A Cooper City woman almost became the victim of a scam after she received a phone call from someone who said her father had been in an accident.
The stranger on the phone threatened her family while demanding cash.
Ivette Smith was at her Cooper City home on Saturday afternoon when a 305 number came up on her cell phone's caller ID. She didn't recognize the number, but since it was a local area code, she answered the call. That was the first and only mistake she would make. The person on the other end of the line fed her a very contrived, hard-to-believe story.
"Your father is here. He was in an accident with my brother," the caller told Smith. "I'll drop him off at a hospital for you, but I've got to get my brother $2,000."
"I was mad. I was frustrated. I was scared. It was a roller coaster of emotions," Smith told Local 10's Jacey Birch.
The caller continued to demand cash and telling Smith to drive to a Western Union. Smith didn't believe the caller's claims, but she couldn't be sure until she found out her father was OK.
"I felt like I was in a movie and that it really wasn't happening to me. But then I kept thinking this has to be fake," Smith said.
She stayed on the line with the unknown man, repeating his demands and trying to make sense of his stories while her husband listened to the entire conversation and called the police. Smith was afraid for her Dad, but something just didn't add up.
"He said, 'Don't try calling your father either because my brother has his cell phone and will know. And he's going to go crazy and shoot your father," Smith said.
Those threats made her second guess herself but while she stayed on the phone, BSO deputies arrived at her house to listen to the call and try to find her father.
"Probably 100 percent of the time these phone calls are nothing more than a scam," said Lieutenant Brian Montgomery.
But since Smith's 70-year-old father was still not answering his phone, the game kept going for more than an hour, as she remained on the phone with the person threatening her father's life.
She even had to pretend she was going along with the plan by getting into her car and turning on the ignition. Then the man on the phone asked her to honk the horn and turn on the radio, just to prove she was actually leaving to go get the money."
Local 10 called the number that came up on her caller ID. A message saying the mailbox was full came up after a few rings.
BSO says it probably came from a disposable, untraceable phone. But the chilling charade only ended when Smith's father was found safe in Hialeah.
"You don't know if you want to take the chance on not believing it because it could happen and that's the scary part and I think that's what they bank on," she says.
Smith posted her experience on her Facebook account and more than 40 others commented that they also experienced similar phone scams.
BSO reminds everyone to never give out your personal information over the phone, under any circumstance. And if a call ever seems even the slightest bit suspicious, call police.