CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Savanah Foulds answered her mom’s FaceTime call in shock, confused as to why she was crying hysterically.
“She’s like ‘are you OK, are you OK,’ and I had just woken up,” Savanah said.
Her mom, Brianna Darcey, was relieved to finally be able to get in contact with Savanah after a man called Savanah’s grandparents threatening to kill her if the couple didn’t pay him.
According to Darcey, Savanah’s grandparents, who live in Cedar Park, got a call from a younger woman crying and screaming. The phone was then taken away from the woman, and a man on the other end then identified himself, first, as an Austin police officer.
The family told KXAN the scammer said Savanah had been in an accident. From there, the family said the grandparents were asked about their relationship to Savanah, her date of birth and other personal information.
“He also wanted to know if my dad was at work or at home, so that’s when my dad started getting suspicious,” Darcey said.
The grandparents then called Savanah on another phone — the scammer heard — and quickly changed his story.
That’s when the situation escalated. Darcey said Savanah’s grandparents were told by the man that he was a part of a cartel.
“He said…if he [the grandfather] didn’t stop trying to call her [Savanah]…he’d kill her,” Darcey said.
This man proceeded to tell the grandparents that Savanah had hit his car, and that they needed to pay him.
The grandparents weren’t able to get in touch with Savanah, so Darcey called. The couple anxiously waited to see if she’d be able to get in touch with Savanah, while still on the phone with the man who was threatening to kill their granddaughter.
Darcey couldn’t reach Savanah at first, but she eventually answered her call.
“You hear of those scams, but you also hear of the other part of that where people do get kidnapped…so I’m always nervous about that,” Darcey said. “We were able to verify that it was a scam, and the guy hung up on my dad.”
Darcey said she called the Cedar Park Police Department non-emergency line to tell them what happened.
“They’re preying on the grandparents and they’re using that is grandparents gonna want to protect their grandkids,” Cedar Park Detective, Anthony Bridgewater said.
Cedar Park Police and the San Marcos Police Department said they have gotten recent calls from people reporting ransom scams, specifically targeting elderly individuals. Cedar Park said its heard of three incidents in the past month.
“A lot of these scammers have like they have accounts into like people find or people search and they’ll come across random names,” Bridgewater said.
Darcey and Savanah are sharing their story to spread awareness, in case another family finds themselves in this situation.
“We’re definitely going to be more careful moving forward,” Savanah said.