A TikTok user issued a stark warning after being tricked into sending $500 to a false caller who claimed they had kidnapped his sister.
Beth Royce, from Pennsylvania, detailed her ‘terrifying’ experience as part of a three-minute video Tik Tok video in an attempt to prevent the same thing from happening to others.
In the clip, which has been viewed more than 6.3 million times so far, she explains that she was woken up at around 7:20 a.m. by a phone call that appeared to be from her sister.
However, when she answered the phone, she was met with the voice of a man claiming that he had kidnapped her and demanding money.
Beth Royce, from Pennsylvania, detailed her ‘terrifying’ experience as part of a three-minute long TikTok video in an attempt to prevent the same thing from happening to others.
In her video, Beth speaks into the camera while explaining that she’s very smart when it comes to scams, but she had been totally caught up in it.
She says: ‘It’s very difficult for me to describe to you how real this all sounded.
‘Like, I’m not an idiot. I’m very good at detecting phishing emails. I’m very good at detecting spam calls.
‘I never fall in love with anything. And this was like the most real and scary moment of my entire life. Literally.’
Beth said that when she received the call, it was her younger sister’s contact that appeared along with her photo and “it looked exactly like (she) was calling.”
Thinking it was her sister, who lives in Seattle, Beth took the call, but was surprised when she was greeted with a “man’s voice on the other end yelling at her.”
Describing the chain of events, he said: ‘He seemed completely unhinged. He seemed crazy. I heard muffled sobs in the background that sounded like a woman’s voice, so of course I said, “OMG, that’s my sister.”
“I 100% believed this was real, especially since it was his contact that showed up on my phone.” It was not a random number.
In an effort to prevent the situation from escalating, Beth said she tried to calm down the mystery caller and kept him in small conversation for about 15 minutes.
In the clip, which has so far been viewed more than 6.3 million times, Beth (pictured) explains that she was woken around 7:20 a.m. by a phone call that appeared to be from her sister.
How to deal with an ‘impostor scam’
What is an impostor scam?
A scammer pretends to be someone you trust: a government agency like the Social Security Administration or IRS, a family member, a love interest, or someone who claims there’s a problem with your computer. The scammer may even display a fake name or number on your caller ID to convince you.
How to stop calls from scammers?
The Federal Trade Commission advises hanging up. Even if you are not a scammer calling, when a company calls you illegally, it is not a company you want to do business with. When you receive an automated call, do not press any number. Instead of letting you speak to a live operator or removing them from your call list, it could lead to more robocalls.
What should you do if you have already paid a scammer?
Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it hard to get your money back. It doesn’t matter which payment method you used to pay, the sooner you act, the better.
If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Tell them what happened and request a ‘chargeback’ to reverse the charges.
Fountain: The Federal Trade Commission
The scammer said he needed her to send him some money so he could get home like he just got out of jail.
She told Beth that she wasn’t a bad person and started to cry.
The TikToker said the “scariest” part of the conversation was when she heard sobbing in the background and the mystery man said “listen, you need to calm down, you’re going to hurt yourself.”
‘I’m going to get money from your sister and then everything will be fine. I’m going to let you go,” Beth added, echoing what she heard the scammer say.
Beth ended up sending her $500.
Fortunately, however, she was not home alone as her mother had stayed with her.
When she first got the call and realized something was wrong, she ran downstairs and woke up her mother “but quietly because the guy kept telling me not to tell anyone.”
Beth’s mom called the police, and then she continued to take the call on her front porch because she didn’t want the boy to hear any background noise.
Still worried that the man had her sister, Beth said she was “terrified” that he might kill her.
After calling the police, her mother called her sister’s number and, strangely enough, she answered.
To her relief, Beth said that’s when they realized her sister was safe and the call was a hoax.
But, although it turned out to be a scam, she said she was left “traumatized” by the ordeal and “worried about PTSD.”
Offering advice to others who might find themselves in similar situations, Beth said, “I’m not kidding, if you get a call like this I read that it’s recommended that you hang up and then call back right away because it’s going to call your real contact.” .’
Since posting about her imposter call, Beth has been inundated with words of support from viewers.
One user wrote: ‘I still can’t believe humans can put other humans through this kind of fear and confusion. The lack of empathy is shocking. Very sorry.’
Another advised: “Absolutely contact a therapist to process this, that sounds legitimately traumatic.”
And a third said: ‘This must have been terrifying! What a shame you had to go through this! I had no idea scammers could be so clever!’
Beth has said that she is now trying to get back the $500 she paid from her bank.
Nearly $40 billion was lost last year to phone scammers in the US, according to research.
The Federal Trade Commission asks victims of telephone scams to report the incident in ReportFraud.ftc.gov.