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Keys man pays $2,500 to scammers to save 'kidnapped' wife

Monroe County Sheriff's Office says man fell for common scam

KEY LARGO, Fla. – A Key Largo man paid a $2,500 ransom to a man claiming to have kidnapped his wife Friday, deputies said. 

After 30-year-old man paid the money, he found out his wife had not been kidnapped and that he’d been scammed.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said this is a common scam in which a scammer calls the victim, threatening to kill or injure that family member if he or shoe doesn’t get what they’ve asked for.  Then, he or shoe insists that the victim stay on the phone until the money is paid to a location outside the U.S. This is intended prevent the victim from talking to anyone who might realize it is a scam.

Sometimes these scammers will ask victims to purchase GreenDot or other types of cash cards as payment.

The Key Largo man got a call Friday from a man named "Mike," who claimed that his son was killed by the victim’s wife in a car crash.

Mike said that he didn’t call law enforcement because he was a drug dealer, deputies said.

A recording of a woman screaming was played for the victim, who told deputies the voice on the phone sounded like his wife.  

The man was then told to wire money to two different people in Puerto Rico, deputies said.

The victim didn’t hang up on Mike because he was told that if he did, his wife would be killed, deputies said. He then walked to a grocery store, withdrew money from his bank account and wired it. 

When the call was over, the victim got a text message from his wife and family members letting him know that she was alive, deputies said.

The victim's wife also received similar calls Friday from a man who claimed to have kidnapped her husband, deputies said. However, she didn’t believe the caller and hung up on him.