STEELE CREEK, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte man is out nearly $1,000 after paying what you might call a "scam ransom."
Josh Case says he got a call from a man who claimed to be holding his mother for ransom after a car wreck. The caller was able to tell Case details about his mother - from her full name to the make and model of her car.
Case wired money only to find out none of this happened and that his mother was safe. Case is from Steele Creek but crossed the border to Tega Cay to wire the money.
Police say the chances of him getting his money back are very slim.
The incident began after Case went to work as usual one morning in early January. Things quickly turned abnormal after he received a threatening phone call.
"My body sort of went numb. I really didn't know what to think," Case said.
The caller on the other end told him his mom, Kim, had been involved in a car accident with illegal immigrants. Case says the caller was angry and told him to follow instructions because they were kidnapping his mom out of retaliation.
"And [the caller] said that he was going to kill her unless I paid $1,000," he explained.
Case says he started to contact police but changed his mind because the caller told him "no funny business" or he would "put a bullet in his mom's head."
"I felt like I was in a dream almost, my body was numb and I was riding around listening to every demand," Case said.
Why would you believe a caller like this? Josh says the caller had personal information about his mom that made it believable.
"He knew my mom's car make, model, license plate number... and made it sound like he was legitimately at the scene," he explained.
Trying to think quick on his feet, he offered the caller $900. That's money Josh and his wife had been saving for their baby girl due in March. They know she'll have some medical expenses.
"Our little baby already has Spina Bifida," Case said. "It's going to be rough... a bunch of bills, doctor bills. The little bit of money I had saved up was to help her out"
Josh transferred the funds at a Walmart in Tega Cay.
"I was 100-percent convinced that he actually had my mom. This guy was acting insane, screaming and crying," Case said.
After the transaction, Case went to the Applebee's on South Tryon in Charlotte – where the caller said he'd be able to pick up his mom. When he went into the restaurant, he says he motioned for help through a note.
"My mom is held hostage. Please call cops. On the phone with the man right now," he said.
Staff at Applebee's called police, who did a welfare check on his mom and found her to be OK. Josh says he's planning on changing his number.
Police say not to always believe what you're hearing, and find a way to ask for help before ever sending money.