A woman is warning people of a terrifying scam that had her believe her younger sister was being held hostage.
Beth Royce shared her experience on TikTok as a cautionary tale for anyone with a phone.
“I don’t know if you can tell. I’ve been crying all morning,” Royce begins the video, foreshadowing the alarming situation she went through.
The TikToker said she was awoken at around 7 am on March 7 by a phone call from her sister’s number, but when she answered, she heard a man’s voice instead.
“It was a man’s voice on the other end screaming at me, telling me you’re not going to call anyone else,” recounted Royce. “You’re not going to call the police, you’re not going to talk to anyone. I have your sister.”
She goes on to preface that she’s not gullible and is usually good at spotting phishing emails and other forms of spam. However, this call sounded so realistic that she says it was the scariest moment of her entire life.
@bethroyce I feel the need to tell everyone I know about this. Literally the scarriest moment of my entire life #scam #scammers #scammed #hostagesituation #trauma #phonescam #fyp #foryoupage #fypシ #viral ♬ original sound – Beth
Royce says she heard muffled sobs in the background that sounded like a woman’s voice, which she believed was her sister’s.
“I fully 100% believed that this was real, especially since it was her contact that popped up on my phone,” she said.
Royce has a conversation with the man for about 15 minutes, trying to calm him down. He tells her she needs to send him money because he just got out of jail and needs to get home.
She says that he even started crying, assuring her that he wasn’t a bad person. She obliged and sent him money.
Royce says the most chilling part of the scam call was when the man started speaking to the crying woman.
“There was one point I heard a sob in the background and the guy said, ‘Listen, you need to calm down. You’re gonna hurt yourself. I’m gonna get money from your sister and then everything’s gonna be fine. I’m gonna let you go,'” she recounted.
“I was terrified that he was going to kill my sister.”
Fortunately, Royce wasn’t alone at the time. Her mom was able to call the police and call her sister’s actual number, who picked up.
Even though the scary experience was resolved, the TikToker says it left a lasting impact on her.
“It felt so real that, I’m not kidding, I’m traumatized and I’m worried about PTSD,” she said.
People flooded her comments with similar experiences.
“They did these a lot in Mexico. My mom got used to them and wouldn’t even check on us anymore,” reads one comment.
“They’re doing this scam a lot in [Puerto Rico]… they tried to do this to my father cause they live over there… and they did this to my aunt/uncle… they even had a young girl crying in the background,” added another commenter.
Others advised her family to come up with a code word for emergency situations like this.
Sadly, this type of scam is becoming all too common with Artificial Intelligence.
So much so that the Federal Trade Commission in the US issued a consumer alert in March warning people about calls using voice clones by AI.