A man named Larry Lutes got a call that his daughter was kidnapped. A man called him on the phone and said, "We got your daughter," and he heard her screaming. "She was screaming, ‘Dad -- they’re, they’re taking me in a van. I don’t know what they’re going do. Help me!’” Like any good father, he wired the $10,000 the kidnappers demanded.
But it was all a scam. According to CBS News, there is a rise in fake kidnappings and anyone could be a target.
"This is a nationwide problem," shared NYPD Detective Lt. John Rogan. He says that organized crime rings call victims (at random) and tell them that their loved ones have been kidnapped. “It’s effective because they’re playing on everyone’s good nature and wanting to get their family members back,” he said. The phony kidnappers don't actually have to kidnap anyone; it's the fear that they instill in victims that leads to the payment.
In the case of Lutes, his wife Donna was also contacted by the fake kidnappers. They claimed they had her husband and demanded more money. "If I didn’t get them money … they were going put a bullet in his head,” she said. 28 hours later, the two reunited and realized that they were out of $17,000.
The NYPD says that hundreds of such calls have been made. Victims include people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.