In Your NeighborhoodDeWitt - St. Johns


Scammers told two DeWitt Township women their daughters had been kidnapped and demanded ransom

DeWitt Twp. Police Chief Mike Gute
Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 20:44:53-04

Friday night a woman in DeWitt Township was contacted by a blocked number.

On the other end of the phone was someone who claimed to be holding her daughter hostage and said they would only release her if hundreds of dollars were wired to their account.

The woman wired the money, only to find that her daughter had been safe the whole time.

A similar incident happened Tuesday afternoon when an elderly woman in DeWitt Township was contacted by what appeared to be a local number.

On the other end of the phone was someone who claimed to be holding her daughter hostage, and would only release her if thousands of dollars were wired to their account. She didn't send the money.

DeWitt Township Police Chief Mike Gute said that, in both instances, the scammer knew that the woman on the other end of the phone had a daughter.

DeWitt Twp. Police

"What's interesting, and then of course with social media and all the ways that people can gain information on individuals nowadays through the use of online resources, is that they did provide specific names of their actual daughters," Gute said. Both women told police they could hear a woman crying for help in the background during the phone call.

Gute said that the scammer claimed each daughter was being held hostage because "she had seen something illegal happen" and that, if the mother did not comply with their demands for ransom, her daughter would be killed.

The investigation is ongoing and police are trying to find a connection between the two victims.

"With apps and other things you can use may appear that it's a local number, but it could be somebody that's just spoofing their phone number to make it look like it's coming from the area," Gute said, adding that when they traced the second phone number it appeared to be from an app-type program.

"We're trying to find out...who might be doing this, where the money from the original transaction went to or who it went to," Gute said. "Nowadays it's so much easier to scam people when you do it wirelessly or electronically, that it could go to an account anywhere in the world, and so we have no idea at this point where these people are from. The suspect could be local or international. We have no idea at this point."

DeWitt Township Police cars

Gute cautioned everyone in the mid-Michigan area not to send money electronically to anyone because "more than likely, it is a scam." Rather, he said, check on your family members to ensure their safety and then call police.

"What they'll try to do is keep you on the phone while you send them money because they don't want you to hang up the phone and report it to 911 or try to call the loved one," Gute said.

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Russell Shellberg

5:49 PM, Jun 03, 2022

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Russell Shellberg

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