Chesterfield man describes harrowing phone scam

Posted at 11:39 PM, Dec 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-16 23:39:35-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)--Police put out a  ‘Be on the Lookout’ Friday afternoon for a man who they said had robbed the Virginia Credit Union on Glenside Drive, and who they said was a white male in a burgundy car.

He left a bank teller a note at a Call Federal Credit Union which said “Under duress, call the police!”

Then police stopped him on Bells Road, believing he might have robbed a different bank.

"I didn't expect to be taken as a bank robber," the Chesterfield man said, who asked us to hide his identity.

Little did this man know that his description fit that of a Henrico bank robbery suspect 45 minutes earlier. He was cleared of any wrong doing on that front, but that was only part of a harrowing ordeal he endured Friday afternoon and evening.

"He was insistent, making different threats," he said, describing how a man on the other end of his cell terrorized him.

He says he withdrew $1,800 from his savings account and  wrote the note because a man had called his cell phone saying he was holding his wife for ransom.

"He said my wife ran into the back of his brother’s Mercedes and wanted money, and if I did it, she'd be ok," he said.

Police and FBI agents tracked his wife down about three hours later, she'd been out shopping.  She hadn’t been aware of what her husband was going through because she’d left her cell phone at home.

"The phone can be your friend and your enemy, but you don't give out any money unless you initiated the call,” said Tom Gallagher from the Better Business Bureau.  He says scammers are getting more and more creative.

"You can buy information on what shoes people wear or who's in their family or who they're married to," Gallagher said.

Gallagher says while there are no rules to the swindling game, generally scammers prey on the elderly.  The Chesterfield man believes that's why he was targeted.

"They pick on people old enough to be gullible or afraid,” he said.  “I mean, I know I was."

The phone call, according to a source, was traced to Puerto Rico.