Deputies say phone scam plays on emotions and fear

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Complaints are coming in to sheriff's investigators about a phone scam that plays on people's emotions and fear.

Carl, who didn't want to use his or his wife's last name, said he received a call at 2 p.m. Monday. He said that because it was a 407 area code, he didn't hesitate to answer.

"He went on to tell me his brother has been involved in a car accident with my wife," Carl told WFTV's Racquel Asa. "He then told me he had my wife in his apartment as a hostage at gunpoint ... in the meantime, I called my wife."

"And he just said, in a panic, 'Where are you?' and I said, 'I'm in my office,' and I said, 'Why?' and he said, 'I'll call you back,' and then hung up," said the man's wife.

 Carl said his instinct to make the call kicked in the minute the scammer asked for $2,000.

"I'm not gullible, but when you get a phone call like that, you're not going to think clearly," said Carl.

According to investigators, it's the time when the intended victim is not thinking clearly that works to the scammer's advantage.

Investigators said it's often in the first minute of the call when the scammer gets the most information out of their intended victim.

"Instead of mentioning the name, say something like, 'What do you mean my husband has been in an accident?' That will throw someone off guard because they aren't expecting that answer," said Marcus Camacho of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Instead, investigators said, take note of details like is it a man or woman, background noise or even an accent.

Those were all things that Carl remembered.

"More than anything, I'd like to see the gentleman caught, prosecuted and put in jail," said Carl.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office said it gets up to three calls a day from victims describing similar scenarios.

Investigators said the calls are hard to trace because most of the time they come from out of the country. But they said a report should be filed because it allows them to track similarities.