolce & Gabbana for a rehearsal dinner

They’re saying ‘I do’ for a third time this weekend in Portofino,…